Eugene Patronis: Sound Master
Dr. Eugene Patronis is a professor emeritus in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He continues to enjoy a long a distinguished career as an educator, author, and inventor in the fields of audio and acoustics.
DR. EUGENE PATRONIS IS A PROFESSOR Emeritus in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. He continues to enjoy a long a distinguished career as an educator, author, and inventor in the fields of audio and acoustics. In 2000, he was honored with the TEF Heyser Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the field of acoustical design and/or measurement by utilizing Richard Heyser's patents in Time Delay Spectrometry (TDS). He is also co-author with Don Davis of “Sound System Engineering, Third Edition.”
Dr. Eugene Patronis Jr., Professor Emeritus of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
PRO AV: What do you consider the greatest invention in the history of audio?
EP: It is something that we all have — the ear. But aside from that, thinking of man-made inventions, the thing that's most fundamental in terms of sound reproduction is the loudspeaker. And, the thing that has stood the test of time more than any other component that's employed in audio has been the fundamental loudspeaker design by [Chester] Rice and [Edward] Kellogg, but that, of course, is directed purely toward reproduction. There are many components in audio that are absolutely essential toward completing the entire picture.
PRO AV: What are some of the highlights of your career, and who influenced you along the way?
EP: My career started in high school, during World War II. I became a motion picture projectionist in a local theater when I was 12 years old, so I came in contact with some of the theater service engineers, mostly Altec people. I spent my spare time between reel changes in the booth studying everything I could get my hands on with the regard to the technology I was surrounded by. I learned what I could from the service engineers, but I was mostly self-taught.
After going to Georgia Tech, I was fortunate to encounter some very dedicated teachers including J. Elmer Rhodes and Lemuel Wily. These gentlemen were reinforcing all of the physics I had been exposed to in the motion picture projection booth.
Even though my specialty was originally nuclear physics, I was doing experimental physics because I had a good solid background in electronics. But acoustics has always been a favorite of mine because of my early exposure working in the theater. When some of the research activity in nuclear physics started losing funding, I decided to start my own acoustics program at Georgia Tech in the School of Physics.
PRO AV: Do you agree that there have been few, if any, real innovations in the area of loudspeaker design since the days of Rice and Kellogg in the mid 1920s?
EP: Yes, I agree with that. Modern day loudspeakers make use of more exotic materials than Rice and Kellogg's original work. The big improvements, in terms of loudspeaker manufacturing, have been improvements in adhesives. We now have adhesives that not only have a lot more “adhesion” and longevity, but they can also maintain that over a much wider range of temperature.
PRO AV: What kinds of incremental improvements have you seen in loudspeaker types?