Dunn died of leukemia on 23rd January 2003, aged 41. With his death
the audio engineering profession has lost a brilliant equipment
designer, a dedicated standards developer and a selfless teacher.
earned the respect and affection of a great many people in the audio
industry. He was a familiar face at Audio Engineering Society events
since the 1980s. He was widely known through his many technical
presentations and publications, which continue to reach a wide audience.
His work on digital audio interfacing in particular has influenced
the design of countless professional and consumer products in use
around the world. Julian was chairman of the AES Standards Working
Group responsible for the AES3 interface, and joint leader of the
IEC Team responsible for IEC60958 (including the SPDIF interface).
It was, for example, largely through his efforts that jitter specifications
and extended sample-rate support were added to these interfaces.
Julian also made key contributions to many other standards, including
AES17 (measurement) and IEC61883-6 (audio over IEEE1394). These
contributions will continue to shape future generations of equipment.
was while studying Astronomy and then Medical Electronics at London
University that Julian first became interested in signal processing.
On graduating in 1984 he took a job at the British Broadcasting
Corporation, in their Designs Department. He worked on a range of
experimental projects investigating the implications of digital
technology for the broadcast chain. In one of those projects, he
designed BBC Radio's first digital audio limiter. After four years
at the BBC, Julian moved to Cambridge and became part of a team
developing instruments for the James Clark Maxwell radio telescope.
But the pull of audio was strong, and in 1989 he joined Prism Sound,
then a small company just starting to grow. A focus on consultancy
brought Julian into contact with a variety of clients. His designs
for them ranged from a state-of-the-art format converter to the
commentary and talkback system used at the Barcelona Olympics. Later,
Prism Sound decided to develop and manufacture its own products.
Julian applied his characteristic combination of innovative thinking
and rigorous execution in the design of a ground-breaking analog-to-digital
converter. This was an immediate success amongst discerning studio
users, as was the counterpart digital-to-analog converter that followed. The
current versions of these products are regarded by many as simply
the best converters available. This is reflected in the large and
growing list of prestigious music and film releases on which they
have been used.
1998 Julian formed his own company, Nanophon Ltd (www.nanophon.com). His
expertise in analog and digital electronics, digital signal processing,
hardware and software development and clock recovery systems was
much in demand. Clients included CEDAR Audio, TC Electronic,
Yamaha Corporation and TL Audio. As ever, Julian's work was
fired by his creative brilliance, and tempered by his analytic rigor.
His first-principles approach, built on a broad scientific grounding,
made him a designer of the highest calibre. He also excelled
as a communicator and teacher. This is perhaps best demonstrated
by his work for Audio Precision, through which he found himself
delivering seminars around the world on measurement techniques for
digital audio. Indeed, he was author of a recently published
book on that subject.
was a man of great professional and personal integrity. His
career was shaped by deeply held principles and a desire to improve
things. He valued his independence and could spot a vested
interest at several hundred metres. His commitment to the standards
process stemmed from his belief that good, open standards are fundamental
to the health of the audio industry, benefiting manufacturers and
users alike. His significant contributions in the field of
audio measurement reflected his heartfelt dislike of obfuscation,
hype and spin. He was more interested in helping others to
realize their worth than in pointing out his own. His modesty
and the small size of his company belied the scale of his influence
had a broader view than most engineers. He maintained a keen interest
and involvement in matters of local organization, national government
and international policy. He accepted no limits of scope in
choosing where to apply his forensic intellect. He had a strong
sense of social responsibility which, coupled with his thoughtful
appreciation of the needs of others, made him a consistent force
for positive change in so many areas of life.
of us who knew Julian will remember his quiet but determined manner,
his careful diligence, his shrewd assessments and his combative
defence of principles. We will remember his way of sharing
knowledge, simultaneously correcting and encouraging. We will
remember the pleasure he got from repairing and maintaining things,
especially his beloved Morris Marina cars. We will remember
his love of cycling, curries, the West Indies and cricket. We
will remember his humour; by turns gentle, incisive and mischievous.
But most of all we will remember his warm personality and his generosity
leaves a wife, a mother, a brother, a sister and a thousand friends.