John Morgan Eargle, an author, educator, engineer and product developer whose writings influenced a generation of audio students, passed away in late May. He was 76.
Born in Tulsa, Okla., he pursued degrees in music and electrical engineering from the Eastman School of Music (B.M.), University of Michigan (M.M.), University of Texas (B.S.E.E.) and Cooper Union (M.E.).
Eargle joined JBL as a consultant in 1976, and soon after moved to a full-time position as VP of product development. In the early 1980s, he returned to a consulting role as senior director, product development and application, the position he held for the rest of his life.
Eargle participated in product-development activities for the professional and consumer JBL divisions, for Harman Becker on branded car sound systems and for other Harman divisions. He championed the concept of flat power response in sound reinforcement applications, and conceived of the application of the Bi-Radial® constant-coverage horns to both studio monitors and cinema systems. In 2002, Eargle and other JBL engineers received a Scientific and Engineering Award from AMPAS for the concept, design and engineering of the modern constant-directivity, direct radiator-style motion picture loudspeaker systems.
He had just completed the book The JBL Story: 60 Years of Audio Innovation and had previously co-authored JBL Audio Engineering for Sound Reinforcement, which are among 10 books on audio, loudspeakers, microphones and recording that he authored. He taught at the Aspen Audio Recording Institute for more than 20 years and was a member of its corporate board.
In recording, he was a member of NARAS, and had engineered and/or produced more than 275 albums, including releases from Grammy-winners Joe Williams and Ruth Brown; Eargle took home a Grammy himself in 2001 for Best Engineered Album, Classical, for Dvorák: Requiem, Op. 89; Sym. No. 9, Op. 95 From the New World.
He was a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers; a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and reviewer of electro-acoustical patents for the ASA Journal; and a Fellow, honorary member and past-president of the Audio Engineering Society. Eargle also served as a member of the AES Journal Review Board and was awarded the AES Bronze Medal.
“John Eargle and I both joined JBL in 1976, and John was continually associated with JBL for the last 31 years,” says Mark Gander, JBL Professional VP marketing. “His broad academic and practical background, his technical and applications knowledge, his leadership talents and political acumen, and his erudite writing and presentation skills all made essential contributions to myriad JBL projects and products. He was truly a modern renaissance man, whether behind the keyboard of his piano, behind the mixing console at a recording session, behind the analyzer with the transducer engineers, behind the lectern giving a presentation or sitting in the listening position in cinema, studio, car or home. He was a colleague and a friend, and will be missed by many.”
“John was one of a kind,” adds Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound. “So accomplished, so humble, such a great recording engineer, so happy doing what he loved, always equally as interested in other’s recent works, always a gentleman. There’s not much more one can say except our community has lost a great one. I’ll miss him.”
John Eargle is survived by brother Robert Gray Eargle, sister Pauline Tennison Eargle Dahlgren, nephew John Paul Eargle and five additional nieces and nephews.
Industry colleagues have established a remembrance Website at www.johnmeargle.com; plans are under way for a memorial convocation for friends and associates to be held in the near future. In addition, a scholarship fund has been established in Eargle’s name under the auspices of the Audio Engineering Society’s Educational Foundation. The John M. Eargle Memorial Scholarship will be given to a deserving student who combines the attributes of engineering capability and musical interests in the tradition of John Eargle. The scholarship is being established with an initial donation from JBL/Harman International Industries, Incorporated. Contributions should be made by check to the AES Educational Foundation with instructions to credit the Eargle Fund. They should be mailed to: AES Educational Foundation, Robert Sherwood, Treasurer, One Wolf’s Lane, Pelham, NY, 10803. All contributions will be acknowledged.