David Blackmer, the founder of dbx and president of EarthworksAudio, passed away on March 21, 2002, at his home in Wilton, NewHampshire. A radio-building hobbyist since age 10, Blackmer started inthe audio business as a stock boy at Boston’s Lafayette Radio in the1940s, surprising the staff by fixing radios that had been deemedunrepairable. While in the Navy, he learned radar electronics and laterstudied at Harvard and MIT, followed by jobs at Trans-Radio RecordingStudio and Raytheon, where he designed telemetry circuits for theMercury space program.
When Trans-Radio owner Lou Lindauer formed API in 1968, he turned toBlackmer for help in designing recording products, which led to thedevelopment of the VCA and level-detector circuits used incompressor/limiters.
In 1971, Blackmer founded dbx, based on the concept of using decibelexpansion (hence the name “dbx”) to replace the peaks lost from thelimited dynamic range of magnetic tape. This led to much more.Blackmer’s VCA and RMS detector changed the world of audio, yieldingclassic products such as dbx noise reduction, dbx compressors, thesubsonic synthesizer, OEM VCAs for automated consoles, and circuits forearly stereo televisions.
Blackmer sold dbx to BSR in 1979 and stayed with the company forseveral years. He went on to form Earthworks–initially as aconstruction company to restore an old mill he bought in NewHampshire–but returned to his love of audio in developing Earthworks’award-winning line of high-performance microphones, Zero DistortionTechnology preamps, and its newest products, the Sigma 6.2time-coherent, 40kHz-bandwidth reference monitors.
Besides touching the lives of millions of listeners worldwide withindustry-standard products that have stood the test of time, DavidBlackmer’s lifelong quest for excellence in audio remains aninspiration to audio professionals everywhere. He will be missed.