Bloomington, IN (September 7, 2022) — Like so many engineers in the pro audio industry, audio technology consultant Steve Hutt started out very young with a deep love of music and a persevering fascination with applied science and technology. After a decade with Harman managing an all-star engineering team developing high-performing vehicle sound systems, he stepped out on his own with an R&D consulting firm, Equity Sound Investments, assisting manufacturers with loudspeaker and transducer design. A longtime member and chair of the AES Technical Council, Technical Committee on Loudspeakers and Headphones, and the Standards Committee SC04-03 working group on loudspeaker modeling and measurement, Hutt has also been an industry leader in developing standards for loudspeakers. We had an engaging talk with Steve Hutt on music, various audio technologies, and … glue.
Growing up with a mother who was a piano teacher and father who owned a mom-and-pop retail music store in Toronto where local musicians would teach, an interest in music was a natural fit for Steve:
“Getting into music, learning the saxophone, it was kind of a natural for me. On the audio side — like a lot of musicians, I had to learn how to run a PA and haul around a lot of big boxes. They were Altec, JBL, Martin, and so on. I got interested in how they worked, so I studied and learned how to design transducers for smaller systems that played loud. And I’m still working at it! Still trying.”
In terms of his company, Equity Investments biggest innovation, Hutt says that the ability to listen and understand is key:
“As a consultant, I think that my innovation is listening and understanding what companies need and I can help them plan how to get there. I can speak truth to power; perhaps the tooling for a project will take 12 weeks, so the project itself won’t be done in three months. Some of the fifteen patents I did with Harman were quite innovative, but I think the most innovative is a patent that I own. It is based on quality assurance diagnostics for automotive audio, aimed at improving audio for all with the side benefit of reducing warranty costs.”
And when asked about the biggest innovation in the audio industry, Hutt’s answer is simple; it’s glue:
“I have a one-word answer — glue! Loudspeakers should meet at least three objectives: 1) make sound and 2) continue to make sound. Simply, the loudspeaker should never fail. Adhesives available today have improved by magnitudes since the early days of loudspeakers. Perhaps most importantly, as compared with even a few decades ago, mechanical bonds are maintained under extraordinary forces and heat. Quite simply, loudspeakers can now accept more input power and “continue to make sound” without breaking. 3) “Try to make good sound”. When designing loudspeakers we try to achieve high acoustic performance with low distortion for specific tasks and bandwidth and so on. By choosing the correct glue, we can control performance by using appropriately stiff assembly joints or alternatively, soft joints with damping. When we control resonances we can tailor the sound to meet performance targets. Glue, that’s my final answer.”
And Steve Hutt also praises the team at Celestion/GP Acoustics and their horn technology:
“As a company, Celestion/GP Acoustics have a really fantastic staff, with really great skills and balance. And perseverance; they work through and do some innovative things. They’re not flashy! The individuals like Mark Dodd and Jack Oclee-Brown — those guys are brilliant, and Bjørn Kolbrek, who’s literally written the book on horns.
Celestion is able to couple their compression drivers through to the absolute optimized horn that can cater to any client’s need for height, width, depth, and directivity. They have this one driver, the Axi, that can play from 300 Hz out to 20 kHz, right through the usual crossover zone with a single membrane. I’ve seen a lot in my time and it’s very, very impressive. I’m a big fan!”
With worldwide headquarters in Ipswich, England, Celestion design, develop and manufacture premium guitar and bass loudspeakers, and high-quality professional audio drivers for sound reinforcement. These world-renowned speakers are used onstage and in clubs, theatres and other venues the world over. Contact Celestion at: [email protected] and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/celestion.