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Obituary: Steve Jones 1952-2013

Internationally renowned audio consultant Steve Jones has died after a short illness. Jim Griffiths and Roland Hemming pay tribute.

We are very sad to announce the death of Steve Jones, who has died after a short illness.

Steve was an internationally renowned audio consultant, working on projects such as the Millennium Dome, Wembley Stadium, Millennium Stadium, Ascot Racecourse and Tel Aviv opera house.

In addition to project work, he was also very active in helping with Standards. He was instrumental in creating BS7827 for sound systems at sports grounds. He also worked on BS5839-8, the code of practice for voice alarm. More recently he was working on revisions to the EN54 standards.

His 45-year career started at EMI, initially working on defence projects. Steve helped build the sound mixers for Abbey Road including the TG12345 – the first transistorised mixer. He also worked with Peter Dix, measuring reverberation time. This was for the design of the (successful) mushrooms at the Royal Albert Hall.

He was asked to deliver some parametric equalisers to Abbey Road and was about to leave when the engineer told him to wait “until John was happy”. He applied for a job there and worked as a tape editor. Since he could read music, he was assigned classical work, which he found “boring”.

After EMI he worked for Ferrograph selling multitrack tape recorders, and then Hayden Laboratories selling Telefunken (maker of the first 48-track), Sondor, and Sennheiser.

After that he worked for Electrosonic for seven years. Steve was the only pure audio person they have ever employed. With significant funding from the Arts Council he did many theatre projects for them, looking after the sound and communications. This work then took him all over Europe.

Starting up on his own, his first job was for Cable & Wireless and he found himself bidding against Electrosonic for a job in the Middle East. With his BBC Model B computer he used C&W’s ‘Easy Link’, one of the first ever email systems. Because he could respond much more quickly he won the job.

He could boast of being arrested more than 20 times in one day whilst working in Hong Kong. He was conducting sound tests at the Hong Kong Stadium and each time he did a test he was arrested for making too much noise and taken to a side room where, each time, he subsequently proved he was below any limits.

At the IOA Reproduced Sound conference in the late 80s he met Jim Griffiths. Steve was armed with the half written spec for Tel Aviv. Jim asked if Steve could design the system for Wembley Stadium.

Through the 1990s, he worked with Jim at Travers Morgan, who became Symonds Travers Morgan then Capita, eventually becoming an employee. The ‘alas Griff and Jones’ trick worked on many projects – Millennium Stadium Cardiff, Twickenham Stadium, Ascot Racecourse, the Millennium Dome and many more.

In recent years he worked for himself again.

Always willing to speak his mind he recently reiterated some of his thoughts on the industry. “People get the standards they deserve,” he said – commenting that many companies complain about standards like EN54, but did not try to get on the committee. He also said that attendance from audio people at committee meetings was often poor: “The reason why we get fire-orientated standards is because fire people attend.”

He also said that “every UK stadium is possibly illegal”, referencing the fact that none of the standards set a tolerance for load monitoring of loudspeaker circuits. “If you follow the rules of the current standards you risk losing too many loudspeakers but still thinking your system is OK.”

Those of us lucky enough to know him got to know a kind, intelligent man who truly cared about the people he worked with and the projects he worked on.

RIP Steve.

Jim Griffiths, Vanguardia Consulting
Roland Hemming, RH Consulting