US: The 123rd AES Convention in New York City last month saw Soundcraft technical director and co-founder Graham Blyth receive the organisation’s prestigious Fellowship Award. According to AES president Wieslaw Woszczyk, the award was given “in recognition of [Blyth’s] distinguished career in mixing console design and service to the Society”, writes David Davies.
The Fellowship Award – traditionally presented at the AES Convention’s opening ceremony – is given each year to a very few Society members that have “rendered conspicuous service or [are] recognised to have made a valuable contribution to the advancement in or dissemination of knowledge of audio engineering or in the promotion of its application in practice.”
Blyth’s long career started to take shape with his electrical engineering studies at Bristol University. Following productive periods at Compton Organs and Graseby Instruments, Blyth joined late mentor Bill Kelsey at Kelsey & Morris, where he assisted in the design and construction of mixers for acts including King Crimson and Ten Years After. In the early ’70s, having resolved to build his own mixer, Blyth moved on to co-found the company that would become Soundcraft with Phil Dudderidge and Paul Dobson.
In more recent years, Blyth – who continues to work for Soundcraft in the role of technical director – has returned to his musical studies on both piano and organ, performing high-profile recitals in London and New York. He has also become a prominent figure in the design of digital organs.
“I was absolutely delighted and very proud to receive a Fellowship Award from the Audio Engineering Society, and to be sharing the moment with such luminaries as Phil Ramone, Bob Ludwig and Neil Muncie,” says Blyth, who is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. “Many reading this will have attended the AES conventions but few will have escaped the exhibition and found the treasure trove of workshops, tutorials and paper sessions that are what the AES is all about, and it’s only when you get involved with these that you realise the huge importance of the society to our industry. I’m also extremely grateful that they not only put up with my organ playing at most conventions, but actively encourage it by arranging for me to perform on some of the finest organs in Europe and America.”
Asked by PSN-e to nominate the proudest achievement of his time with Soundcraft, Blyth responds: “I think I’d have to say the 2400 recording console with its transformless mic preamps and its integrated patchbay using an IDC cabling system. It was innovative in so many ways and at a price which made it possible for budget studios to up their game considerably.”