21 Feb 2010

Richard Priddle

Cancer takes lives before time, acoustician Richard Priddle made 60 years before departing prematurely at the end of January. He had featured in the very first issue of Channels, the precursor to this magazine, almost 20 years ago.

CX knew him for a decade prior and ran into him in unlikely places. One was Hamilton Island where the first auditorium was burned to the ground. Richard was supervising the second and duplicate audio installation. Other times he would appear at the opening of a new recording studio – he designed more than 100 over his career.

There is no shadow of any doubt this was a brilliant guy. His IQ was massive, and with that came the wonderful quirks of a brilliant mind. He tooled around in an old ute, was born in Sydney but raised near Forbes on the Lachlan River in the middle of the dry plains in western NSW and died in the same town.


You can take the boy out of the bush, but never the bush out of the boy. He went to Uni with his mate Barry McGregor who eulogized at the funeral.

“Through the past two decades Richard became THE sound studio designer in Sydney. People in the industry spoke with reverence when it came to the qualities of the rooms he designed and his teams built. His studios that I have visited are evocative of the ideas he expressed in his architectural work as a student – and an R.J.Priddle style is visible in the rooms, and they have a wonderful natural sound – his great ‘ear’ is apparent.”

This was echoed by Peter Grisard, head of engineering at Jands. “‘He was brilliant, he had such a remarkable ear. This is a huge loss to the industry”.


Michael White at Sound On Stage: “When first setting up Sound on Stage in 1979, Richard was directly involved in what to call the place; and he advised us on a number of speaker designs for Altec Lansing components. The speaker systems developed during that period were ground breaking and the beginning of tri-amplified loudspeaker systems. There are a million other things I could say about Richard.”

John Burnett knew Richard longest in the pro audio community. They shared a keen appreciation of acoustics and specifically amplifier design. Richard wrote to John late last year. He didn’t do emails – a letter from Richard was meticulously typed, printed and mailed. With a stamp on the envelope.

“What I am seeing is that everything old is new again”, Richard reminisced, “you put amplifiers in speakers 30 years ago and people said it was stupid and now every speaker box has an amp plate in the back. I pick up a studio magazine and see a design in a new studio that I did ten years ago”.

The letter struck John hard because Richard was talking about the savagery of his particular cancer, long operations, having all his teeth pulled, not being able to eat, losing 50 kilograms – he was a tall, fit guy without weight to lose.

He said he wanted to move to the Central Coast and work with his son Tobias Jack (born 1988 to then partner Lou).

It was not to be. The dice rolled and Richard was farewelled in his hometown of Forbes early in February.




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