In our previous segment in the HARMAN Innovator Series, we profiled Gerald Stanley, the father of the high-powered solid state amplifier. This time, we’re taking a look at another great HARMAN engineer, Ralph Hyde. Ralph has been designing innovative speaker solutions for HARMAN for 27 years. He got his start at JBL in 1988, coming over from Electro-Voice.
Since then, Ralph has brought dozens of new loudspeakers to production. Since 1992, Ralph has become the king of bass, being a central designer behind JBL’s larger woofers. His particular area of expertise is transducers, which are the heart of speakers. The transducer is the piece of equipment that converts the electrical energy of an amplifier and converts it into the soundwaves we hear.
Ralph has designed and brought more than 60 transducers to production for JBL and contributed to the design of many others. He works on improving JBL’s industry-leading dual-coil magnetic designs that use a parallel configuration of smaller, stronger magnets to provide better audio quality in lighter-weight speaker. Ralph’s technology centers on improving the transducers in these systems so that there is less distortion in the sound and more movement for the cone. In a woofer, more movement in the cone means better bass response and an increased sound pressure level (SPL). He also invented a way to apply JBL’s patented VGC™ transducer technology to dual-coil subwoofers, providing better power handling and, again, further-increased SPL.
It will probably come as no surprise that Ralph actually holds three patents and shares two others for subwoofer technology and design. If you ever go to the movies, a concert or any large venue, odds are high that the booming bass you feel is from one of his transducers.
When he is outside the office, Ralph enjoys camping and the outdoors. He’s a fan of “rock hounding” (or lapidary, if you want the technical term), which involves going out into the desert and finding what he calls “pretty rocks” (agates and other crystals). Some of the rocks he keeps as decoration and others his wife makes into jewelry.
Of course, Ralph’s love of technology bleeds over into his love of the outdoors as well. As much as Ralph loves hiking, backpacking and skiing, he is also interested in solar architecture, sustainable living and electric cars (Ralph is on his second and says he’ll never drive a gas car again). He’s also looking at farming and winemaking, as he starts to consider a well-deserved retirement in the coming years.