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GENIUS! #19: Herbert Jünger and the Jünger Audio D1

The D1 was among the first digital compressor–limiters

Herbert Jünger grew up in the old East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic (GDR) as it was formally known. During the mid-1970s he studied electronic engineering and then worked for a high frequency measurement company. He also played in bands, where his knowledge of electronics was useful to his fellow musicians.

“There was nothing available in the GDR at that time, so everything had to be rebuilt or copied,” he explains. The same was true in broadcasting, and Jünger’s talent for creating equipment that was becoming commonplace in the West brought him to the attention of television and radio engineers.

At the beginning of the 1980s Jünger produced the first analogue compressor in East Germany, based on the VCAs of a dbx unit that had been brought in via his aunt. This was followed by the analogue Dynamic Transponders that made his name among broadcast engineers looking to reduce the wide dynamic range of CDs for FM transmission.

The algorithm Jünger developed for these units also formed the basis of the first digital products products produced by his new company, Jünger Audio, which was formed with his wife Irmgard in 1990 following the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year. The D1 was among the first digital compressor–limiters and addressed what Jünger saw as a distinct need in the German market: “There were the first digital recorders and mixers but no processors. With the growth in CD mastering there was a great need to use all the headroom of 16-bit without clipping and artefacts.” The D1 was short-lived but led to the D01, D02 and D03, which were used widely in broadcasting and mastering.