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GENIUS! #22: George Massenburg and parametric EQ

To this day, channel EQs based on the designs of Massenburg or fellow pioneers Daniel N. Flickinger and Burgess MacNeal remain ubiquitous

A recording engineer who has worked on more than 400 records over five decades – including landmark releases by Little Feat, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Randy Newman – George Massenburg is nonetheless most closely identified with his groundbreaking work in the field of parametric EQ.

Equipped to make more precise adjustments than other types of equalisers, parametric EQs allow users to control three primary parameters: amplitude, centre frequency and bandwidth. Their capabilities have seen them become defaults for studio recording and live sound.

In 1972 Massenburg completed the writing of an influential technical paper, entitled Parametric Equalisation, which was presented at the 42nd AES Convention. Massenburg’s firm, George Massenburg Labs (GML), has subsequently released a long series of parametric EQs, including the industry-standard 8200. To this day, channel EQs based on the designs of Massenburg or fellow pioneers Daniel N. Flickinger and Burgess MacNeal remain ubiquitous.

Founded in 1982, GML has gone on to develop an extensive range of console automation devices, analogue signal processors, microphone preamplifiers and power supplies, all based on Massenburg’s original circuit designs. Among the firm’s most celebrated products is the GML8900 Dynamic Range Controller, which is designed to react to loudness in the way our ears do – rather than to voltage levels. (Pictured right is the GML 8200.)

Still deeply involved with R&D, Massenburg was awarded a further patent in 2013 for a variable exponent averaging detector and dynamic range controller. Underlining academic credentials that include several visiting professorships, Massenburg also serves as the CTO of METAlliance (the Music Engineering Technical Alliance), a union of music producers and engineers focused on achieving the highest standards of audio and music delivery.

Rounding out a fulsome CV, Massenburg continues to design major recording studios, with credits including The Complex and George Lucas’s Skywalker Sound in California, and Blackbird Studio in Nashville.

Hail to the boffins! Genius! is all about celebrating those clever people whose inventions have transformed the world of professional audio. Mailed out with the February print edition of PSNEurope, the 36-page supplement is also available to read in handy digital-edition form. Read it online, or download as a PDF, at