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Recording entrepreneur Harry Hirsch passes away aged 89

Hirsch was known for his myriad occupations and contributions to the recording industry, including being an engineer, musician, professor, studio owner and designer, and a key figure in the Audio Engineering Society

Long-standing contributor to the recording industry, Harry Hirsch, has sadly passed away as of February 14, aged 89.

Hirsch was known for his multitude of talents and occupations, as an engineer, musician, professor, studio owner and designer, and as a key figure in the Audio Engineering Society.

Born in 1929, Hirsch’s first step into the music business was as a 13 year old drummer in the band, The Catskills. However, he most notably asserted himself in the industry as a recording and mastering engineer, forming a key part of New York City’s recording scene.

As founder and past president of MediaSound and Soundmixers, and as a co-designer of GRP Records and SoundTrack/NY studios, he hosted sessions for Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Nicks, Stevie Wonder, The Who, The Bee Gees, Judy Collins, Meatloaf, and many other significant artists.

Hirsch also worked as a CD reissue producer for 10 Duke Ellington albums, and collaborated with Mercer Ellington on another 10. In 1994, he created Digi-Rom Inc, a New York-based audio CD, CD-ROM, DVD production/replication firm and vinyl mastering house, which went on to sell in 2004.

In addition, Hirsch became a recognised figure in audio education, appointed as dean of the Audio Arts Programme for New York’s Center for The Media Arts in 1981. In the same year, he was also named an adjunct professor at NYU where he lectured for the Music Technology Programme.

In 2005, Hirsch and engineer Irv Joel co-chaired the Historical Committee for the Audio Engineering Society’s 119th Convention, held in New York that year. He went on to serve as AES Convention Historical Committee chair in 2007 and 2009. In 2011, Hirsch was presented with the AES Fellowship Award in recognition of his more than 50 years of pioneering work in the recording industry. He also served two terms as first vice president of the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

“The range and depth of AES Historical Events was impressive, but not surprising, considering Harry Hirsch’s considerable expertise,” remarked AES president and frequent convention co-chair, Agnieszka Roginska. “A long-time AES member, Harry worked closely with elder statesmen Irv Joel, Bill Wray and John Chester on our indispensable AES Oral History Project. He edited nearly 100 hour-long DVD interviews, including in-depth Q&As with industry doyens, Les Paul and Phil Ramone. Harry Hirsch was an irreplaceable fixture at AES Conventions and he has made an indelible contribution to our organisation.”

He is survived by Doris Baran Hirsch, his partner at Digi-Rom and wife of 64 years; sons, Bruce and Marc; and grandchildren Paige and Garret.