Since 1989, I have been employed either by tech publications that cover audio, or directly in the audio industry. I’ve been actively involved in audio as a hobbyist and musician since about 1975. I can’t say I’m always right when it comes to audio (no one can), but my work rests on decades of experience, as detailed below:
Reviewed audio products as a freelancer for Wirecutter, Home Theater Review, SoundStage!, Sound & Vision, JazzTimes, About.com and others since 2008
Wrote and edited reviews of literally thousands of audio products as Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment, etown.com and Home Theater, and senior editor of Video magazine from 1989 to 2000 and 2002 to 2007
Measured performance of thousands of audio products using Audio Precision, Audiomatica CLIO, Linear X LMS, SoundCheck and Neutrik analyzers; and G.R.A.S. and B & K headphone measurement systems
Brent demonstrating the ButterSound home surround-sound encoder, from the extras on the Bride of Frank DVD
Own the largest collection of audio measurement gear of any freelance journalist I know of
Conducted and/or participated in hundreds of multi-listener audio product comparison tests since 1991, and made these tests a regular part of Video, Home Theater and Sound & Vision magazines and Wirecutter
Participated in blind speaker comparison tests at Harman International, Paradigm and Canada’s National Research Council
Participated in audio measurement seminars conducted by Listen Inc., Audio Precision and G.R.A.S.
Created and mixed the multichannel and stereo test tones on Chesky Records’ SACD and DVD-Audio test discs
Performed, composed and recorded jazz off and on since 1979, most notably with the New York City jazz group Short Memory. I primarily play bass now, but have also gigged on Chapman Stick and ukulele. I'm not a great performer by any standard, but I do understand music and recording, and am familiar with what instruments sound like. Here are five performances over the years:
One of the custom audio testing switchers Brent has designed and built -- borrowed here for a speaker test by fellow Wirecutter writer Chris Heinonen
Brent with audio legend Bob Carver, famed Vancouver, BC broadcaster Red Robinson, and vintage audio guru Gordon Sauck
Member of the Audio Engineering Society; earned full member status with endorsements from two past AES presidents
Toured audio product factories in the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Britain and Japan
Been in way more anechoic chambers than I can remember and have witnessed, participated in and been instructed in audio measurement techniques by numerous manufacturers
Toured and auditioned more than 100 high-end home theater and two-channel installations during my work as Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment and Home Theater, contributing editor of Sound & Vision and senior editor of Video magazine (here's a cool one)
Attended more than 100 audio shows in the U.S., Canada, China, Germany and Japan as a journalist or exhibitor
Acquired a good general knowledge of analog audio product design; built my first speaker around age 13 and my first preamp at age 16; have built many experimental speakers and electronics for projects published in Home Theater and Sound & Vision; have built custom active testing switchers for my own use and for audio manufacturers.
Acquired a good general knowledge of digital signal processing from my work in engineering consulting and writing white papers for such companies as Analog Devices and DSP Concepts
Consulted with manufacturers on design and tuning of audio products, mostly active (internally amplified) products such as soundbars and wireless speakers
Worked as marketing director for the licensing division of Dolby Laboratories from 2000 to 2002, where I learned a great deal about audio data compression and reduction, digital signal processing, technology licensing and overseas manufacturing
World's most active advocate of CEA-2010 subwoofer output measurements (here’s the manual I wrote)
Perhaps the world's most outspoken advocate of speaker measurements in reviews (here’s an article I wrote explaining how and why it’s done)
Recorded as a musician or voiceover producer in numerous professional studios in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Francisco.
Recorded many NYC jazz, folk and rock musicians in the late 1990s at a wide variety of venues using multitrack ADAT and MiniDisc recorders.
Attended audiophile recording sessions conducted by Chesky Records and M.A. Recordings
Attended DSD recording sessions for Amazonas by jazz saxophonist Terry Landry with famed audiophile producer Joe Harley, and attended the mastering session with Bernie Grundman, one of the world's top mastering engineers
Mentioned in the Loudspeaker Design Cookbook, 7th Edition, as a recognized expert on in-wall speakers
Invented ButterSound, a real-time surround-sound active matrix encoder used in The Bride of Frank, a John Waters-style low-budget indie movie shown at the New York Underground Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco ("the most hilariously crass 89 minutes you've seen in aeons," said the San Francisco Bay Guardian) and film festivals in Italy, Switzerland and Britain. Here's a YouTube video from the DVD extras in which I demonstrate it (not safe for work!). This clip also features the ButterSound trailer, which I animated on a Commodore Amiga.
Brent rehearsing with NYC jazz group Short Memory on Chapman Stick (left, circa 1998) and electric ukelele (circa 2012)