Personal History of Duncan Scobie

My interest in electrical things began at an early age. I recall being four years old, and collecting old extension cords. I recall connecting a number of extension cords in series, plugging the first one into an outlet in the basement, and stringing the cords up stairways eventually ending in my bedroom, where I connected a lamp to the last extension cord. After I plugged my Dad's keys into an outlet, he confiscated my collection of extension cords, and began supplying me with flashlight batteries. I then progressed to experimenting with battery powered motors and lamps.

At eight years I received an electronics experimenter's kit which included transistors. By my early teens, which was in the 1960's, I built a single-ended tube amplifier, followed by a sterio single-ended tube amplifier. These were followed by a number of pushpull tube and transistor amplifiers. I used various home-built speakers with these amplifiers, employing both alnico magnets and electromagnets. I became self-taught in the basic principles of the art of electronics.

My introduction to conceptual beauty seemed to arrive with the study of mathematics and physics, although I had always liked things like watching a butterfly unfold its wings for the first time. I was awarded the Governor General's Bronze Medal in 1973 after writing scholarship examinations in physics and mathematics. After completing a university degree in physics, I worked in ocean physics and in traffic volume studies, where I developed innovative techniques of digital filtering. After that, I worked as an assistant Medical Physicist at a community hospital. In addition to medical physics, I also was system manager and network manager of a prototype medical imaging communications system that was advanced technology at the time, but has since been eclipsed by the Internet.

In 1991, I took a six month trip to the South Pacific, visiting Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Tahiti. I met a friend in Perth, Western Australia, and we bought a van and went touring. We travelled in the outback from the Indian Ocean, across the Northern Territory, and through Queensland. We camped everywhere, and hiked and swam in beautiful waterholes, a couple of times with crocodiles. During this time of living without the stresses of modern life, I experienced a steady and noticable healing of my nervous system, including my brain. I got to the point where I became unaware of the physical presence of my brain. This was akin to initially having a painful injury, and eventually healing so that attention is no longer paid to the once injured part.

One day, after about three months of a steady diet of red dust, I surveyed the landscape of spinefex, termite mounds, red earth and red hills. As I did this, I experienced the sensation that I no longer existed as a physical entity, but only as a spirit. I sensed that I had become something akin to a breath of wind, existing silently upon the landscape. A friend later referred to this experience as "having the consciousness of the dingo". This was my closest experience to the Buddha state of mind, which could also be characterised as being "fully healed". I had achieved a mental state that is pretty rare in Western culture, that is, the ability to see even a small part of reality. As the days slowly rolled by in the outback, I lost all interest in doing work that was lacking in inspiration and creativity. My exposure to beauty, for an extended period of time, greatly increased my appreciation for beauty. As time passed, my priorities merged with the concept of following the good but often hard path in life.

What to Do on the Good Path of Truth and Reality

Soon after returning to Canada, I met a friend who was making audio cables of high quality and innovative design. I attended, for several years, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where I was introduced to the state of the art in high end audio. I was most impressed by Japanese single ended amplifiers because it seemed to me that the designer was one of the few who seemed to really care about how the amplifier sounded. Other people were engineering amplifiers with the goal of getting good specifications into a resistor using test signals, and not music heard from a speaker. My sense of the beauty of music drew me in the direction of trying to build a better sounding amplifier. In 1991, I began what would turn out to be an eight year quest to come up with two things: firstly, the theoretical basis of an ideal amplifier, and secondly to build amplifiers that would closely mimic the function of the ideal amplifier. Initially, I thought I was just trying to create a better sounding hifi system; the goals of identifying the ideal amplifier and building this revealed themselves only after a great deal of effort had been expended.

Copyright 2011 Duncan Scobie. All rights reserved.


The Spiritual Path
& Reproduction of
Beautiful Music
History of
Duncan Scobie
Technical Discussion
of Amplifier Design
Other Audio
Design Projects

Truth in Audio
Duncan Scobie
1156 Union Road, Victoria, BC, V8P 2J3, Canada
E-Mail: lankford@shaw.ca
URL: www.crunchers.bc.ca/scobie

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