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George Petersen is SVC's Senior Consulting Editor. He grew up in Italy, where he performed in rock bands, opening for acts such as The Searchers. Returning to America for...more

ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A CONTRACTOR?

WAY BACK WHEN I WAS A HIGH SCHOOL KID in the Paleolithic 1960s era, I wanted to learn electronics. I experimented a lot (destroying a few radios along the way), assembled Heath and Knight kits, and regularly built DIY projects featured in Radio-Electronics and Popular Electronics magazines.
In-between splattering solder on my thumb and digging into these articles to figure out how to adapt the circuits to 220V/50Hz operation (I was living in Europe at the time), I couldn’t help but notice some ads featuring a stern-faced guy who said, “Get more education or get out of electronics!�
The pitch was to promote a correspondence school’s learn-at-home electronics course. These days I can’t even recall which school it was from, but that man’s message was clear and very relevant. Today’s systems—analog or digital, virtual or actual— are more complex than ever, and keeping up with changing technologies requires continuing education. However, textbook and in-class training alone aren’t enough — actual hands-on experience can make all the difference in the world.
For example, changing a diaphragm on a high-frequency compression driver isn’t exactly rocket science. All you have to do is select the right replacement part (with the proper impedance), remove a few screws, match the polarity of the wires, plop the new one into place, and tighten things down.
However, there’s one detail that shouldn’t be overlooked: the procedure should be done with a NON-ferrous screwdriver. Unless you’re using a brass or an aluminum screwdriver, the powerful gauss field of the driver’s magnetic structure will yank the tool out of your grasp, attracting it into the center of the driver, instantly shredding the fragile, and very expensive, diaphragm. When it happens in the real-life, non-textbook world, it’s not a pretty sight and hardly a lesson that’s soon forgotten.
No matter who you are—novice or expert—we all still have a lot to learn and changing technologies don’t make things easier. For me, that decades-old message from the mean-looking guy in that electronics magazine still holds true. Learning is a lifelong process that we all need to work at.

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About

George Petersen is an internationally recognized expert on audio production; he has written five books and more than 1,000 articles and lectured worldwide; he has been a writer and editor for SVC for 10 years and a leading voice at Mix since 1981. As an IATSE Journeyman, he has done sound reinforcement, 35/70mm motion picture projection, Dolby Stereo theater installs and film/video production. He also operates a record label, ASCAP publishing company, 24-track recording studio, and performs with the Bay Area rock ensemble ARIEL.
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