John Borwick 1924 - 2016

Feature

John Borwick 1924 - 2016
Monday, September 25, 2017

The death was reported last week of long-time audio doyenne John Borwick who devoted his life to all things audio After 11 years at the BBC, where he began as a Studio Manager and became an instructor in Studio Operations, he was made anchor-man of a weekly programme directed at a growing hobby of audio enthusiasts and entitled ‘Sound’. It attracted all the top names in audio at the time, the likes of Gilbert Briggs of Wharfedale fame and Quad’s founder the illustrious Peter Walker. John went on to become a senior lecturer in Recording Techniques at the University of Surrey, not far from his Haslemere home. He went on to become Technical Editor of the newly created Hi-Fi News magazine for two years but it was during his long spell as Audio Director at stately Gramophone magazine that I got to know him as we went on overseas Press trips to various manufacturers’ factories. I recall on my first long-haul to Japan when I’d obviously shown my nervousness about going anywhere quite so ‘foreign’, that he took me under his wing and I felt safe with this expert guide leading the way.

Technical publications bearing his name include luminary text books such as Sound – Facts and Figures, the Loudspeaker and Headphone Handbook published in 1988 as well as contributions to Sound Recording Practice (a title he edited for the Association of Professional Recording Services) which I first encountered at the BBC as a fresh-faced audio trainee getting to grips with the art of tape recorders, microphones and studio mixing desks. It was therefore a delight to meet him personally several years later on hi-fi occasions, be it those media trips or at any number of hi-fi shows of the era.  Maintaining an increasing interest in everything ‘audio’ John edited the journal of British Sound Recording Association, formed in 1968 when such clubs were prevalent in the UK.

A gentleman to the core, who if he detested a product under review would merely remark with a suitable dysphemism, such as it was ‘less than perfect’.
In 2002 John gave a lengthy interview about his life to the Audio Engineering Society which they have made available on DVD.

Trevor Butler

Photographs courtesy of the University of Surrey