Pat And Brenda Brown Build On SynAudCon’s Foundation Of Advanced Learning With A Personal Touch
- by Kirsten Nelson
Brenda and Pat Brown
SCN: Pat, after earning an electrical engineering degree in 1978, what was it about the relatively new science of sound reinforcement that was most exciting to you?
Pat Brown: My degree is in Electrical Engineering Technology, which is sort of "engineering lite." Most of it was circuit theory and had no direct application to sound reinforcement, other than the workings of components at the circuit board level. I was attracted to audio because I liked working with my hands, and had a background as a musician. I could easily hear audio and acoustic problems, but I wanted to understand what I was hearing. That's a whole different ball game.
SCN: Brenda, you originally set out to be "the best nurse in southern Indiana" and found yourself traveling the world hosting training sessions, workshops, and facility tours. What was it that surprised you most about the audio industry when it became a part of your life almost from the minute you met Pat 34 years ago?
Brenda Brown: My transition to the audio world was gradual so I did not really have that "Ah hah" moment. Two years after we were married, we bought a music store (1981). I worked full time as a registered nurse. On my days off, I worked with Pat in the music store. Back then, the interest rate on our loan was 12 percent, which was a good deal at the time. We did what we needed to do to pay off the loan as quickly as we could. My tasks were mainly the bookkeeping, selling simple things, and cleaning. I love to be with people so I always enjoyed our customers.
With the birth of our three children, I had less involvement with the audio industry until 1996 when we bought SynAudCon. It wasn't until 1999 that I left nursing to work full time with SynAudCon and the audio industry.
In the 1990s, Pat Brown served as SynAudCon founder Don Davis’ assistant, teaching courses.SCN: Pat, your background as a musician, sound technician, music store owner, contractor, and consultant puts you in a unique position as an educator. What is the key philosophical difference between your courses for designers versus technicians?
PB: I firmly believe that field work should be a prerequisite to sound system design. If you isolate the design process from installation, there is no balance. You look at loudspeaker selection and placement differently after you have flown/installed hundreds of loudspeakers. I had to do a lot of things that made no technical or practical sense because the system was designed by a consultant who never got out from behind his computer. The measurement and design processes that we teach are rooted in listening. Good listeners can be good measurers and good designers. Software is pretty easy to use these days, but possession of a measurement or design package does not make one qualified. The real questions are "What should I measure?" and "What loudspeaker(s) should I put where?" Computers can tell you neither, but they can help you evaluate your ideas.
SCN: Brenda, what is it about SynAudCon that seems to inspire a unique level of engagement among the students?
BB: I love people and I enjoy being with them. Every person has an interesting life story and I love hearing about it. After hearing their story, I develop a new respect for the individual and a natural connection develops. Many of our grads return for additional training. With each meeting, the connection seems to grow as I learn more about them.
SCN: Pat and Brenda, you are well known as the dynamic and generous husband and wife team who took the helm of SynAudCon when the beloved duo of Don and Carolyn Davis retired. The Davises encouraged you to run the business as a team. What have you found to be the secret of a successful combined effort in business?
BB: As I watched Pat teach and listen to the attendees’ input, it was obvious that he has a gift for teaching. My job is to simply support his efforts. We have the same goal and we have a mutual respect for each other. I take his suggestions seriously and he does the same for mine. Most of the time we are on the same page, so it is easy.
A husband/wife business relationship has made our life fuller. Our common interest goes way beyond our family, home, and our hobbies. We know the same people and we experience our daily activities together. As I look back on our lives, everything I experienced has been with Pat and it has been a fun and exciting adventure.
Pat in his contracting days.
SCN: How would you complete the following statements?
The most important thing to learn about audio is... what you don't know.