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Hank Mahler Dies, Was Innovator for CBS Technology Center

Among other things he helped develop the famous Audimax and Volumax processors

Henry "Hank" Mahler
Henry “Hank” Mahler

Influential media engineer Hank Mahler has died.

Among his contributions to the broadcast industry, he was part of the team at the CBS Technology Center in Connecticut that designed and built the CBS Laboratories Audimax and CBS VoluMax, two audio processors that became widely used in radio and TV.

His passing, on Oct. 5 at the age of 84, has been noted by his colleague Bob Seidel, the former CBS vice president of engineering and advanced technology as well as former president of SMPTE.

Seidel distributed an obituary and appreciation, describing Henry Mahler as an icon.

According to Seidel, Mahler also helped develop the first audio loudness meter for measuring human perception of loudness. And he said many of the audio curves specified by the International Telecommunications Union approximate the original CBS Loudness Meter design from the early 1960s.

“Hank also received a patent for developing an audio meter capable of indicating 60 dB of audio range while the typical VU meter displays approximately a third of that range. Hank also worked on the CBS 360 Record / Player, which was a stereo self-contained solid state audio recorder.”

Mahler went on to be involved in numerous important TV, video and cinema technologies, including developing the famous TV color bars used for calibrating analog color systems. Our sister publication TV Tech has a writeup about his work.

Seidel also provided a personal memory:

“Many a vendor dreaded having their equipment evaluated in the CBS Engineering Lab, because Hank would inevitably uncover issues that required them to ‘go back to the drawing board.’ However, in the end, when the equipment passed Hank’s muster and received the CBS Engineering Lab ‘Good Engineering Seal of Approval,’ it was a world-class product and was recognized by the industry as being top of the line in its category.

“If you wanted to stay on Hank’s good side, you would never interfere with his coffee breaks, which he would announce VERY loudly in his deep baritone voice, ‘COFFEE.’ The lunch time volleyball games at the CBS Laboratories in Stamford, Conn., turned Hank into a jovial, but fierce competitor. There were many CBS Lab colleagues that fell prey to Hank’s practical jokes, and they reciprocated by sending him a fake termination ‘pink slip.’ His office was plastered, not with his technological accomplishment, but with family photos, indicating what was important in his life,” Seidel wrote.

“Hank’s most endearing qualities were his humble nature, engaging smile and willingness to use his vast engineering knowledge to educate his fellow engineers. He will be missed by his immediate family and by his CBS Family who had the privilege of working with him for over 60 years.”

Danbury Memorial and Cremation also has posted an obituary.