Farewell Gary Altunian

It is with profound sadness that I report the passing of Gary Altunian, a colleague and friend of many years. It looked as though he had won his long battle with cancer a few years ago, only to have it recently return with a vengeance. He finally succumbed on March 15, 2011, at the age of 59.

I first met Gary in the early 1990s when he was National Training Manager for Yamaha Electronics. I was just beginning my career as a journalist in consumer electronics (I had previously covered pro audio), and he helped me with my coverage of Yamaha CE products. We became friends and then colleagues when he left Yamaha in 2003 to pursue his own career as a freelance audio journalist. He was an excellent and conscientious writer, and I hired him whenever I could to contribute to whatever magazine or website I was working on at the time.

I was particularly impressed that Gary went to the trouble of building false walls in his home studio, which allowed him to install and review in-wall speakers without damaging the room itself. That's rare dedication, which led many editors to assign him such reviews. Of course, his excellent ears and writing skills didn't hurt, either!

The most memorable assignment I gave him was to help cover the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show for UAV. It was his twentieth CES (not counting the summer show that used to be held in Chicago each June), and he provided superb coverage with some great color-commentary posts as well as hard news about audio products. My favorite was "My Friend Bob" about stopping for lunch at Bob's Big Boy in Victorville, CA, on his way to Vegas.

I was also impressed by Gary's insatiable thirst for knowledge. Even though he was primarily an audio guy, he took the 3-day THX video-training course, which required him to complete eight TV calibrations after the course itself was finished. Twice, he drove all the way from Oceanside (near San Diego) to Burbank—a 2-hour trip each way—to perform these calibrations at our testing lab, where we had plenty of TVs to work on. I was happy to help him in this task, after which we enjoyed a good meal together.

Gary was always upbeat and positive, even in the face of a devastating disease. He always had a smile on his lips and a joke at the ready, and I valued our friendship greatly. He deserved far better than the hand he was dealt, and I shall miss him terribly.

I invite and encourage anyone who knew Gary to post a comment here in tribute to his memory.

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jberthoty's picture

I had the pleasure of working with Gary as board members for our HOA. He took over the sometimes thankless job of board president with grace and determination. Gary was a gentleman who was always calm, willing, and helpful in spite of his, now obvious, challenges. I wish we had spent more time together. I was going to teach him to play the banjo!

rsilvago's picture

Gary was a very kind and generous person. As a consumer electronics journalist, he was always very professional and very knowledgeable in the world of audio, as well as video. We got together regularly to cover trade shows, such as CES and CEDIA, where we had some interesting adventures, and we also collaborated on some product reviews. In the few short years I have known him, he became a great friend and fantastic colleague. I will miss him greatly, both personally and professionally.

Robert Silva

Sue Toscano's picture

Although I didn't know Gary well, I was very saddened to hear the news. I always found him to be a wonderful and kind person. He touched many people in this industry and he will be sorely missed by all.

Sue Toscano

uavNicollPR's picture

Gary has been a friend for so many years and this was very difficult news for us to hear as we had spent quite a lot of time with him at CES and he looked fabulous and said that he was done with his latest treatments and was doing fine. It must have changed right after the show.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family of which he always talked about with such joy.

Rest in peace Gary - you are going to be missed so very much.

AudioPR's picture

Thank you for sharing this tribute. As a PR guy, I had the good fortune to work with Gary on many reviews as well as at trade shows. As you say, he was one of the few dedicated enough to tackle in-walls, but my lasting memory will be just talking music with him in the halls of the Venetian during CES.

RIP Gary, you will be missed.

wircmedia's picture

I very much enjoyed working with Gary; he was always energized, highly knowledgeable and a true gentleman. I wish his friends and family peace during this most difficult time.

Micah Sheveloff

A_Grimani's picture

I was shocked to hear the terrible news. All I can say is that we need more people like Gary around, and am sad to hear that we lost him. He has always been kind, patient, thorough, generous and good-humored, even through his health battles.

Gary, I miss you already...

Tony Grimani

gmckenna2's picture

I always enjoyed spending time with Gary at tradeshows or for product reviews. In an age where bloggers and reviewers focus more on snarky commentary than real substance, Gary delivered stories and reviews that demonstrated his passion for movies and music, as well as helping people decide what to buy.

We need more guys like Gary who do the job because they love the gear and they love what it brings to our lives. He'll be missed.

Graham McKenna
Gracenote, Inc.(formerly at THX)

PeterHoagland's picture

I had the pleasure of first knowing Gary as a fine journalist and then the privilege of knowing him as a friend.

Without question, Gary was a true professional and took what he did seriously and passionately. Yet he never took himself too seriously and that was his real charm.

I will miss Gary as an industry colleague, working with him on the many wonderful reviews he did for my clients. And I will surely miss his smiling face at trade shows where he was always eager to see and hear the latest.

Most of all, I will miss him greatly as a friend and in fact, I already do.

Peter Hoagland

uavMike Wood's picture

I met Gary through email and phone when I was editor at Digital TV magazine (back in '03-04) and hired him regularly thanks in no part to his technical expertise and easy-to-understand writing style. The fact that he was always highly professional as well as enjoyable to talk with made it that much easier to work with him.
I finally met Gary in person last year when he reviewed one of our products that I helped deliver and setup. Throughout all his personal experience, he maintained that same level of professionalism and amiability that I had known at Digital TV. He will be missed.


AdamSohmer's picture

As so many have noted, Gary was a stellar journalist, a true CE enthusiast, and just a great guy to spend time with at trade events, company dinners and whenever I was lucky enough to cross paths with him. His love of his work was wholly transparent, and I was thrilled when, early on in his battle, it looked like he had won. It was always a pleasure to speak with him about every subject under the sun, especially audio. Now I just feel gypped.

Rest easy friend.


DPBarker's picture

I first met Gary when he was the Training Mgr. at Yamaha, and he dealt with the press. He was a really nice guy, and very helpful in making me understand all of Yamaha's surround processing technologies. Back in the 1980's Yamaha was quite innovative in surround sound, and Gary made it very easy to understand. While we never hung out together, I would always see him at CEDIA and CES in later years. I even ran into him this past January 2011 at CES. He was always friendly and had a good word to say. He will be missed by all in the industy who knew him.

uavGSPR's picture

I feel fortunate to have worked with Gary on many reviews and articles over the years. He was a thoughtful and professional reviewer, an entertaining writer, and he had a great sense of humor. Like Scott, I remember being amazed when Gary actually built walls to review in-wall speakers. It seemed so 'above and beyond the call of duty' at the time, but Gary couldn't imagine doing it any other way. I'm going to miss that rich voice on the other end of the phone.

Gordon Sell

joel@imagingscience.com's picture

We were terribly saddened to hear about Gary's passing

We have lost a valued and experienced voice in our industry.

We first worked with Gary when he helped bring ISF trainings to Yamaha staff. He absolutely loved tweaking everything to perfection.

Gary and I were both chagrined to see the CMS and video processing on Yamaha DLP so far ahead of its time that the market was not ready for it - now of course those features are expected - and Gary saw it all unfold.

I will miss him.......


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