MATRIXSYNTH: RIP Keith Barr - Founder of Alesis and MXR

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

RIP Keith Barr - Founder of Alesis and MXR

Sad news sent my way via Michelle Moog-Koussa of The Bob Moog Foundation.

via wikipedia on Alesis:

"Alesis Studio Electronics was founded in 1980 by Keith Barr (who co-founded MXR) in Hollywood, California. Sadly, Mr. Barr is reported to have passed away of natural causes on August 24, 2010 at age 61."

Condolences to his friends and family. 61 is too young.

image and the following via Spin Semiconductor
"Keith Barr is the president of Spin Semiconductor, and an avid electronics engineer. Keith has been designing products, primarily for the audio industry. He founded MXR Innovations in 1973, and later, Alesis Corp in 1984. His experience began with tube circuits (when transistors were not available), building amplifiers and radios.

Although an analog engineer at heart, he designs computer architectures, the most recent of which is the FV-1 processor (Spin's first product). Keith sees ASIC design as the next step in electronics engineering, and designs all of his circuits from the bottom up, from the transistor level."

He authored ASIC Design in the Silicon Sandbox: A Complete Guide to Building Mixed-Signal Integrated Circuits.

Update: Keith Barr was the man that made the Andromeda A6 possible. See this post for some history.

Note: I decided to leave this post on top for the remainder of the day. New posts are scheduled to start going up after 2AM PST to make sure folks in the UK/Europe have a chance to see it. You can quickly get back to this post via the Exclusive label above, or of course you can bookmark it.


  1. This is very sad. Keith Barr was an amazing reverb designer, and was very helpful on the Spin Semiconductor forum. He accomplished an enormous amount in his life. Rest in peace.

  2. 61 is way to early for anyone. RIP Keith :(

  3. listening to music through my Alesis monitors right now. RIP

  4. Thanks for designing my first reverb unit, Keith.

    I just got word from Spin Semi's distributor that the FV-1 dsp chip will remain in production. It's been a crazy fun chip to code on.

  5. Great, slightly crazy genius I had the pleasure to work for. One of a kind.

  6. Very sad news and way too young. I always thought Alesis products came out of left field and brought some great unique technologies to the music industry...

  7. Keith was a very generous inventor & a great human being. He helped so many people in his short time here on earth. I'll always have fond memories of my first effects unit, a Midiverb II. You will be missed mate!

  8. I still can't believe it, we were in touch last week and he sounded great.
    Rest in peace Keith.

  9. Can't believe it either...we were having discussion in Taiwan fews weeks ago. RIP Keith

  10. I posted a story he emailed me a few years back on my blog. I really wish that I had asked him more questions - I have the feeling that there were a ton more technical anecdotes that he would have been happy to share. I'm staggered by the sheer breadth of the products he put out during his life.

    The Spin Semiconductor FV-1 is a fantastic chip, and Keith's programs for it are brilliant. I'm glad it will stay in production.

  11. My best friend and partner in all my business career, Keith, I miss you in all my life.Rest in piece.

  12. Alesis was an awesome company. Inexpensive gear that did 95% of what you wanted, was easy to use, and cost a lot less than the competitors. (...and then there was the Andromeda.) Barr made a huge contribution to the arts and the music industry. There should be more companies like his original Alesis around.

  13. I always hope to thank him personally for the Andromeda. Unfortunately that will never happen. I hope he realized what a great contributor he was to electronic music.

  14. His son Stan (Shannon) is one of my best friends, we go to Hockinson High School. He'd been in Taiwan all summer and I hadn't seen him since he got back. It's really too bad, he was a really cool guy and obviously a genius. The night before I took apart my Fender Stratocaster to paint it and I couldn't put it together, and I was like.."I'll just take it Stan's dad". Next morning, he's dead.
    He's affected so many around the world and they don't even really know it. He was a great guy.
    It was all those un-filtered cigarettes. God dammit.
    Rest in peace, Mr. Barr.

  15. Rest in Peace Keith, Thank you for bringing the Magic of tubes to an IC world


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