Obituary: Dudley Wallis, acoustic engineer

Alan Dudley Wallis, who has died at 86, was an acoustic engineer who helped found the pioneering manufacturer Cirrus Research, based at Hunmanby near Filey.

Dudley Wallis

Alan Dudley Wallis, who has died at 86, was an acoustic engineer who helped found the pioneering manufacturer Cirrus Research, based at Hunmanby near Filey.

Dudley, as he was known, was instrumental in the firm’s early years and in the development of many of the products for which it is still known.

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The company was formed in 1970 to specialise in the design and manufacture of different types of acoustic measuring instruments. The work that Dudley and his team started set the global standard for acoustic technology which others would later follow and which led to Cirrus being ranked amongst the world leaders in its field.

His research included developing a then-revolutionary sound level meter that included noise exposure times. He used integrated circuits in place of transistors and developed the world’s first continuous sound level meter for both hearing damage and environmental measurements – a device that is taken for granted today.

In 1982, he was seconded to the IEC international standards body and was responsible with three other British engineers, for setting down much of the noise measurement standard used today.

In 1991, under Dudley’s lead, and with its noise measurement equipment exported to more than 50 countries, Cirrus was awarded the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.

Dudley was typically modest about his achievements. “I am far from being a brilliant designer,” he said, “but I have been seriously lucky and have had wonderful co-workers, most of whom became friends.”

He was also fiercely defensive of the independent status of his company, insisting that the only loss was the “bragging rights” of claiming to be bigger than everyone else. “Staying small and independent means you are masters of your own destiny and will stand or fall by your own actions,” he said.

He retired from day-to-day involvement with Cirrus in 1996. He is survived by Lynda, his wife of 46 years, and by two daughters and three sons, one of whom, Daren, is chief executive of Cirrus Research today.