Widely recognized as the inventor of the automatic microphone mixer, Dan Dugan of Dan Dugan Sound Design has been involved in the professional audio industry for his entire career, which spans four decades.
Dan Dugan has always been fascinated by combinations of art and technology. As a child, when he was taken to the theater he always wanted to go backstage to see the light board. In his teens he built a huge model circus and two small pipe organs. He was very active in music, singing bass in the church choir, the San Diego Bach Chorus, Roger Wagner’s summer workshops, and in madrigal groups performing on the green at the Shakespeare Festival. In college he dropped out of a four-year scholarship to work full-time in the theater doing lighting, which became his first career. He did lighting designs for the San Diego National Shakespeare Festival, the San Diego Opera, and the San Francisco Actors’ Workshop.
At age 24 Dan switched to doing theater sound, working for the San Diego National Shakespeare Festival and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. The title “Sound Designer” was created in 1968 to describe what Dan was doing. He provided sound services for many seasons of the Mondavi Jazz Festival, and engineered several independent record albums, including Kate Wolf’s first two albums, which are still in print.
Dan is well-known in audio engineering as the inventor of the automatic microphone mixer. His patented equipment is used in thousands of churches, courtrooms including the trial of Saddam Hussein, and on television shows including the PBS NewsHour, Washington Week, presidential debates, and ESPN sports commentary. Currently he works in his laboratory in San Francisco manufacturing his inventions, servicing sound equipment for the film industry, and editing his surround-sound nature recordings.