Written by Amy on January 24, 2011

After a long and detailed career of working in the audio industry SAE graduate
Peter Hornak – who finished in 1979 and was part of one of the first ever SAE
courses to have run out of our Sydney campus – has finally found his niche audio
court reporting in Hong Kong.

Originally Peter began studying electrical engineering at Sydney University but
his “first love” of audio electronics proved to be too strong and thus he soon made
the switch to SAE Institute describing his time there by saying, “I loved every
minute of the course because it put together two of my main interests, music and
electronics. I was particularly interested in studio design, something that has
helped me enormously when contributing to the design and acoustic treatments
of courtrooms in some of my projects.”

Below, Peter reflects on his time studying at SAE below as well as his
comprehensive journey working as an audio professional:

“I graduated from the course in Sydney in 1979. The Soundcraft console and the
24-track recorder were newly installed and Tom Misner was our educator for the
majority of the course. There was a guest lecturer for the more pure electronics
aspects, Paul Noskowski if I remember correctly.

“I recall that Tom had brought a newspaper advertisement in to class for a job
as an engineer. It was for the Commonwealth Reporting Service and we all
speculated what equipment they may be using. I decided to apply for the job just
for fun and for practice – I was able to rattle off the ballistics of a VU meter and
calculations for reverb time, which seemed to impress them and I got the job. I
believe I was the first person to actually get a job in an audio related field as a
direct result of the SAE course.

“(Coinciding with the newly acquired job) I also set up my own recording studio
– Dream Studios, first in Parramatta, then moved to Central and finally to Bay-
5 in The Haymarket. Tom helped me with quite a few prized items of hardware
– Lexicon Prime Time – Model 93, 8 DBX units hooked to my Tascam 8-Track
recorder, various microphones and a Technics RS-1500 closed loop master
recorder. Dream Studios produced several singles, EPs and a few albums for
artists like The Cockroaches, Light House Keepers, The Triffids and JFK and the
Cuban Crisis.


Image 1 : Peter, Dream Studios (Bay 5)


Image 2 : Peter, Dream Studios (Parramatta)


“Soon my professional career in court recording and in litigation support took
over from my studio activities. Australia was a pioneer in the concept of using
digital audio recording equipment to capture and archive the court audio
record. This was partly because an Australian company, Southern Broadcasting
Systems (SBS), which produced digital recorders for automated radio stations,
was looking to diversify but also because legislation was past in Australia that
recognised digital audio as an option for the official court record. SBS split into

two companies, FTR (ForTheRecord) and CourtSmart, both of which specialise in
digital audio recording systems for courts.

“Based originally on a 4-Channel tape recording system, the digital version had
recording capacity for 48 simultaneous channels or 12 courtrooms. Typically
the Judge would be recorded on Channel 1, Witness on Channel 2, the Defence
Counsel on 3 and the Prosecution Counsel on Channel 4. This technology soon
found a home in other parts of the world, which is what lead me to settle in Hong
Kong in 1996 where the first purpose-built digital audio recording setups were

“My original role was to project manage the installation of digital audio
equipment in some 150 courtrooms spread across 10 sites. This involved audio
and network cabling, hardware installation and software installation. Since then,
my skills have taken me to projects in Malaysia, Singapore, Bahrain, Sri Lanka,
Japan and the Bahamas.

Currently, Peter resides and works back in Hong Kong, maintaining the systems
and developing several other court related technologies. We asked what advice he
would give to current and prospective SAE students, Peter replied:

“I would say that there are many areas where the knowledge gained in the
course can be applied. Speaking from experience, recording studios are not
very profitable but there are careers to be found elsewhere such as venue
management, exhibition co-ordination and court reporting where the knowledge
gained at the School of Audio Engineering can set you apart from other


Image 3: Peter in the Control Room – Fanling Law Courts, Hong Kong


Image 4: Courtroom – Hong Kong

Peter face
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