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Lecture to Focus on Electret Microphones and their Applications

New York, August 20, 2002-The 113th AES Convention Heyser Lecture Series will feature a keynote address by Jim West, research scientist in the multimedia technologies research labs of Avaya. West's pioneering research on charge storage and transport in polymers (the electrical analogy of a permanent magnet) led to the development of electret transducers for sound recording and voice communication. His priniciples first published in the early 1960's are the basis for almost 90% of all microphones built today.

The title of West's lecture is, "Electret Microphones and their Applications." It is well known that condenser microphones are the transducer of choice when accuracy, stability, frequency characteristics, dynamic range, and phase are important. But conventional condenser microphones require critical and costly construction, as well as the need for a high DC bias for linearity. These disadvantages ruled out advanced practical microphone designs such as multi- element arrays and the use of linear microphones in telephony. The combination of our discovery of stable charge storage in thin polymers and the need for improved linearity in communications encouraged the development of modern electret microphones in the early 1960's at Bell Labs.

West will also discuss some of the current work on broadband communications at Avaya Labs. Telephone bandwidth and frequency characteristics have remained constant for the past 30 years while entertainment has brought high fidelity including surround sound into most homes throughout the world. People are accustomed to good quality sound and expect it in communication systems. The Internet Protocol (IP) offers the needed bandwidth to improve audio quality for telephony, but this will require broadband microphones and loudspeakers to provide customers with voice presence and clarity. Signal processing has made possible stereo acoustic echo cancellers and many other signal enhancements that improve audio quality.

The AES Technical Council and Board of Governors introduced the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture in May 1999 to honor the memory of Richard Heyser, a former AES Governor and Silver Medal recipient. A scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mr. Heyser was awarded nine patents in audio and communication techniques and was widely known for his ability to clearly present new and complex technical ideas.


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