Chicago AES Section

The Chicago AES Section welcomes members, non-members, and students to its meetings which are typically held at Shure Incorporated and around the Chicagoland area. If you have a meeting idea, please contact us. Meetings are free and there is an optional networking dinner prior to meetings, which has an associated fee.

Our website also contains a list of Past Meeting Reports and an Officer List. To find earlier meeting reports, view our archive of meeting recaps from 1997 to May 2015.

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Past Event: Recognizing and Separating Sounds: Deep Learning in Real-World Audio Signal Processing

February 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Location: Shure Incorporated, 5800 W. Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714

Speaker(s): John Woodruff, Knowles Electronics

Listeners with normal hearing can recognize the source of a sound, localize the point of origin, and separate the information provided by an individual source from competing sound sources. There is a longstanding interest in developing algorithms to achieve these capabilities in commercial products. Performance for some problems, such as automatic speech recognition (ASR), has improved substantially in recent years. Conventional signal processing techniques, however, are still widely deployed for the problem of sound separation in spite of well-known limitations.

Supervised learning algorithms have been central to the advances achieved in ASR, and such algorithms are poised to displace or augment long-standing signal processing methods used for sound separation. Recent literature has shown that new approaches to sound separation enabled by machine learning may lead to transformative differences in user experience. One example is improving speech intelligibility in a noisy environment for a hearing aid user. Many technical challenges remain to be overcome before we see widespread deployment of these methods.

In this discussion we will cover the basic concepts and acoustic cues involved in conventional approaches to sound separation, such as beamforming and speech enhancement. We will also introduce recent supervised learning approaches to sound separation and discuss where these can be used in combination with, or to replace conventional methods.  Finally, we will talk about the challenges in deploying supervised learning methods for sound separation in real-world products.  

About the Presenter:

John Woodruff leads audio processing algorithm development for Knowles’ Intelligent Audio division in Mountain View, CA. He has been with Knowles and Audience since 2012, developing algorithms for detection, localization, classification, separation and enhancement of audio signals, and helping to deploy those algorithms in smart phones, laptops and other consumer devices. Prior to joining Audience, he worked on algorithms for sound separation and localization, pitch tracking, and music remixing in the Perception and Neurodynamics Lab at Ohio State University and the Interactive Audio Lab at Northwestern University. John received a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering from Ohio State University, a M.Music in music technology from Northwestern University, and a B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Michigan.

Other Business: Dinner (optional, but please RSVP) will begin at 6:30pm. Contact Giles Davis ( by Wednesday, February 22nd if you would like to join us. Pizza and salad from Lou Malnati’s will be provided. Please let Giles know if you have a preference for vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. Price is $10 for non-members and $8 for members and students (please bring cash).

Posted: Monday, February 13, 2017

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Past Event: Stereo Mic Technique for Augmented Ambience Gradient

October 20, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Location: Shure Incorporated, 5800 W. Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714

Moderated by: Jamie Tagg

Speaker(s): Assistant Professor of Recording Arts, Indiana University

Born out of a need to overcome the difficulty of listening exclusively on headphones while working on location, as well as the dominance of headphone listening by today's consumers, Jamie has developed a four-microphone configuration called the Stereo Mic Technique for Augmented Ambience Gradient. This technique allows the recordist to make easy adjustments to the amount of direct and reverberant sound from an ideal microphone placement, capturing an improved sense of spatial envelopment when presented over headphones, while still maintaining quality for loudspeaker listening.

Starting with the idea in application, followed by research and development through extensive experimentation and subjective listening tests, this technique has come a long way since its conception in 2010, and is now being used by engineers in several locations across the country in temporary and permanent installations for stereo and surround archiving and broadcast.


A singer, pianist, and saxophonist, D. James Tagg (Jamie) received his bachelor's degree in music from the University of Miami in Music Engineering Technology, a master of music in Sound Recording Technology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and has studied engineering and production with Martha de Francisco at McGill University in Montréal. He has taught audio production at SUNY Oneonta, Syracuse University, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and McGill University. He now lives in Bloomington, IN where he is an Assistant Professor of Recording Arts at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

In addition to the stereo mic technique which is the topic of his presentation (Stereo Technique for Augmented Ambience Gradient), Jamie has developed spatial processing tools through digital signal processing (DSP) for his own use, as well as for THAT Corporation's dBx-TV, used by many major TV manufacturers.

Having recorded three GRAMMY®-nominated albums, received multiple internationally competitive recording awards from the Audio Engineering Society, and having worked across the United States and Canada, Jamie is not only passionate about presenting spatial realism in recordings, but also bringing the heart of the performance to the listener.

Other Business: Dinner (optional, but please RSVP) will begin at 6:30pm. Contact Giles Davis ( by Wednesday, October 19th if you would like to join us. Pizza and salad from Lou Malnati’s will be provided. Please let Giles know if you have a preference for vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. Price is $10 for non-members and $8 for members and students (please bring cash).

View Official Meeting Report

Posted: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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Past Event: Tour of Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories

September 21, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Location: 1512 S. Batavia Avenue, Geneva, IL 60134

Moderated by: Eric Wolfram

Speaker(s): Laboratory Manager, RAL


Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories (RAL) is an internationally respected research facility located in Geneva, Illinois. Constructed in 1918, RAL became the world's first independent laboratory dedicated to the science of architectural acoustics. Riverbank owner, philanthropist Colonel George Fabyan, built the laboratory for its designer, professor Wallace Clement Sabine. The scientific efforts of this renowned Harvard physicist earned him two distinguished titles. Dr. Sabine is acknowledged today as the father of the science of architectural acoustics and the first "modern day" acoustical consultant. The (IP) unit of sound absorption is a Sabin, named in his honor. When the professor died in 1919, his distant cousin, Dr. Paul Earls Sabine became RAL's director. When he retired in 1947, Dr. Paul Sabine turned the operations over to the Armour Research Foundation (known today as Alion Science and Technology).

Today, Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories provides a wide range of acoustical testing services for hundreds of customers worldwide. RAL is accredited by the US Government's National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) as an ISO 17025 lab operation and is an approved participant in Underwriter's Laboratories Third Party Test Data Program.

The majority of RAL tests are for commercial architectural product manufacturers, but RAL also performs research for government agencies and aerospace component designers.  RAL conforms to strict guidelines for instrument traceability, handling of proprietary information (including test results), quality management, and ethics.

Also of interest to our guests is RAL's museum dedicated to the Science of Architectural Acoustics. The Acoustical Society of America officially sanctioned the museum in 1989.

More information about the program can be found at:


Eric Wolfram is the Laboratory Manager for RAL. He leads the lab’s technical and business operations. Prior to joining the RAL team in 2012, Eric served as Lead Acoustical Engineer for Riedel & Associates, an architectural acoustics consulting firm based Milwaukee, WI.  As a consulting engineer, Eric provided guidance for hundreds of architectural acoustics projects across the US.  Eric Wolfram has a Bachelor’s degree in Acoustics from Columbia College Chicago.


This event is limited in space, so please RSVP to .

Other Business: We will not be able to do a group dinner before the meeting as is typical. Instead, we encourage everyone to come to an informal social afterwards at Geneva Ale House (about a mile north in downtown Geneva, look for the large marquee). No reservation is required. Everyone is responsible for their own check. Geneva Ale House 319 West State Street Geneva, IL 60134 630-262-3877

View Official Meeting Report

More Information

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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AES - Audio Engineering Society