Meeting Topic: University of Waterloo Audio Research Group: Retrospective
Moderator Name: Earl McCluskie
Speaker Name: Stanley Lipshitz: Professor Emeritus; John Vanderkooy: Distinguished Professor Emeritus; Mark Pocock: Suncoast Audio; Peter Schuck: Paradigm; Perren Baker: Natural Ambience; Paul Bauman: JBL Professional Harman; Ron Kessel: Defense Science and Security Consultant; Ewan Macpherson: National Centre for Audiology, Western U; Jeff Bamford: Engineering Harmonics; Scott Norcross: Dolby Laboratories; Rob Stevens: HGC Engineering; Scott Mallais; Ryan Matheson: Mathalytics
Other business or activities at the meeting:
Blair Francey welcomed everyone to the meeting.
He thanked the members noting their membership makes the meetings possible.
He thanked the sponsors Ryerson, Sonnotechnic, HHB Canada, and Solotech. He thanked the executive for putting the meeting together particularly Earl McCluskie who spearheaded its organization.
Blair turned the proceedings over to Earl.
Meeting Location: Ryerson University RCC 204; Rogers Communications Building; Toronto, ONTARIO
Earl McCluskie began by discussing the impetus for this meeting. The focus was to provide long overdue recognition of the contributions of the University of Waterloo's Audio Research Group.
Prior to the meeting, during the afternoon, the participants were interviewed for a video production. Tonight's meeting was also being recorded as part of that production. This will be the 3rd installment of the ongoing Masters of Audio series.
Earl outlined the meeting's proceedings. He then introduced John Vanderkooy.
John started with the history of the group. He discussed his own, and Stan Lipshitz' background, prior to the formation of the group, as well as their first meeting. He briefly highlighted the topics the attending students were researching.
On dithering: he began "I guess Dr. Dither sits right there! (referring to Stanley Lipshitz). I sort of remember how it started...Stan was worried...a -90 dB sine wave would get clobbered to bits by just having just a few LSB's of variation. And I think I probably said something glib like 'well just add a little noise and everything will average out and it'll be fine' (!)"
After John's talk, Earl played a video which was a tour of the ARG Audiolab, showing the inner workings of the actual lab the group worked in. It included John showcasing various projects, components, and equipment that were built.
One device had the ability to select from 10 to 18 bits during playback as well as input various types of dither noise. Another was an 'exposed' CD player with mechanism and electronics mounted on a large open circuit board. A recent project involves restoring an early 16 channel digital recorder with 16 bit ADC's. He also showed several ABX test boxes with a built in randomizer and level matcher.
After the showing, John mentioned that he thought Earl was going to edit some of the segments out - which brought a round of laughter from the audience!
Earl then introduced the attending alumni who each spoke briefly about their work in the group, and the influence it had on them and their subsequent careers.
They included (in the following order, earliest to latest student) :
Mark Pocock of Suncoast Audio
Peter Schuck of Paradigm
Perren Baker of Natural Ambience
Paul Bauman of JBL Professional Harman
Ron Kessel of Defense Science and Security Consultant
Ewan Macpherson of National Centre for Audiology, Western U
Jeff Bamford of Engineering Harmonics
Scott Norcross of Dolby Laboratories
Rob Stevens of HGC Engineering
Scott Mallais and
Ryan Matheson of Mathalytics
Through their talks definite themes emerged: "you can measure everything"; "you can understand everything"; question results - "don't trust everything at first glance"; "it has to be real, it has to make sense"; and "belief in the ABX box".
Other common points included: camaraderie and awareness of fellow students' projects; a broad range of exposure of what other people were working on; an enthusiastic passion for the subject matter; John and Stan were always "very animated"; and principles learned carried forward into other disciplines in professional life.
Ryan Matheson of Mathalytics mentioned during his talk that when starting with the group, he didn't realize, at first, the far reaching impact Stan and John had on the audio industry, only "that they were really great professors to be studying under".
After these talks there was a short break with refreshments and socializing.
The final part of the meeting had all the alumni seated on the stage along with Stan Lipshitz and John Vanderkooy for reminiscing and story swapping.
One story by John Vanderkooy involved Wolfgang Klippel (not in attendance). He was conducting tests measuring the distortion of JBL compression drivers which were run at "150 db" that had the University's secretaries concerned wondering what was going on in the lab. He said Wolfgang then solved the problem by starting earlier at around 6:30 AM, finishing at 8 AM, and no one was even aware anymore that the tests were still going on!
Near the end of the discussions it was felt that enthusiasm is the key to the Audio Research Group's success. John added the students themselves also had an affect on his and Stan's lives, noting a mutual exchange. It was a "collaborative, relaxed environment...with little to no pressure".
At the meeting's close, Earl thanked the alumni, and John and Stan.
The entire evening went smoothly without any technical hitches. Executive committee member Dan Mombourquette thanked Earl for his vision and drive, as did Jeff Bamford.
Blair presented everyone with certificates of appreciation and coffee mugs. Pictures were taken of everyone on stage.
He thanked everyone and wished all a safe, happy summer.