AES Section Meeting Reports

Portland - January 19, 2010

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After a decade of inactivity, the Portland AES gathered to revive the section. Officers were elected by a show of hands* after a brief introduction by Western USA/Canada AES Vice President and Director of Acoustical Research at Harman International, Dr. Sean Olive.

Following the election, Olive gave a talk summarizing years of research establishing correlations between listening test results and measured acoustical properties of loudspeakers and room interactions:

"Listening tests play an important role in the research, development and testing of consumer, professional and automotive loudspeaker products at Harman International. A scientific listening test method provides sensitive, reliable and valid perceptual judgments of loudspeaker sound quality that can be largely explained and predicted by acoustical measurements of the loudspeaker and its interaction with the room acoustics. An overview of the listening test methods, tools and facilities used at Harman International will be given using examples from recent tests on loudspeakers and room correction products. The author will demonstrate Harman's "How to Listen" software used for training and selecting Harman's listeners."

Olive's longtime colleague at Harman and former scientist for the National Research Council of Canada, Dr. Floyd Toole, spoke as well. Toole requested a number of upgrades to the audio industry, including better standards for specifying loudspeaker performance, and the proliferation of multichannel playback to the music recording industry:

"The audio industry is based on sound reproduction — a recreation that strongly resembles an original performance, whether it is a live performance or an artistic creation in a mixing/mastering room. Yet, for over 100 years, starting with Edison, it has been obvious that the recreations that consumers have been hearing have been not only different from the originals, but different from each other. Some of the variability can be traced to a lack of consistency in the creative process (e.g. non-standardized, even idiosyncratic, monitor loudspeakers and control rooms) and some to huge variability in playback ...
... A logical starting point is to define a listening situation that shows continuity in the essential perceptual dimensions from the point at which the art is created (music and movie monitoring) to playback in homes and cars."

More information, and future meeting updates will be available at

*Slate of candidates:

Bruce Hofer — Chairman
Vice Chair — Thomas Marshall
Jose Porchat — Treasurer
Reid McCargar — Secretary
Chuping Liu, Michael Jones, David Etlinger, and Gabe Liberti — Committee

More About Portland Section

AES - Audio Engineering Society