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: Noise Reduction: From Capacitors to Convolutional Neural Networks

Nick Engel, Dolby Laboratories

Nick Engel, Dolby Laboratories

August 26, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Location: virtual

Speaker(s): Nick Engel, Dolby Laboratories

Recording of this presentation:

Noise Reduction technology kick-started Dolby Laboratories 55 years ago, and in 2020, continues to be a focus, albeit in completely new contexts and applications. Despite advances in capture technology and the shift in recording mediums, the proliferation of content creators and capture devices has seen an ever increasing need for solutions to reduce noise in audio.

In this presentation, Nick Engel will dive into noise reduction techniques – from analog processing through to today's machine learning approaches. He'll discuss his own experiences as an engineer working on the digital implementation of Dolby B Noise Reduction, through to more recent experiences for helping to reduce noise in audio recordings at scale with This talk will explore how the types of noise and audio capture and recording methods have progressed, as well as approaches for reducing noise, from analog, to digital signal processing and through to the state of the art of deep learning techniques.


Nick Engel is the Senior Director, Media API R&D for the Media Processing platform. Nick is a graduate of the Australian National University where he studied Engineering (Interdisciplinary Systems) and Information Technology (Software Engineering). Nick grew up playing guitar and his passion for music and technology led him to join Lake Technology in 2003 as an Audio Signal Processing engineer developing audio enhancement technology for consumer devices. Nick joined Dolby Laboratories in 2004 and has held various positions in the Advanced Technology Group and Consumer Entertainment Group leading engineering teams in Sydney, San Francisco, Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen developing technology to bring immersive and enhanced audio experiences to a wide range of consumer devices in the home and on the go. Nick holds several patents and played a key role in launching new initiatives and developing many of Dolby's core audio technologies. Nick recently relocated to San Francisco to lead the R&D team for - a developer API platform for enabling media processing and analysis at scale.



We will be hosting this meeting using BlueJeans, as opposed to Zoom (which we have used for the last couple meetings). One advantage of BlueJeans is that we will be experiencing spatialized Dolby Voice processing. We are still limited to 100 people attending the meeting. We plan to have a recording of the meeting available afterwards on the section's YouTube channel, however. Please be sure that BlueJeans is installed on your preferred device prior to the meeting time (app store for iOS/Android, or the meeting link should open a web app on Mac or PC). You can either use the audio on your device, or call in for the audio with your phone (see instructions at the bottom of this message). There is also a test link at the bottom to check your setup.

Most participants will have audio and video muted during the meeting. The moderator will un-mute participants in turn to ask a question during the Q&A period. This will be explained again at the beginning of the meeting.

Other Business: Officer nominations for the 2020-2021 season

View Official Meeting Report

Posted: Friday, August 21, 2020

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Past Event: For Better or For Worse: Drugs That Can Help or Harm Your Hearing (Virtual Meeting)

Dr. Colleen Le Prell

Dr. Colleen Le Prell

June 9, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Location: Zoom Meeting (see description for details)

Speaker(s): Dr. Colleen Le Prell, University of Texas at Dallas


Recording of this presentation:

There are hundreds of drugs that have the potential to induce unwanted auditory side effects including not only tinnitus and hearing loss, but also dizziness and other balance disorders. Two of the drugs best known for inducing hearing loss and tinnitus are the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin and various members of the aminoglycoside antibiotics family which are used to treat major life-threatening infections. Although the hearing loss induced by these “ototoxic” drugs compromises quality of life, the life-saving benefits of the drugs outweigh the unwanted side effects. In an effort to reduce hearing loss caused not only by these ototoxic drugs but also the hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sound, laboratories around the world have engaged in sustained research activities targeting the development of new “otoprotective” drug agents that ameliorate the harmful effects of noise, cisplatin, and the aminoglycoside antibiotics. In this talk, I will provide a brief overview of how noise, cisplatin, and aminoglycoside antibiotics induce cell death in the inner ear, and how investigational drug agents have protected the inner ear against cell death and hearing loss, preserving auditory function not only in pre-clinical lab studies completed in rodent models but also in early stage clinical trials. Although there are not yet any drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for prevention of hearing loss, multiple promising agents are progressing through the clinical testing process and there is hope that new drug solutions might one day provide a new tool within the hearing loss prevention toolbox.


Dr. Colleen Le Prell is the Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, and head of the UTD Communication Sciences and Disorders area, which includes programs in Speech, Language, and Hearing. She has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, several foundations, and industry. Translational research in her laboratory is directed at prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.  She has published more than 65 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and is an Associate Editor for both the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America and the International Journal of Audiology. She contributed 19 book chapters to various texts, and she has edited 3 books.  She is a Past-President of the National Hearing Conservation Association, a current member of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) Hearing Loss Prevention Cross Sector Council, and she has contributed to the World Health Organization “Make Listening Safe” annual consultation annually since 2017.



View Official Meeting Report

Posted: Tuesday, May 26, 2020

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Past Event: Adding Active Noise Control to Wireless Headsets (Virtual Meeting)

Tom Miller, Sr. Principal Engineer, Knowles Electronics

Tom Miller, Sr. Principal Engineer, Knowles Electronics

April 16, 2020 at 7:30 pm

Location: Zoom Meeting (Virtual; See description for details)

Speaker(s): Tom Miller, Senior Principal Engineer, Knowles Electronics


Note that this meeting will be limited to 100 participants.

POST-MEETING UPDATE: A recording of the presentation is now available at



As you may have noticed, this month's meeting is a bit of a departure from our normal mode of operation. Even though Governor Pritzker has extended the “stay-at-home” order for Illinois until April 30, the Chicago AES Section is indomitable, and will continue our meetings online! 

We will be hosting this meeting using Zoom. The one drawback we are facing is that participation is limited to 100 people. We plan to have a recording of the meeting available online afterwards, however. Please be sure that Zoom is installed on your preferred device prior to the meeting time (app store for iOS/Android, or the meeting link should prompt you to install the app on Mac or PC). You can either use the audio on your device, or call in for the audio with 
these instructions

The meeting will be introduced and moderated by Andrew Bellavia (Director of Market Development, Knowles Electronics). Most participants will have audio and video muted during the meeting. The moderator will un-mute participants in turn to ask a question during the Q&A period. This will be explained again at the beginning of the meeting.


Many companies wish to add Active Noise Control (ANC) to their wireless music headsets. ANC makes wearing insert earphones more pleasant, and makes the music easier to hear clearly. Unfortunately, most publications on noise cancelling lack practical information needed to make many key design decisions, and the experts are quite reluctant to share their methods. This presentation will help fill some of those gaps, covering many of the factors needed to provide good noise reduction in small headsets. It will cover the basics of ANC operation, then go onto discuss design factors such as headset acoustics and venting, filter design, and transducer selection. Tom will discuss how to keep an ANC system stable across a variety of wearers, dispelling some myths about latency and stability. He will show how to make good use of balanced armature devices in ANC systems, including how to add a tweeter without disrupting stability. The discussion will conclude with a brief description of transparent pass-through operation and some more advanced ANC techniques that adapt the headset to users and certain use cases.


Tom Miller is a Senior Principal Engineer at Knowles Electronics, and has been there for nearly a quarter century. Over those years he has helped to create many of Knowles’ balanced armature receiver designs and has been granted over a dozen patents. More recently he has been studying how Knowles microphones and receivers affect system level issues, such as the control of wind noise pickup and active noise cancellation. Tom is a former Regional Vice President of the AES, and has held every local office except treasurer. Back in a previous century Tom obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Upon graduation, he worked for a dozen years as chief technical engineer of Universal Recording, a major Chicago recording studio in its day. After that, he spent a few years working on signal processing for loudspeakers at International Jensen before moving on to Knowles. In his spare time he creates electronic music under the name Shadreaux, having released several albums on Bandcamp (but selling almost none).



Other Business: From AES HQ: AES Helps "Socially Distancing" Members Worldwide Listen, Learn, and Connect with Discounted Membership Rate Extended Through April 30. To help audio professionals stay connected as the world enters a period of isolation, the Audio Engineering Society is offering 3-month membership for $25, or a 3-month bonus at the standard yearly rate, through April 30, for both new and renewing members. Enrolled audio students receive an even bigger discount with AES Student Memberships starting at just $10 – find out more here.

View Official Meeting Report

More Information

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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