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Meeting Recap - December 6, 2012

AES Chicago Section Meeting Notice

TOPIC: Perceptual Implications of Data Compressed Audio

PRESENTER: Dr. Pantelis N. Vassilakis

DATE: Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TIME: 7:30pm; dinner (optional) at 6:30pm

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

The dual objective of audio data compression algorithms is to reduce the digital file size of audio content for more efficient storage and distribution without audibly altering its quality, as perceived by listeners. The mathematical and psycho-acoustical bases of the relevant algorithms guarantee that, save for simple audio programming (i.e. with narrow bandwidth, dynamic range, and spatial spread and with limited/coarse time variance), audio data compression resulting in 128, 192, and even 256kb/sec data rates will audibly alter the signal in question and irreversibly remove physical aspects usually associated with perceived naturalness and complexity. Exclusive exposure to data compressed audio may deprive listeners from opportunities to be exposed to and therefore stay "trained" in their ability to decipher sonic micro variations that are essential not only to a rich musical experience but to communication in general. Several ways to address this potential problem will be addressed, leading to a discussion of if/how sound signal micro-variation considerations may inform sound recording/mixing decisions.


Pantelis N. Vassilakis earned a Post Doctoral Certificate in Auditory Science (2003) from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), Ph.D (2001) and M.A. (1997) degrees in Ethnomusicology, specializing in music cognition, acoustics, and aesthetics, also from UCLA, and a B.A. degree in Music Composition and Technology (1993) from Kingston University, Surrey, England. He has also completed course studies in Electrical Engineering at the National Polytechnic of Athens, Greece.

Dr. Vassilakis has composed for the English National Ballet and the London Chinese Orchestra, has sound designed for BBC Radio 3, the London Greek Radio, and the Greek Theater Company in London UK, is routinely hired to digitally restore and master commercial and educational recordings, and has extensive experience as a live and studio musician, sound engineer, and producer.

Since 1997, he has been presenting at US national and international conferences, often as an invited speaker, publishing several abstracts, articles, and book chapters and serving as reviewer for publications that include the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, the Journal of Comparative Physiology, the Computer Music Journal, and Oxford University Press. His work has been cited by over seventy research studies and his recently published signal analysis and processing tool is being utilized in research labs around the world. Pantelis is currently the Chairman of the Audio Arts + Acoustics Department, Columbia College Chicago.