AES Section Meeting Reports

Boston - April 11, 2012

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This week Professional Product Specialist Paul Stewart from Genelec came in to speak with us about studio monitoring and the importance of room correction. He started by discussing some of the more common problems of standing waves, frequency response, and frequency specific reverb decay in listening environments. (He also gave away several slick measuring tapes that had 1/4 wavelengths on the back side...very useful!!) While a great monitor speaker can help, quality monitoring starts with good room acoustics and an even decay of reflections. He then took us through the design goals of their new 8000 series two-way loudspeaker systems. These speakers incorporate a directivity control waveguide that helps even the off-axis response of the tweeter, allowing for improved stereo imaging. While comb filtering between two sources can't be avoided, the typical directional beaming and lobing characteristics of tewters can be corrected, and much of this comes from reflection and refraction around a flat-fronted cabinet. These speakers also make use of a molded aluminum housing that allows the entire cabinet to act as a heat-sink, eliminating the need for amplifier fans or radiation fins on the back.

Paul then discussed the new DSP room correction system and how it compares (or doesn't) to some of the competing products. This completely digital system is controlled via ethernet between the controller in the subwoffer and the satellite speakers. Signal is carried via AES3, and the DSP allows for an adaptive filter network that evens the response for every speakers, as well as aligns the phase and timing.

The whole group then squeezed into our small 5.1 mixing/mastering room for a real-time demo of how to set up and calibrate a room. The before and after made a significant difference in sound quality, as well as stereo imaging, and the Genelec software shows the frequency response curves both before and after correction, as well as the curve as it changes while working through it's adaptive process. Instruments were better defined, reverb had more depth of field, and the bass was much more even. We also spent some additional time discussing the acoustics of the room and what additional changes could be made to improve the sound quality.

At the end of the session we spent some time talking with Paul about his career, how he got his start, and recommendations for students looking to get into acoustical and electrical engineering, as well as the sales and tech support side of the industry.

Many thanks to Paul for making the trip out to speak with us after a previous week's cancellation due to heavy snowfall! Paul was extremely high-energy, knowledgeable, and great at fielding all of our technical questions and we hope to have him back in the future!

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AES - Audio Engineering Society