AES Section Meeting Reports

Boston - September 9, 2008

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AES Boston September Event
with Dr. Floyd E. Toole

On Tuesday, September 9, 2008 the Boston Section of the Audio Engineering Society welcomed guest speaker Dr. Floyd E. Toole. Mr. Toole retired from Harmon Industries International in 2007 after holding a number of positions in the company, most recently as Corporate Vice President of Acoustical Engineering and as Senior Vice President of Acoustical Engineering for the JBL and Infinity brands.

Toole's lecture, entitled "Upgrading the Audio Industry," focused on the pros and cons of today's loudspeaker systems and the way we experience them. Similar to the frequent PC software upgrades, Dr. Toole believes that we should also update the processes used to reproduce and listen to music. Dr. Toole first presented a brief overview of the sound reproduction chain. His comprehensive work considers the whole sound reproduction chain from multi channel audio configurations and the loudspeaker/room system to acoustics and psychoacoustics and the evaluation process.

Dr. Toole stressed the need for accurate and consistent industry measurements and that unless the loudspeakers involved in the creation of the recordings and the reproduction is the same, the "art" is not preserved. He explained the importance of the industry to move to multi-channel for all recordings since stereo can never truly reflect the listening experience of the original environment in which it was recorded. He then compared frequency responses of a wide range of monitors to show how price is not an accurate factor in the quality of the product. Showing the off-axis measurements of monitors revealed how much the position of the monitor dramatically affects its frequency response.

In an attempt to get the perspective of the average consumer listening environment, Dr. Toole referred to the common practice of using inferior monitors systems in the mixing stage of a project. He believes that this procedure is no longer relevant, if ever, due to the elevated quality of the listening experiences in home and car environments. He gave numerous examples of how to design the best possible listening experience for recording control rooms and home entertainment systems. The slight variances in speaker and seating configurations revealed how much the listening "sweet spot" can be increased for a more uniform listening experience.

Dr. Toole concluded by addressing a major topic in the control room and home entertainment systems in recent years, how to deliver good bass in small rooms. He gave examples of how improper positioning of sub-woofers within a space can have a negative impact on the low-end response. He showed techniques to properly manage the bass in order to achieve the most effective and equal disbursement of low frequencies within a space.

Floyd Toole has just published the book Sound Reproduction: Loudspeakers and Rooms (Focal Press, 2008) and has received the CEDIA Lifetime Achievement Award in September of 2008. The Boston AES was honored to host Dr. Toole as their guest speaker at their September 2008 event.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society