AES Section Meeting Reports

Boston - November 14, 2008

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Boston AES October Meeting
with Bob Chidlaw

On Tuesday, October 14, 2008 the Boston Section of the Audio Engineering Society welcomed guest speaker Bob Chidlaw from Source Audio, LLC. He began his presentation with brief timeline of effects processors and outlined Source Audio's development of new products. He followed with a quick introductory demonstration of the Accelerometer before he explained it in further detail. He stressed the importance of practicing with the effects just as a violin player becomes familiar with the nuances of that instrument before becoming proficient.
Bob described how acceleration can come from either gravity or motion and showed how the Accelerometer reacts to both. Since the axis of the hand motion is important, the Accelerometer needs to be calibrated to the zero position upon startup. The sensitivity of the Accelerometer adjusts the response of the movement to trigger the effect and can be smoothed out to avoid being too jittery.
He gave a brief development background of the product since its initial release at the Winter 2006 NAMM show and mentioned how the wireless version evolved due the problematic tangling of wired products. The Accelerometer has a range of 100' (30 meters), and a one-hour charge of the battery can last for up to 8 hours. The player wears a ring called the "Hot Hand Receiver", and the movement of the ring is what triggers the effect.
Bob explained the circuit path of three products in the Sound Blox Series: the Tri-Mod Wah, the Tri-Mod Flanger and the Multiwave Distortion. Although the Tri-Mod Wah follows the same concepts of a standard Wah pedal, using hand movements to trigger the wah effect creates a much different outcome than using your foot to control the effect.
He continued by explaining the circuit path of the Tri-Mod Flanger, giving an example of how a player can use two receivers simultaneously to control independently parameters by using a Hot-hand ring as well as another controller built into a headband and controlled by head movement. The Multiwave Distortion creates a more unique sound than most distortion processors since it separates the frequency spectrum into bands and distorts independently resulting in a "cleaner" distortion effect. He noted that Source Audio also makes a MIDI Exp Controller, which can use the Hot Hand Receiver to control almost any MIDI parameter.
Bob also reflected on marketing products in the industry, claiming that it is essential to obtain high profile artists to use your products on stage and talk about them in interviews.
In conclusion, Bob gave members a chance for some hands-on time with the products. He shared that Source Audio was developing a Multiwave Distortion optimized for bass guitar and would probably release a Chorus pedal at some point in the future.
Bob Chidlaw received a physics degree from MIT and spent ten years performing image processing at Eikonix Corp. From there, he moved to Kurzweil Music Systems to work on digital music synthesizers where he architected a number of DSP chips. He is currently the Chief Scientist of Source Audio, LLC, located in Woburn MA.

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