Google Honours Robert Moog’s Birthday with Minimoog Synth Emulator

To celebrate and commemorate the 78th birthday of electronic music pioneer and inventor Robert Moog (May 23 2012), Google has created one of its most amazing “doodles” yet: a full-blown, live-playable emulation of a Moog 3-oscillator analog synthesizer, embedded on the Google home page.

Permalink: Google’s Moog Doodle (play it online)

Think this couldn’t possibly be a serious piece of music tech? Check out the downloadable quick-start manual for the Moog Doodle, available from Moog Music’s site (click the image below to get the PDF):

Moog Music offers a downloadable PDF quick start guide for the online Google Doodle Moog

As you can see, this Moog synth emulation provides 3 oscillators, with control over waveform as well as tuning for each oscillator; a full-featured low-pass filter with a simple dedicated envelope; and a sweet pitch-glide control to give you those distinctive 70s swooping effects.

The Moog Doodle is playable on Google’s home page, using your mouse or your computer’s keyboard (the qwerty row is mapped to the “white keys”, and the number row covers the “black keys”). You can even record what you play, using the simulated 4-track reel-to-reel tape deck.

Google's home page featured a working emulation of a Moog synthesizer on May 23 2012.

Waves MiniWoofer Provides Subwoofer Quality Sound at a Fraction of The Size

Waves, the audio technology company known for its professional signal processing software and plugins, is demonstrating revolutionary new technology for the consumer market at CES.

Waves’ MaxxBass technology dramatically shrinks the size of a traditional subwoofer without sacrificing sound quality. At CES, Waves is demonstrating its Home MiniWoofer(TM), which uses MaxxBass processing to deliver rich deep bass response in a 7-inch cube weighing less than six pounds.

Patented Audio Processing Technology Delivers New Applications

The MiniWoofer can also be designed in a variety of forms ranging from a small subwoofer that fits under a car seat or on a door panel, to a three-inch thick flat panel subwoofer that can hang on a wall under a plasma TV. The difference in sound quality that consumers will hear is tremendous, as bass frequencies are what carry most of the emotional impact in music, movies, and games.

The Home MiniWoofer is also an ideal alternative to a complete 5.1 home theater system, where consumers don’t wish to dedicate the space or deal with the complexity of installation or more remote controls. It is simple to connect the Home MiniWoofer with stereo TVs, DVD players, and cable/satellite set-top devices.

“The MiniWoofer enables subwoofer performance levels in a wide range of applications where traditional subwoofers are considered too large, unsightly, or expensive,” said Gilad Keren, President and CEO of Waves. “Imagine if you could get subwoofer quality sound from your car stereo, portable CD player, or home video games without needing a big, heavy subwoofer. The MaxxBass technology that the MiniWoofer is based on makes that possible, and we are now seeing many major consumer electronics manufacturers beginning to embed this technology in their products.”

Leading Consumer Electronics Manufacturers License MaxxBass

Waves MaxxBass technology has already been sold or licensed to a number of leading consumer manufacturers including Altec Lansing, Directed Electronics, Microsoft, Samsung, Sanyo, and Sony. Reducing the size reduces the cost as well since a smaller product requires less power and fewer materials to make. The MiniWoofer consumes 50 percent less power than a traditional subwoofer while providing the same rich, deep bass sound.

Not a Bass Boost Technology

MaxxBass works by extending the lower end of bass frequency response up to one-and-a-half octaves without distortion, delivering deeper, richer, more natural bass. MaxxBass is not a bass boost technology, but instead utilizes a Waves patented psychoacoustic phenomenon called the Missing Fundamental effect, which takes advantage of the way the ear and mind are wired to improve the quality of sound perceived. MaxxBass generates a precise harmonic content so your ear believes it is hearing lower frequency sounds than are physically present.

Generating loud and low bass is the most difficult and costly goal in loudspeaker design. The laws of physics require large speaker enclosures and high power to generate loud and deep bass.

Unlike other technologies, MaxxBass simultaneously allows the system efficiency to be improved, reducing amplifier cost and/or increasing maximum volume levels. The combination of lower material costs, less expensive amplifiers, and reduced shipping is estimated save manufacturers more than 50% on a mass market home theater style subwoofer.

WAVES Web Site

MaxxBass Web Site

Ray Dolby to Receive Lifetime Achievement Emmy Engineering Award

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences will honor Dolby Labs founder Ray Dolby with the Charles F. Jenkins Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2003 Primetime Emmy Engineering Awards on September 13.

The award will be given to Mr. Dolby in recognition of his career achievements, including practical noise reduction systems for improving sound quality in a variety of professional and consumer environments.

The Academy’s Engineering awards are overseen by the Technology and Convergence Awards Committee Co-Chairs Cristy Trembly and Brian Seth Hurst. The Emmy Award is given to an individual, company, or an organization for developments in engineering that are either so extensive an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the transmission, recording, or reception of television.

Dolby Laboratories, founded in 1965 by Ray Dolby to explore noise reduction systems for recording, continues to make strides in improving audio quality. In the television broadcast industry, Dolby® multichannel audio has become a regular enhancement to high-quality programming, allowing viewers to enjoy their favorite content in Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital, and most recently, Dolby Surround Pro Logic II technologies.

Broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, Fox, Discovery HD Theater, HBO, HDNet, Showtime, Starz!, and various pay-per-view channels broadcast in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. In Europe, commercial broadcasters BSkyB, Premiere, ProSieben, and Teleclub also include this popular feature.

Dolby Labs Web Site

Massenburg on Multichannel: Do Great Work, The Audience Will Follow

After enumerating the challenges facing audio professionals working to produce multichannel popular and classical music recordings, as well as pointing out the medium’s modest successes, renowned audio engineer George Massenburg threw down the gauntlet to his Audio Engineering Society (AES) colleagues:

“We all have to do great work, develop the new techniques we need, and produce great demo-quality multichannel recordings,” he encouraged, in his Keynote Address to nearly 200 engineers, mixers and researchers attending the AES International Conference on Multichannel Audio, which began today at The Banff Centre in the Canadian Rocky Mountain resort town of Banff.

“We have to charm artists and listeners to join our dance… keep on trying until it’s too compelling to ignore.”

Mr. Massenburg is uniquely qualified to comment on both the art and science of multichannel. Over his 30-year career, he has been a leading engineer in both the recording studio and in research and manufacturing. In the studio, he has worked on more than 200 albums with front-line artists like Linda Ronstadt, Toto, The Dixie Chicks, Lyle Lovett and Aaron Neville. In the hardware field, he has pioneered technology such as parametric equalization, and heads his own company, George Massenburg Labs, that makes studio gear including mixing and automation systems, mic preamplifiers, equalizers and other audio processors.

He has received Grammy, Academy of Country Music, and TEC awards for production and recording, and a rare Grammy Award for Technical Achievement – one of only four such technical awards given in the history of the Grammys.

“As popular music producers, we’re still struggling to make multichannel as effective for pop as it is already for classical recordings,” Mr. Massenburg says. “We lack some of the important tools we need – reverbs that can create realistic small-room environments; tools for moving sounds around [panning] in surround.”

Mr. Massenburg weighed in on some of the controversial issues that crop up often in discussions of how the multichannel formats have been presented to consumers.

“I’m going to skip right over formats [DVD-Audio vs SACD]. They’re about even, so we need to just go on,” he said.

“But please, let’s make all five speakers (in a home surround system) equal, with the same full range response all around.”

Commenting on the growing reluctance of music labels to invest in state-of-the-art production technology, as well as in multichannel mixes, Mr. Massenburg asked audio professionals to never compromise their standards of audio quality.

“A great example of the difference quality and technology makes is the big Faith Hill hit album last year (Cry, Warner Bros.). Just compare the dirty, noisy stereo mix on CD, to the clean, brilliant-sounding surround mix for DVD-Audio made by Elliot

He also encouraged engineers to make multichannel elements a standard part of the deliverables from their recording projects.

Left to right: Karlheinz Brandenburger (Fraunhofer Institute); Jean-Marie Geijsen (Philips, Pentaton); David Griesinger (Lexicon); Kimio Hamasaki (NHK Japan Broadcasting); George Massenburg (GML); Gunther Theile (Institut für Rundfunktechnik)

Later in the day, George Massenburg took part in a panel discussion on Problems with the Popularization of Surround Formats for Music, with other leading researchers and practitioners of multichannel audio.

Along with Mr. Massenburg, the panelists included David Griesinger (like Massenburg, an equipment designer as well as recordist); recording engineers Jean-Marie Geijsen (Netherlands) and Kimio Hamasaki (Japan); and researchers Karlheinz Brandenburger (“the father of MP3”) and Gunther Theile.

In this forum, the panelists and audience found concensus that 5.1 surround is effective and compelling, a huge step forward from 2-channel stereo, and the right standard to carry on with in bringing multichannel to consumers.

The liveliest discussions centred on…

* the coming shift from discrete 5-channel (plus LFE) playback to a future where super-powerful DSP-enabled home entertainment systems will calibrate themselves to make use of however many speakers of whatever design and configuration are available in the home, creating an idealized output from the discrete source materials available (2-channel, 5.1-channel, or other);

* the importance (or not) of the “sweet spot” in a home playback system, and the ways multichannel audio can create a larger “sweet region” that improves the consumer’s experience of music;

* the advantages of using more than 5 surround speakers, in particular by adding 2 more speakers in the “front” (far left / left / center / right / far right), to improve the stability of the audio image; or by adding 2 additional rear surround speakers, to reduce the problems associated with sitting too close to an individual surround speaker in typical home listening rooms.

The AES 24th International Conference Multichannel Audio: The New Reality continues in Banff through Saturday (June 28, 2003).

Kevin Elliott

AES 24th International Conference: Multichannel Audio

George Massenburg Labs Web Site

Banff Hosts AES International Conference on Multichannel Surround Audio

Banff, the spectacularly scenic resort town in the Canadian Rockies – and incidentally the home of this publication, AudioWorld! – is the place to be this week, for audio professionals working with multichannel sound.

The Banff Centre, and its highly-regarded Music & Sound post-grad program for audio engineers, is hosting the Audio Engineering Society’s 24th International Conference, Multichannel Audio: The New Reality.

A quick run-down of some of the key names and organizations participating in a busy schedule of research topics and practical demonstrations will give you a sense of the calibre of the event: George Massenburg, Tomlinson Holman, David Griesinger, Bob Ludwig, Michael Bishop, Steven Marcussen, Meridian Audio, DTS, Dolby, Lexicon, Fraunhofer IIS/AEMT, NHK, ORF, Swedish Radio and Philips.

The 3-day event runs June 26 – 28, 2003 at The Banff Centre. The program features more than 40 research presentations in the form of papers and posters, as well as all-day seminar, sound demonstration and corporate demo sessions. It all begins on Thursday morning (June 28) with a keynote address by renowned producer and engineer George Massenburg.

As with all Audio Engineering Society conferences, the content is a blend of cutting-edge research – topics that are well outside the radar range of even the most enthusiastic audio enthusiasts; hard-core tech talk, on topics such as acoustic measurement techniques and audio encoding algorithms; and down-to-earth practical tutorials and demonstrations of techniques and technology that audio professionals are using today, to make multichannel recordings for DVD-Audio and SACD releases.

Conference Chair Theresa Leonard says that with nearly 200 audio professionals already signed up to attend the conference, the Banff Centre’s excellent facilities will be stretched for some of the most popular sessions.

On the practical side, some highlights include:

  • Mixing, Mic’ing, Mastering Master Class – with 4 top engineers discussing their creative and technical approaches to multichannel
  • Toward the Popularization of Surround Sound Systems, roundtable discussion on hardware and software engineering, and their relationship with the sales and installation of surround systems for home music listening
  • DTS and Philips demonstrations of recent and up-coming surround music releases
  • Demonstrations of a multichannel modular microphone array for accurate mic placement in surround recording
  • Ambiophonic 2D and 3D Surround Sound demonstrations
  • Several papers and demonstrations focused on microphone placement techniques for 5.1- and 10.2-channel recording
  • Sessions on the use of 5.1 surround audio in radio broadcast and documentary work
  • Continuous surround panning technology for 5-speaker mixes

For the more experimentally oriented, some highlights might be:

  • Wavefield Synthesis – which seems to be the research topic of the year, with two full paper sessions and several sound demonstrations devoted to multi-dimensional, many-speaker arrays that aim to create precise sound localization over a large listening area
  • Hierarchical multichannel sound transmission via Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP) – would you believe 5.1-compatible 16-channel recordings on DVD-Audio discs?
  • Realtime collaborative audio production via high-speed next-generation Internet – using transmission delays to create reverberation effects
  • And the AudioWorld Editor’s current nomination for Best/Most-Obscure Paper Title: Modeling Spatial Sound Occlusion and Diffraction Effects Using the Digital Waveguide Mesh

AudioWorld will be at the Banff AES Multichannel Audio conference to bring you coverage of the highlights.

Multichannel Audio: The New Reality Web Site

Day 1 Report – June 26