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

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