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Perspectives On Audio: Information vs Data; Fidelity vs Resolution

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Audio bridges science and engineering with the complexity of the human listener. If we are to close that gap, we need to ask the right questions. This talk begins with a tutorial overview of topics in modern auditory science that are pertinent to fidelity and resolution. It also sketches information flow in the listener giving some surprising estimates. Next, a quick tour through sound reproduction, starting with analogue, shows how a ‘narrow’ approach to digital audio inadvertently embedded key errors in recordings and playback systems. This is briefly illustrated with seven theories of ‘High-Resolution’ and consideration of the paradoxes of losslessness and data vs information flow. If we consider the whole chain from microphone to loudspeaker, and more precisely define objectives for transparency using principles of communication theory, modern sampling theory and current auditory science, we show that a better engineering solution is indeed possible.

Our speaker will be J. Robert (Bob) Stuart who studied electronic engineering and acoustics at the University of Birmingham and took an M.Sc. in operations research at Imperial College, London. While at Birmingham he studied psychoacoustics under Professor Jack Allison, which began a lifelong fascination with the subject. In 1977 Bob co-founded Meridian Audio and served as CTO until early 2015. In 2014 he founded MQA Ltd where he is currently full time as Chairman and CTO . At the request of Hiro Negishi and Raymond Cooke, Bob chaired the advocacy group Acoustic Renaissance for Audio between 1994 and 2002. In the 1990s he worked with Michael Gerzon and Peter Craven on lossless compression and was instrumental in its adoption for optical discs.

Bob has contributed to the DVD -Audio and Blu-ray standards and has served on the technical committees of the National Sound Archive, JAS and the ADA (Japan). In 2020 the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded him the Prince Philip Medal for his exceptional contribution to audio engineering. Bob’s professional interests are the furthering of analogue and digital audio and developing understanding of human auditory perception mechanisms relevant to live and recorded music. His specialities include the auditory sciences and the design of analogue and digital electronics, loudspeakers, audio coding and signal processing.

Bob joined the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in 1971, has been a Fellow since 1992, and is a member of ASA , IEEE and the Hearing Group at Cambridge. Bob has a deep interest in music and spends a good deal of time listening to live and recorded material.

This online lecture is jointly organised by the AES UK Section Cambridge Group and IET Cambridge Local Network. It is open to all, but registration is required via the Zoom link A link to the Zoom session will be sent to registered participants prior to the talk.

This talk is part of the IET series.

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