2014 Workgroup Topic Proposals

The Chorus of Bats: “Do we REALLY want to support High-Resolution Audio?”

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The Problem:

Regardless of where you stand on the “Is High-Resolution Audio Worth It” debate, the marketing departments have already opened the barn door and the cows are out.  In the corporate world’s never-ending quest for brand differentiation, market relevance, and lavish CEO compensation packages, “High Resolution Audio” is already being sold as the “Next Big Thing” in audio.   As the owners of audio for the next five years, do we:

1:  Ignore it:  “That’s Snake Oil and we don’t want any part of it!”

2:  Sell it:  “We’ve got the BEST Snake Oil, and we’re gonna milk this to stay employed for a few more years!”

3:  Build it:  “We love it, you really want it, and we’re gonna do it right, even if that means ultrasonic  tweeters in your headphone cans!”

I see that the 2011 “Galileo” group might be real big on topic 1, where we discuss whether or not High-Resolution Audio really does bring audio happiness.  I think we’ll need some Screaming Monkeys when we get to topic 2, because we need to know if the new Monkey Bus can support High-Res.  Finally, for #3, I think we need some support of the Doppler Chickens.  As engineers, let’s do it right.  I know mics can go ultrasonic, but what about speakers?  How do we engineer speakers, microspeakers, and headphone receivers that can cleanly go up to 40kHz?  What about low-power portable audio amplifiers with no intermodulation distortion up there?  What about headphones (both circumaural and in-ear) design considerations?  What kinds of transducers are we looking at?  How about test systems and standards?  I don’t think the type 3.3 ears go that high.  Where do we go from here?