2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

It all sounds CRAP!

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Sitting listening to the Orchestra in a Concert Hall it struck me how different the experience, and even the sound, was compared to listening to recordings of the same music on my “high quality” headphones.

Our microphones, ADCs, mixers, effects, file formats, DACs and drivers measure better than ever but we are still nowhere close to recreating the concert experience with headphones. Even the lowly triangle sounds better in real life than it does through headphones!

Fellow Bar-B-Qers I suggest we try and

We might want to consider new recording techniques, more DSP algorithms, 100 channel headphones, haptic suits, spatial audio, virtual reality. Let your imagination run wild, dream big, have fun!

2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

MID.LY (Music Industry Data)

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The MIDI standard went from bright idea to being embraced by Roland, Yamaha, Korg, Kawai, and Sequential Circuits to shipping in product in a span of only 18 months. Notwithstanding currently views limitations of MIDI, that’s a remarkable time frame considering how enduring the standard has been.

My proposal is that we come together again as an industry to create a new standard. But, this time around we create a standard for data.

Advances in machine learning are allowing breakthrough new approaches to solving previously hard- or impossible-to-solve audio problems. We can identify and label objects within an audio stream. We can unmix a mixture. We can blindly segment a recording based on musical or other events. We can interpolate between acoustic and timbral spaces.

Where machine learning differs from the traditional science in music technology is that we need – in addition to tech, know-how and creativity – large amounts of well-labelled and structured training data.

Those of us pursuing this work are having to do this ourselves, likely duplicating work to create proprietary sets. The academic community provides some stuff, but it’s not enough.

In the biotech world, The Broad Institute was founded to support exactly this kind of collaborative partnership. Companies pool their data, collectively gain access, do work … and have been able to create major breakthroughs in genomics and biomedical research. Some companies in that space are going public without a business model or even a product … simply because of the tech they have created via access to this communal data set.

So, what if we joined forces in our corner of the world?

2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Ultrasonic Communication for the Voice Interface and IoT World

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Can an ultrasonic communication provide helpful connectivity to Voice Interface and IoT devices, without facilitating intrusive data mining?

Ultrasonic communication, and in particular, near-ultrasonic communication has for the most part been an untapped resource in the voice interface and IoT worlds. It has been described by Wired as the “wild west of wireless tech”, in an article which explores the possible privacy and security risks with the technology:


There are many reasons why it is appealing as a protocol:

  • Alternative communication method to WiFi or BLE, where they are either not optimal on unavailable
  • Voice Interface devices already have necessary hardware (a microphone and a speaker)
  • Allows cross platform sharing of information
  • Proximity verification of a user

There are also reasons why it is concerning as a protocol:

  • Unauthorized tracking of individuals movements or habits
  • Ultrasonic attacks
  • Spamming the audio spectrum
  • Considerations beyond humans – dogs, other ultrasonic sensitive animals

Some companies such as Google, have their own internal protocol like Google Nearby which has a fully secured end to end solution which works in conjunction with WiFi and BLE. Other companies like Chirp provide secure encryption protocols to allow ultrasonic data exchange to operate independently.

From an acoustics point of view, is it possible to implement sufficient protocols in an ultrasonic transmission standard so it is used for useful connectivity?

  • Standard transmission levels so devices have to be within a certain range?
  • Individual transmission bursts rather than constant beacons?
  • Use of constantly varied frequencies to avoid potential interference?
2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

SETI for Audio

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Untold millions of Internet-connected devices are slacking off when they could be working together to solve Big Audio Problems. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program harnessed unused cycles on thousands of computers to hunt for aliens. What kinds of audio problems could we solve by networking millions of underused devices? What new sonic experiences could we create?

Now imagine extending the processing pool to mobile devices with microphones and location sensors. What are the opportunities for Massively Multiplayer Music? What incentives would inspire people to share access to their processors and I/O?

—David Battino

ET Key
Pull my finger
2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Jack is dead. Long live Jack. No he’s dead Jim.

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We called for the end of the analog headphone jack on consumer electronics; we even performed an exorcism. We were wrong…or were we?


“Bring back the headphone jack: Why USB-C audio still doesn’t work”



I suggest the BBQ brain was correct in calling for the end of the analog jack, but we failed to offer a compelling replacement. Previous brains showed the limitations of wireless transport for audio, and we still want a good wired experience for low cost, highest performance, and ultimate DiY hackability. (don’t we?)


Let’s show the industry what’s needed for a good wired digital headset experience:

  • Capitalize on power: now there’s power available in the headset, what awesome features will make wired digital headsets worthwhile?
  • But be frugal: wired headsets are DOA if they drain the host’s battery like a 5G modem…
  • 5G is coming: charge while you get your groove on.
  • Capitalize on digital interface: lower latency and higher bandwidth than wireless, what awesome features will make wired digital headsets worthwhile?
  • Low cost to high-feature spectrum or: how I learned to stop worrying and spec decent headsets for developing markets and cheap Americans


2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Identify problems in audio for VR and AR/MR headsets and suggest solutions

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Audio is the body’s only 360 degree sense that can be used to help cue someone to turn around without touching them almost precisely in that direction.

VR and AR/MR provide immersive video experience, but the audio needs to be created and combined with this video providing a similar immersive experience at an affordable cost.

The purpose of this topic is to discuss and identify the challenges for audio in these various types of “reality” (VR, AR, MR,) and the solutions thereof.

One may have multiple challenges while creating content for these headsets. Some of these have to be probably taken care of during content creation such as scene based, etc., but some will have to be done in the headsets such as distance rendering or factoring in room impulse response, etc.

Once these problems are identified, the next challenge will be to identify the best possible format for the content to be stored, communicated and played, object or ambisonics

Subbu alias Hondo

2018 Workgroup Topic Proposals

Industrial design – Consumer trends – What will drive the next generation of audio consumer?

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In a world where kids seem excited to realize that dropping their phone into a pint glass ‘improves the sound quality’ it is a terrifying realization that we have an entire generation of audio consumers that have never enjoyed the impact and dynamics of real HiFi.  The last ten years or so has started to bring audio out of the smartphone malaise, but what innovations will help to create a new generation of audio lovers?

‘big sound technologies’

  • Compression
  • Equalization
  • psycho acoustic harmonic overlay
  • wide range transducers

What technology do we need to make the next generation of killer audio products?

Will I-V sense amps and closed loop amplification give us the ability to extract substantially more performance from traditional transducers (not just micro speakers)?

Can we further leverage advanced DSP platforms and multi-channel arrays to improve sound quality and deliver true dynamics within the constraints of the current industrial design trends?

Will distributed/mesh audio  solutions proliferate into the mainstream?

What problems do we need to solve to allow small form factor audio solutions to deliver more impact and larger sound fields?  Are we really at the limit of the laws of physics?