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Positive Feedback ISSUE 35
january/february 2008


Dorsey's AES 2007 Show Awards
by Scott Dorsey


Best New Product: ATR Magnetics tape

Yes, after three years of talking about it, ATR Magnetics is actually shipping analogue audio mastering tape for the first time, making them the second company manufacturing tape for the high end professional market.

Best Old Product: The ITI Equalizer

After several years of legal wrangling and hermitlike disappearance, Burgess Macneal appears to be alive and well and actually manufacturing Sontec products again under his older corporate name, ITI.

He even has a website at now. [This website does not appear to be online at this time. – Editor]

Best Shipping Incident: The Coffin

After Blue Microphones' booth was mistakenly shipped to Las Vegas, valiant efforts on the part of the shipping company managed to cause most of it to arrive at two in the morning, when it was brought onto the show floor. Funny thing, though, a large white coffin was also delivered along with the booth materials. The good news is that the Teamsters did have the good sense to call Skipper Wise at Blue to make sure that the coffin was not part of their display. The bad news is that it wasn't part of their display and actually had a corpse in it. Skipper was quoted as saying 'People are dying to use our microphones.'

“It's About Time” Award

Millennia Media is making a remotely controlled preamp, and unlike some previous attempts at building such products, this one sounds good, and you can get it in the US. The HV-3R is a standard HV-3 preamp, just with remote gain controls.

Worst New Fad: Automatic room equalization

Press a button, the machine makes a measurement and equalizes everything. There's only one problem: it doesn't work because you can't fix impulse response issues with equalization. At best you can kind of hide some of them, but the computer doesn't know which ones or how. The sheer number of vendors selling systems this year was alarming.

Best Sound in Show: Francis Manzella's Griffin loudspeakers

Clean. Narrow sweet spot, but that's a good thing in a lot of control rooms. Yes, I know they won the “Best Sound in Show” award in 2001, but really, they were the best sound again.

Worst Sound in Show

A-Volute attempted to display a magic system that provided four-channel sound from only two speakers. Using a pair of RCA-branded boom box speakers, it was clear that there was something going on when they turned their system on, but it only turned bad audio into different bad audio.

Loudest Sound in Show: Gibson Guitars

No additional explanation should be required, but earplugs were inadequate, even fifty feet away.

Worst Demo

I took my demo CD over to the Mackie booth to see if I could listen to their new monitor series. I was informed that the computer they were using for the demo didn't have a CD drive on it, but that I could bring over some mp3 files on a thumb drive. I declined to do so.

Second Worst Demo

Horch Microphones showed a variable-pattern microphone. Problem is, no matter how the control was set, it was a cardioid. I tried to point out to the fellow showing the mike that there was no rear lobe at all when it was in figure-8 mode, but he insisted I must be doing something wrong, so I went somewhere else.

Best Paper in Show

The Flexible Bass Absorber by Neils Adelman-Larson, Eric Thompson, and Anders Gade. This is an inflatable rubber bladder than can be unrolled from the side walls of a concert hall in varying degrees, in order to adjust the low end reverberation time in the room in a controlled manner. This permits the same hall to used effectively for classical and other acoustic performances, as well as for rock concerts. Preprint 7190.

Best Paper in Show Runner-Up

Measurements and Perception of Nonlinear Distortion – Comparing Numbers and Sound Quality by Alex Voishvillo. No new research here, but a great overview of existing research on audibility of distortion both harmonic and non-harmonic. There is a discussion of the relative audibility of various order harmonic products and of masking effects. Really a nice overview to why THD and IMD aren't sufficient to characterize a system. Preprint 7174.

Worst Paper in Show

A Highly Directive 2-Capsule Based Microphone System by Christof Faller. The author begins making the assumption that the response of a cardioid microphone is accurate off-axis, and goes on from there. He constructs a second-order microphone system using two opposing cardioid capsules and frequency-dependant delay, but he doesn't do any error analysis, and does hardly any testing (save a rough test on voice) of the completed device. If you describe a system but don't test it, how can you know if you were right in the first place? Preprint 7313.

Most Blatant Advertising Disguised as Research

Pump Up the Volume: Enhancing Music Phone Audio Quality and Power using Supercapacitors for Power Management, by Pierre Mars of Cap-XX, a company that just happens to make high density 'supercapacitors'. Preprint 7206. Nice fellow, nice product, but a bad way to show it.

Best Free Stuff

Everybody hands out free earplugs, but the House Ear Institute was handing out a few pairs of Etymotic Research musician's earplugs, with comparatively flat response and 15 dB of attenuation. Absolutely wonderful at any price; you can hear a rock concert clearly without going deaf.