Memorial Lecture at 130th: Karlheinz Brandenburg / How to Provide High Quality Audio Everywhere

Heyser Memorial Lecture
AES 130th Convention
Novotel London West, London, UK

Saturday, May 14, 2011, 19:00 — 20:00

By Karlheinz Brandenburg


Once upon a time there was the challenge to transmit high quality audio over phone lines. While this seemed impossible, ideas from psychoacoustics and signal processing—work by many researchers—helped the seemingly impossible to become reality: mp3 and other audio codecs enabled seamless transport of audio over thin lines. However, the mp3 story did not end there. The Internet was changing shape, transforming from a text-based medium into a major carrier for sound of all kinds, including music. This meant changes not only for the payload (from text to audio), but also meant new dangers for the audio quality delivered to music lovers, and it changed business models for music sales dramatically, shaking up the music industry.

Today the challenges are different: we have a multitude of (legal) sources of music, and many of us have access to Terabytes of music. How do we find our way through this abundance of available content, how do we find the gems in the millions of medium quality music? Even then, audio reproduction still is far from perfect, so how can we really fulfill the dream of complete auditory illusion, and what are the problems even today? The talk will introduce some current work on both MIR (Music Information Retrieval), on audio reproduction and the psychoacoustic research needed to get further along towards the dream of perfectly reconstructed sound.


Karlheinz Brandenburg has been a driving force behind some of today’s most innovative digital audio technology, notably the MP3 and MPEG audio standards. The research results of his dissertation are the basis of MPEG-1 Layer 3 (MP3), MPEG-2 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), and most other modern audio compression schemes. He is acclaimed for pioneering work in digital audio coding, perceptual measurement techniques, Wave Field Synthesis (WFS), and psychoacoustics. His honors include the AES Silver Medal, the “IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronic Award,” the German Future Award, which he shared with his colleagues, and the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Furthermore he is member in the “Hall of Fame” of the Consumer Electronics Association and of the International Electrotechnical Commission. In 2009 he was appointed as Ambassador of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. Brandenburg holds a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg and received honorary Doctorate degrees from the universities Koblenz-Landau and Lüneburg for his outstanding research work in the field of audio coding. He is professor at the Institute for Media Technology at Ilmenau University of Technology and director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau, Germany. He is married to Ines Rein-Brandenburg. They share their home in Ilmenau with two lovely cats.

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