Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Sennheiser Seminar… Sennheiserminar?

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting Daryl Nishymiya and Brian Walker of Sennheiser for a presentation on some audio and RF principals. We were joined by Jeff Polonus (Sound Design alum 2012) and team sound from Cal Sate Fullerton as well as a few others. A fun and enlightening time was had by all. Thanks to BC, our sound supervisor, for setting up the presentation, and thanks to Brian for hanging out with us and answering questions after. We haven’t forgotten your offer to bring by a few racks full of wireless equipment and do a full scale tuning with us ;)


Sunday, October 18, 2015

New Facebook Home

We were recently encouraged to start a Facebook "fan" page for the UCI Sound Design program. We will certainly still be updating this blog (and we're working on posting some new photos to the website), but if you're interested in following our happenings, give us a like!


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Further Adventures of 255 2015: TechMDi

After our trip to JBL/Harman, we switch gears completely for our next class adventure. We again braved the 405 North at rush hour, but this time to Burbank; A land that is covered in sprawling studios of every discipline, full of artists and technicians at the top of their respective games, none of whom can talk very much about their current projects because they are up to their eyeballs in non-disclosure agreements.

Fortunately, it turns out we know a guy!

Joe Wilbur, a 2010 graduate of our program was nice enough to take us around the digs at TechMDi. They are a company that designed, builds, and installs audio, video, and show control systems and wrappers for many applications, but they work primarily in themes entertainment. Among many other clients, they are one of Walt Disney Imagineering’s go-to houses when they need someone to make all the pieces fit and end-user operable! Find out more about them at their website.

Joe brought us in through the “Design Bullpen;” and we were met warmly by Dave Revel, the President of TechMDi, and Kei, the shop dog and mascot, who went from skepticism to bringing us tennis balls in just moments. We passed a number of offices (including that of Tim Brown, UCI Sound Design MFA 2011, who was out of the country at a job site) on our way back to their shop spaces, the larger of which is an open floor where they lay out and build racks, and the smaller of which is where they produce UL compliant faceplates for all of their operator panels. It was cool to see some of the system diagrams and how they compare to how we tend to think of line diagrams in theater. Line diagrams make sense for us because our systems generally only need to move signal in one direction, but a non-linear approach needs to be taken when coordinating multiple playback types across multiple zones.

Joe does a great deal of system programming for TMDi, and one of the major platforms that they currently use is one that we don’t have our hands on at UCI: QSys. Joe took us through some really basic steps in QSys designer as we sat around the big conference table. He stepped us through the way that TMDi goes about organizing multi-zone systems, in order to help parse through the tremendous number of control points throughout the varying programs that they use. He also set up a simple system from scratch in order to demonstrate some of the more straightforward functions available. He also gave us doughnuts, which is of equal importance.

So thank you Joe, Dave, and the rest of the team at TMDi for hosting us! I’m sure you’ll see some of us again in the future.

- Ben

Friday, October 9, 2015

Field Trip to Harman/JBL

One of the best parts about coming back to school is our first quarter Trends in Modern Sound Design class.  This class (apart from being home to some of our favorite recurring projects... stay tuned) is often a great time for us to visit some really awesome places where sound trends are being made! In the past, we've visited Warner Brothers, L'Acoustics, QSC, and more!  This week, we woke up early and headed to Harman for a tour of their engineering and testing facilities.

We learned about compression driver technology, and JBL's take on how to make the drivers more efficient, with lower distortion.  Then we took a look at the testing facilities, where JBL was going through their notorious, rigorous 100-hour power test.  The room (behind 3 doors) required ear protection, because the SPL from their power test was incredible (it clipped the microphone on the crude SPL meters on our phones)!

The photo below is us in the power test room with Henry Goldansky, Director of Engineering for JBL.

After a peek in the anechoic chambers (they have 4 of them!), we heard a great lecture from Dr. Sean Olive about subjective listening research.  We were honored to be featured on his slides as the "most trained" student ears. (Thanks Mike for your critical listening class!)  The slide below was one of my favorites -- it shows a correlation between training and cynicism.

Chart from Harman Innovation Hub

Following the lecture, we were invited into the subjective listening room, where a hydraulic speaker mover hides behind a black grill cloth, and Harman's proprietary iPad app allowed us to choose our speaker preferences.  The speaker mover was a brilliant solution to ensure that each speaker was placed in the exact same place.  Interestingly, our preferences were all pretty similar to each other, and we were surprised with how accurately we could distinguish between the different bookshelf speakers in a blind test.  It became apparent that each of the speakers really did have a character of its own.

Photo from Dr. Sean Olive on Twitter

Thank you very much to our hosts at Harman/JBL: Paul Chavez, Ken Freeman, Henry Goldansky, and Dr. Sean Olive. We had a great time and learned a lot about subjective and objective testing!

My fellow students also wrote a quick note on their experience, after the jump.

--Matt Eckstein