AES Headphone Technology Conference: Introduction

Having done my Google maps satellite surveillance prior to the event, my hotel was a quick 100 meter walk from the Nordkraft building in which the conference was held. This old power plant building was refurbished in 2009 as part of a cultural development effort in the surrounding waterfront area.

The Danes don't much need air conditioning—the average temperature in August is a mild 68F—so the classroom used some fans to circulate air. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a heat wave while we were there, and the temperature was over 80 degrees in the heat of the day, with over 90 percent humidity. I dare say the temperature in the room was over 90 degrees at times.


Normally, you'd think there would be a lot of head-bobbing and eye-drooping going on—I did once or twice—but to tell you the truth I found most of the papers quite fascinating and my interest remained high. Picture, if you will, sitting in the proverbial pot as the heat gets turned up as you concentrated hard on scientific papers. Oh man, that first ice cold beer at the hotel in the evening was bliss.

The Papers
The thing about the papers presented was each was a very dense nugget of information about a very particular point in one narrow niche or other regarding headphones. It might be how a handfull of statistical methods can be used to sort statistical results of subjective testing with varying degrees of error and accuracy, or it might be the study of susceptibility to radio interference with various grounding methods for headset cables. Not too many sweeping overviews here, just points of information scattered over a wide variety of fields.

I've lumped most most of the papers into five categories, and will be presenting a summary of the papers in each category in separate posts. They are:

  1. Spatial Audio - Papers that discuss various aspects of getting sound to appear to come from outside your head on headphones.
  2. Head Related Transfer Function - Papers that deal with acquiring, analyzing, and interpreting the meaning of HRTF data.
  3. Sensory Profiling - Papers dealing with the quantification of the subjective listening experience.
  4. Weird Science - Some of the papers are a bit hard to categorise and sometimes they didn't even have anything to do with headphones. I can't generalize here, but there's some cool/weird stuff in this lot.
  5. Papers of Interest for Enthusiasts - While there were lots of interesting papers, most were pretty far removed from anything useful for a hobbyist. A few, however, are quite relevant to enthusiasts and contain information that might actually be useful to know.

I think you'll find an interestin week of reading ahead. Enjoy!

tony's picture

Was all this in English?

Tony in Michigan

Tonmeister's picture

Yes, all AES International conferences are presented in English including the proceedings or preprints.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Yo Tyll,

Thanks, as always, for sharing your experiences with we fellow audio fans. The science of it all is endlessly fascinating and I look forward to reading more from each of the nifty five categories you've outlined. Thanks too for sharing your personal pix..always fun to see a new part of the world through others eyes.

Have fun, take pix, enjoy the food n brews, be safe, and keep the great reports a comin!

Peace .n. Living Globally In Stereo

Three Toes of Fury