The Pursuit of Excellence in Audio

When you think of excellence, what picture or person comes into mind?  For me, it usually means a specialized skill set.  If I want the best doctor to deal with my heart problem, I wouldn’t go to a generalist, I’d find a cardiologist who even further specialized in a particular heart disease or problem and who has lots of lots of experience handling that problem.  I would never consider a restaurant that served every type of food first rate.  Usually we know that if you want the best sushi, go to a restaurant that specialized in making fresh sushi.  An all-around triathlon athlete, though impressive, still can’t be the best compared with the singularly focused athlete. 

The same principle carries over in product engineering.  Audio components are found in almost every consumer product and a good product visionary sees the importance of connecting the consumer at the deepest level with good audio.   Good audio is not just about mathematical equations; there is a complex psycho-acoustical component to how we perceive audio.  This is a synthesis of different disciplines that takes a specialized skill sets and experience to firmly grasp.  If it were a matter of brute force coding, there would be no need for the painstaking artistry of audio engineers.  Yet we’ve all experienced the vast spectrum of excellent audio to the cheesy lousy audio qualities.   It’s the difference between the NY Philharmonic and an elementary school orchestra. 

Engineering audio features into products place even further demand for a deep understanding of particular processors.  Good real time audio processing requires optimized DSP computations.  Our human ears cannot tolerate lag.  That is the difference that separates out an outstanding DSP design.  DSP Concepts possesses expertise in audio DSP algorithms with the world’s most optimized FFTs, Biquads, Butterworth, FIRS, Sample Rate Converters, and custom modules for all that’s needed for audio designs.  The optimized library of module blocks in our arsenal are optimized for the ARM Cortex-A, ARM Cortex-M, as well as the traditional DSPs such as ADI’s Sharc and Blackfin.   With these blocks, we can cut down a typical audio DSP software design process by 90% of typical development time.

Take the case of the NY Phil, the music director is the musical visionary.  He then has at his disposal top rate musicians, each an expert in her own right at her instrument.  As he brings together the orchestra of experts, 1 or 2 rehearsals is all it takes to produce the most delectable music.  In contrast, with lesser musicians, it will take several more rehearsals just to produce an acceptable level of music.

When building your product, pursue excellence in each individual skill set such as audio DSP with laser precision.  You can then achieve a higher quality product using less development time and resources.  The question as a music director is, how will you direct and program your concert?  Is it picking up the violin personally, or is it requiring the violins to make the colors and tones that you want?