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Auto-mixing technology hoax!

Installation Staff 12 February 2015

Automatic music mixing could revolutionise the industry, saving time, saving space, but not saving jobs. Speech for conference systems is already mixed by computer, but live music is hugely more complex, which is why a session on the next revolution in audio, presented by RH Consulting and the Korean Advanced Technology Research Group attracted considerable interest – and also laughter, as it emerged it was an elaborate hoax, designed to elicit an authentic reaction and discussion.

Consultant Roland Hemming demonstrated the ‘technology’, with its ability to recognise instruments, where the chorus is in a song, proximity sensors in microphones to know how close you are to it, and ‘Heisenberg pre-processing’ (to end the uncertainty principal), to illustrate just how powerful such technology might be.

Audience voting showed there was general acceptance that such technology could be useful (particularly as an aid to an engineer) –17% said they’d never buy it.

In order to get authentic reactions and for people to address the issues realistically, Hemming didn’t want the session to be hypothetical, believing an honest discussion could help shape the future: “We know it is coming. A number of companies are working on it.”

He wanted to see how the notion of automatic mixing would impact the business. For example, if there is no mixing desk, it would free up many seats in a theatre, which could be very lucrative.

It took a lot of work to create a convincing simulation, writing custom software and coming up with plausible new ‘inventions’, like ‘Heisenberg pre-processing’. When Hemming talked about the topic last year it annoyed many engineers, who argued that it couldn’t happen because mixing was an art – half the ISE audience agreed mixing was 50% or more art. Hemming is making the results of the experiment available for free.

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