Audio bridges science and engineering with the complexity of the human listener. If we are too close that gap, we need to ask the right questions. This talk begins with a tutorial overview of topics in modern auditory science that are pertinent to fidelity and resolution. It also sketches information flow in the listener giving some surprising estimates.Next, a quick tour through sound reproduction, starting with analogue shows how a ‘narrow’ approach to digital audio inadvertently embedded key errors in recordings and playback systems. This is briefly illustrated with seven theories of ‘High-Resolution’ and consideration of the paradoxes of losslessness and data vs information flow. If we consider the whole chain from microphone to loudspeaker, and more precisely define objectives for transparency using principles of communication theory, modern sampling theory and current auditory science, we show that a better engineering solution is indeed possible.
J. Robert (Bob) Stuart was born in 1948. He studied electronic engineering and acoustics at the University of Birmingham and took an M.Sc. in operations research at Imperial College, London. While at Birmingham he studied psychoacoustics under Professor Jack Allison, which began a lifelong fascination with the subject. In 1977 he co-founded Meridian Audio and served as CTO until early 2015. In 2014 he founded MQA Ltd where he is currently full time as Chairman and CTO. At the request of Hiro Negishi and Raymond Cooke, Bob chaired the advocacy group Acoustic Renaissance for Audio between 1994 and 2002. In the 1990s he worked with Michael Gerzon and Peter Craven on lossless compression and was instrumental in its adoption for optical discs. Bob has contributed to DVD-Audio and BluRay standards and has served on the technical committees of the National Sound Archive, JAS and the ADA (Japan). In 2020 the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded Bob the Prince Philip Medal for his exceptional contribution to audio.