Sound Solutions: Advances in Audio Technology Are Taking Distance Learning to a New Level

By Goral, Tim | University Business, November 2005 | Go to article overview

Sound Solutions: Advances in Audio Technology Are Taking Distance Learning to a New Level


Goral, Tim, University Business


AT NEW YORK'S MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF Music, Linda McKnight is preparing to teach,a Friday morning masterclass in double bass. It wont be much different from any other masterclass--there will be performances, demonstrations of technique by both instructor and students, and a healthy question-and-answer session--except for the fact that while McKnight gets ready in her classroom, her students are some 470 miles away at the Cleveland Institute of Music. They will participate via the internet.

The Manhattan School of Music pioneered this kind of interactive distance learning program in 1996, using it for private lessons, masterclasses, educational outreach, composer colloquiums, professional development sessions, and educational exchanges among schools both nationally and internationally. Multiple cameras provide different views and different perspectives crucial to teaching musical technique--such as close-ups of a hand on a keyboard or string.

The idea itself is not new; colleges and universities have experimented with interactive distance learning for years. What has changed in the nine years since the program began is the quality of the sound--full stereo reproductions that impress even the most discerning audiophile. "In terms of audio as it relates to distance learning, this is innovative," says Christianne Otto, director of Recording and Distance Learning at MSM. "What we've done is taken the technology and adapted it for a live music performance application."

Videoconferencing was not designed for music. In fact, for years, it featured little more than a picture with often tinny, telephone-quality sound to facilitate corporate meetings or distance learning classes.

But now, advances in audio "codecs," echo cancellation, and transmission methods have enabled MSM to connect students and musical artists together around the country and around the world. A codec (short for "coder-decoder") is a device that converts analog audio signals into a digital format for transmission, and then converts them back into analog format on the receiving end to play through speakers. Echo cancellation is a process that removes audio echoes that distort sounds.

"The codecs and echo cancellation units have all dramatically improved," Orto says. "It used to be that echo cancelers wouldn't really understand the complexities of musical sound and would create weird howling sounds and strange artifacts of sounds. The echo cancelers are getting smarter and can handle the harmonics and frequencies of musical sound."

"High-quality sound is of paramount concern in musical video conference," says Orto. "It enables us to bridge the gap of distance to have the teacher here and the student in a remote location. It is really wonderful because it's live, interactive videoconferencing in real time."

Different Tracks

Although audio recording and reproduction predates video recording by only about 50 years, the two technologies have advanced at very different rates. "The microphones have long been sophisticated," says Orto, "but now we can use those sophisticated microphones more effectively, because the video conferencing technology has caught up with us to a degree."

"I think we have done a lot to get the other elements of multimedia together--the picture and data transmission and the integration of other multimedia instructional tools," says Russ Colbert, global education market manager for Polycom, a firm that makes rich-media collaborative applications for the web. "But we've done disgustingly little to get the audio right for the room, and that seems crazy, doesn't it? If you don't have quality audio, what good is all that other stuff?."

Combining sound and video to the degree that Manhattan School of Music needs for lifelike music reproduction, or to provide the ultimate real-time distance learning class--still has hurdles to overcome.

For example, says Orto, even though MSM uses a variety of high-quality condenser and ribbon microphones to capture the sound, "we don't really know on the remote side what it sounds like, so we have to rely on the ears of those on the remote location to give us feedback," she says. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sound Solutions: Advances in Audio Technology Are Taking Distance Learning to a New Level
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.