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Genius! 3: Fumio Kamikura and dual companding technology

The brains behind Audio-Technica's pioneering products - part one

The general manager of the engineering department at Audio-Technica’s Japanese HQ is the Genius behind the dual-companding technology – which processes bass and treble separately for improved clarity and dynamic range – in A-T’s wireless microphone systems

How did you come up with dual companding?

In analogue wireless microphones, where the occupied bandwidth and high frequencies are limited, there needs to be some compression of the dynamic range. But the performance of the transient response of the compander inside will massively affect the sound quality.

These properties – transient response and securing a wide signal range – are contrary to each other, so the mission was to find a solution to cope with both factors. This was the genesis of the idea.

How does it work?

In conventional wireless microphones, the traditional idea was that the whole audio frequency range was covered by a single compander. By separating the signals into high and low frequency ranges, it then became possible to find the optimal setting for each of those audio ‘bands’, which resulted in a far superior overall sound quality.

By achieving a flat frequency response and improving the transient response at the same time, the performance of a dual-companding wireless microphone is therefore near to that of a wired microphone.

What other projects have you been involved with?

I have worked in pro audio for more than 20 years, specialising in electronic circuitry, system planning and embedded software. Over the past three decades I have worked on the development of multi-trackers, various automatic mixers, both analogue and digital, for conferencing and other applications; but my passion has been wireless microphone technology and I’ve been proud to be part of the core of Audio-Technica’s long-established wireless programme.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Highlights include our dual-companding wireless microphone systems being used at the Grammy Awards and Summer and Winter Games. I have also enjoyed going out and supporting the deployment of our wireless microphones at many of the world’s top sporting events, seeing how they are really used in the field and inspiring us to continually develop.

Read Genius 3! here.