Mix Interview: Dr. Peter D'Antonio

Jun 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Bob Hodas

THE SCIENCE OF MUSIC

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photo of Dr. Peter D'Antonio

Dr. Peter D'Antonio

Dr. Peter D’Antonio’s devotion to acoustics is driven by his love for music. As a bass player and singer (he still gigs today), he brings an understanding of how music should sound into his designs. As a scientist (with a Ph.D. from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn), he brings an expanding search for knowledge to help create tools that make great sounding spaces. It was the combination of musician and scientist that, in 1974, led him to develop a widely used design for modern recording studios utilizing a temporal reflection free zone and reflection phase grating diffusors.

In 1983, D’Antonio established RPG Diffusor Systems, Inc., leading the way in the sound diffusion industry. Since then, the name RPG has become synonymous with acoustical research and innovation. He is the holder of numerous trademarks and patents for a wide range of number-theoretic, fractal and optimized diffusing and absorbing surfaces.

Dr. D’Antonio has led the industry to develop methods for measurement and documentation of acoustical treatments, believing that a design performance must be proven, and not simply theorized. He served as Chairman of the AES Subcommittee on Acoustics Working Group SC-04-02, which published AES-4id-2001 for diffusion coefficient standardization; is a member of the ISO/TC 43/SC 2/WG25 Working Group, which published ISO standard 17497-1:2004 for scattering coefficient standardization and ISO 17497-2 for diffusion coefficient standardization; and has served as adjunct professor of acoustics at the Cleveland Institute of Music, since 1991. He is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and the Audio Engineering Society and a professional affiliate of the American Institute of Architects.

Acting on his belief to share knowledge, he has become a mentor for students, which he is now focusing on. He has lectured extensively, published numerous scientific articles in peer review technical journals and acoustical and architectural magazines and is the co-author of the reference book “Acoustic Absorbers and Diffusers: Theory, Design and Application.”

I understand that your initial inspiration for becoming involved in professional audio came, indirectly, from Manfred Schroeder…
It did. I had built a recording studio in my home in the early 1980s—I’m a bass player and singer. But the studio was just not really sounding the way I had hoped that it would. Being a physicist—at the time working for the Naval Research Laboratory—I did a literature search on recording studios, and there wasn’t a single article on the physics of it. I did come across some articles by SynAudCon about a live-end/dead-end situation. So I thought I would give that a try. It mentioned the use of an absorptive front and a diffusive rear, so then I started doing some research on diffusion and came across the article in 1980 in Physics Today by Manfred Schroeder.

As I started researching what these reflection-phase gratings [RPG] actually were, it turns out they were just two-dimensional periodic repeats of a series of divided wells. So understanding and being able to model what a reflection-phase grating was was second nature to me back then. And that’s why we were able to do so much modeling, and eventually designed a series of these surfaces. Then, just following my tendency as a scientist, I made a presentation at the Audio Engineering Society meeting. And it was actually in the session chaired by Manfred Schroeder, which was a bit intimidating. (Laughs.)






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