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Q&A with Ron Sauro, NWAA Labs

A former NASA engineer and scientist, Ron Sauro now heads up NWAA Labs, a Santa Clarita, Calif.?based lab for testing loudspeakers and materials for the audio industry.

A former NASA engineer and scientist, Ron Sauro now heads up NWAA Labs, a Santa Clarita, Calif.–based lab for testing loudspeakers and materials for the audio industry. Among other things, the lab tests loudspeakers for conformance to the Generic Loudspeaker Library specification, which was introduced at the AES convention in New York in October 2006.

PRO AV: Tell us a little about NWAA Labs.

SAURO: NWAA Labs was founded to fulfill a long-standing, but unrealized industry requirement for independent, standardized loudspeaker and acoustic materials testing. I was able to adapt the array I designed at NASA for magnetic data acquisition for use in gathering sound data at NWAA Labs. This design allows for an exponential increase in the rate of data acquisition, reducing the time involved from many hours, to often less than 40 minutes, thus minimizing the environmental variations that hamper accurate measurement, particularly phase measurements.

PRO AV: What is the Generic Loudspeaker Library?

SAURO: The Generic Loudspeaker Library is a method of inputting, calculating, and displaying complex speaker directivity data. It's accomplished by measuring individual drivers, in place, and then mathematically integrating these balloons with crossover transfer functions. The data is gathered and stored using impulse responses and can be geometrically combined to do what point-source information cannot do. Its first use was in the EASE 4.2 program, but has been designed as a generic data source for use by the entire industry. It provides a large source of information in a very small storage footprint.

PRO AV: What does GLL testing say about a loudspeaker and how it might perform in the real world?

SAURO: It is especially useful for the construction and simulation of line arrays and complex cluster arrangements in order to predict lobing and other acoustic results more accurately. In other words, GLLs can be used by simulation programs to accurately predict real-world performance of complex and variable configurations of loudspeaker boxes and arrays.

PRO AV: How can AV pros use GLL results and GLL files?

SAURO: Consultants can take advantage of independent testing to confirm equivalent performance between loudspeaker boxes created by different manufacturers. This is useful when specifying a system and then having many contractors bidding with “equivalent” speaker boxes. Comparing GLL measurements helps remove subject marketing claims from what should be—and now can be—an objective process. This also helps contracting personnel to meet system performance criteria.

PRO AV: How has industry adoption been so far?

SAURO: We are receiving more and more requests from consultants and contractors for GLL data and more than a dozen manufacturers have adopted the GLL format. (Technomad Associates of Boston most recently received GLL certification from NWAA Labs for its IP56-rated weatherproof loudspeakers.)

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