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Dan Dugan To Receive Engineering Emmy Award

“Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development” award in honor of Dugan's invention of gain sharing automixing technology.
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Dan Dugan, inventor of the automatic microphone mixer.

Dan Dugan will be awarded an Emmy at the upcoming 72nd Engineering Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development” in honor of his invention of gain sharing automixing technology.

The award will be presented in a ceremony to be livestreamed on Emmys.com on Thursday, October 29, starting at 5 pm U.S. Pacific time. In a press release, the Television Academy says, “Engineering Emmys are presented to an individual, company or organization for developments in engineering that are either so extensive an improvement on existing methods or so innovative in nature that they materially affect the production, recording, transmission or reception of television.” Nine companies and five individuals are being recognized this year.

“The idea for automatic mixing technology came to me about 50 years ago when I was a sound designer for live theater,” says Dugan. “While watching an operator struggle to manage a large number of microphones, I thought ‘there has to be a better way.’ It took a few years of subsequent research and design work in my lab, but the gain sharing automixer was the result.”

The gain sharing technology invented by Dugan is designed to ensure that everyone is being heard at the right time, and working much more quickly than a human operator can. Overall system gain is held at the level of one microphone, regardless of who is talking or how many people are trying to talk at once. The result is transparent crossfades without upcutting, choppy sound or shifts in background noise.

Connection is simple: microphones are connected, channel gains are set, and the automixer takes care of following the action. The operator is then freed up to focus on the quality of the mix rather than trying to “ride herd” on multiple faders at once.

Dugan hardware products, which patch into existing sound consoles, and the licensed Dugan algorithm in other manufacturers’ products (such as those made by Sound Devices, Yamaha, and Waves) are intended to improve audio quality in broadcast news panels, sports commentary, talk shows, corporate meetings, political debates, distance learning, live theater, and other applications.

“It’s such an amazing honor for me to receive an Emmy for my invention,” Dugan concludes. “This recognition is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my life. I’ll be thanking a lot of people in my acceptance speech for their unflagging support and inspiration.”

Again, the 72nd Engineering Emmy Awards will be presented on Thursday, October 29 starting at 5 pm U.S. Pacific time on Emmys.com.

Dan Dugan Sound Design

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