Dan Dugan to Receive Engineering Emmy

Dan Dugan, the inventor of the automatic microphone mixer, will be awarded an Emmy at the upcoming 72nd Engineering Emmy Awards. His award, for “Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development,” honors his invention of gain sharing automixing technology and will be presented in a live-streamed ceremony on Thursday, October 29.

Dan Dugan

Dan Dugan (Image credit: Dan Dugan Sound Design)

In a press release issued earlier today, the Television Academy said “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.

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“The idea for automatic mixing technology came to me about 50 years ago when I was a sound designer for live theater,” Dugan said. “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 Dan Dugan enables everyone to be heard at the right time, and it does so much more quickly than a human operator could. 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 fast, 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) 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 said. “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.”

The 72nd Engineering Emmy Awards will be presented on Emmys.com Thursday, October 29, at 5:00 PM PDT.


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