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Electrical and computer engineering major Brandon Cochenour (Lower Burrell, Pa.) will discuss his research to improve music technology at a brown bag talk noon today in Jaqua Auditorium (room 103), Hugel Science Center.

No experience with electrical engineering is necessary to understand the lecture. Free lunch will be served.

Working nearly nonstop on the research since last spring, Cochenour has already published his results in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society.

He worked with David Rich, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, on a non-credit project to improve the way stereo loudspeakers deliver sound.

“The opportunity to apply knowledge I’ve gained from classes over the years, learn new areas, be published, and get invited to talk at an international conference is so much more than I ever could have expected,” says Cochenour. He explains that his paper focuses on his and Rich’s examination of crossover networks, which convert and route electrical signals to appropriate areas of the speaker, such as the woofer and tweeter.

“When you listen to a loudspeaker and stand up, the sound changes,” Rich notes. “We’ve been designing speakers in which the sound doesn’t change no matter where the listener is vertically.”

Cochenour was invited to present his research March 22-25 at the 114th AES Convention in Amsterdam. However, due to logistics, he was unable to attend.

“We found that one of the newer ways to realize some of the electronics inside the loudspeaker wasn’t readily accepted for various reasons,” says Cochenour of his results. He and Rich then did research on the industry standard, compared it to the new technology, and confirmed that the new way was, in fact, better than what is conventionally used.

Cochenour is adding to his research through an independent study with Rich, exploring acoustics and audio engineering in much broader detail than the specific area of loudspeakers. The work includes writing a computer program to reinforce his other research.

“Basically, I’m programming different types of ‘virtual loudspeakers’,” Cochenour says. “When I’m finished, I will have a number of subjects come in and listen to music through various loudspeaker types. Then, I’ll give them a ‘mystery loudspeaker’ to listen to, and ask them to identify which loudspeaker it was. If the majority of listeners are able to correctly identify the mystery speaker, it will show me that our research is valid.”

Cochenour began the work as part of a junior-year design project, then kept going throughout the summer and into the fall semester. “This project happened because he [Cochenour] is self-actuating,” says Rich. “He really drove himself. There’s no question that this is in his paper. He recorded his observations, formatted it, and wrote it.”

Cochenour says he’s grateful for the opportunity to work with Rich, who serves as technology editor of Audio Critic magazine and contributes to Sensible Sound and Stereophile magazines.

“Fortunately for me, audio has been a hobby of his [Rich’s] ever since he was a teenager,” Cochenour says. “In addition, he is very much a music fan. I have never ceased to be amazed at the amount of knowledge that he has. Needless to say, he’s taught me a ton about the field. And, most importantly, I have been completely involved in all of the work. He has given me a good mix in teaching me, allowing me to learn and do things for myself, and being there when I needed the help. Without a doubt, my best experience here at Lafayette has been the one-on-one interaction with him.”

A holder of 12 patents with two more pending, Rich’s biography will appear in the second edition of The Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, and he is quoted throughout a feature article in the fall 2002 issue of American Heritage of Invention and Technology magazine. Former technical manager at Lucent Technologies-Bell Labs, where he worked on wireless technology, Rich has shared his research in engineering journals and conference presentations, including articles last year in IEEE Microwave Magazine and IEEE Journal of Circuits and Systems. He is a reviewer for several publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and serves as panelist and organizer for IEEE conferences.

Cochenour adds that other electrical and computer engineering faculty are also extremely helpful and accessible to students.

“They know us well, and we know them well,” he says. “I love being able to run into faculty and to be able to stop, say hi, and talk. They’re much more than just the people at the chalk board.”

President of the campus chapter of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Cochenour is a tour guide coordinator for Lafayette’s Admissions Office and a volunteer with Lafayette’s Landis Community Outreach Center’s Adopt-a-Class program, in which he visits a third-grade class and helps students with science projects. Cochenour plays piano in the jazz ensemble and pit orchestra, plays French horn, and is a former member of The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, based in Rosemont, Ill. He has also served as an instructor with the Nazareth Area High School Marching Band each fall.


Brandon Cochenour ’03 is researching ways to improve the way stereo loudspeakers deliver sound with David Rich, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Categorized in: Academic News