Dan Dugan Sound Design is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018 and has launched a year-long celebration. Company founder Dan Dugan, CEO of Dan Dugan Sound Design, Inc. will be at the company’s display booth for several trade shows this year (including ISE, NAB, InfoComm, AES and others) to greet attendees and conduct his “killer demo” of legendary Dugan automatic microphone mixing technologies.
Dan Dugan began his sound designing career while working at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he designed the first multi-scene theatrical sound console along with other equipment. While at ACT, the production stage manager coined the title Sound Designer “to describe what Dan Dugan does.” He became independent shortly thereafter.
Dugan took on the challenge of designing sound reinforcement systems for regional productions of the musical Hair. He thought that there had to be a better way to handle 36 live mics on stage than twisting knobs on a rack of mixers. After six years of experimenting, he found a solution. His invention, the automatic microphone mixer, radically improved the quality of sound operation in installed sound, conferences and broadcasting. No longer did audio mixers have to sweat fading up the next talker while keeping system gain under the feedback point; instead, they were free to focus on the quality of the mix.
An automixer controls a group of live microphones, turning up mics when someone is talking and turning down mics that aren’t being used. The real-time voice-activated process invented by Dugan maintains overall system gain and ensures everyone is being heard at the right time. The technologies invented by Dan Dugan are widely recognized for their “transparent” gain-sharing operation. Overall system gain is held at the level of one microphone, regardless of who is talking, how loudly (or softly) they are talking or how many people are trying to talk at once. Operation is simple: microphones are connected, system gain is set, and the automixer takes care of the rest. The result is clear, understandable audio without upcutting talkers or shifts in background noise.
Over the years, Dugan products have been updated to conform to changing industry standards. Modern DSP technologies have been adopted, as well as current modes of I/O including ADAT, MADI and Dante. Control of “Dugans” has also progressed with the years, with remote control via PC and iPad apps and a physical control surface option.
Dugan products are used in education, corporate, live theater, television and government settings worldwide. In addition to manufacturing his own products, which connect to standard audio consoles via insert points, Dan Dugan licenses his algorithms to other manufacturers. Yamaha has now adopted Dugan technology in all of their digital mixing consoles and installed sound processors, and Dugan automixing is available in products from Waves, Sound Devices, and Protech Audio. Dugan also manufactures a plug-in automixer card for selected Avid products.
When not in his lab in San Francisco, Dan Dugan is an avid recordist for the Nature Sounds Society, often capturing realistic surround recordings in Yosemite National Park. He also has a lively interest in philosophy (particularly skepticism), the philosophy of science, and current controversies about scientific paradigms and alternative medicine. In the Professional Audio world, Dugan has made public challenges to fraudulent and overly extravagant claims for high-end hi-fi products.
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