Early Life

Gareth Humphreys-Jones was born in Liverpool, England in 1956. Gareth’s father worked as a lecturer at Liverpool Polytechnic (now John Moores University) and so from an early age, Gareth was introduced to the world of science and mathematics. But this is where he also started his interest in hi-fi – his father was a hifi enthusiast who built up his own system from individual components – something pretty much unheard of in the 1960’s. This love of music led to guitars and whole raft of different musical tastes from classical though to rock – via folk music and blues. At the same time, Gareth’s academic interests were becoming very maths focussed, leading to graduate and post graduate qualifications in Applied Mathematics.


Defence Career

Gareth’s skills in maths took him into a career in Defence Systems Engineering – developing signal, data and image processing algorithms across a broad range of systems such as radar, sonar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Electronic Warfare (EW), and communications. He worked first for large companies, then for a small consultancy, before setting up his own one-man consultancy business in 1993. Then, in a move to work outside of the defence industry, Gareth co-founded Acuity Products in 2008, with two former work colleagues, providing the three cofounders a way to exploit their defence systems and software expertise in more commercial and industrial applications. Since that time Gareth has consistently reduced his work in defence, in preference for his new ventures. And it was also in 2008, during one of his last defence commitments, that he happened to be on the same consultancy contract as an ex RAF Officer by the name of Steve Elford.

Acuity Products

The newly formed Acuity Products began to gain momentum with the development of a new ultrasonic process for the detecting very small air inclusions in the insulation of High Voltage electrical cable – as it comes directly off the production line. Building on previous research in earlier work done at Manchester University, Acuity Products has advanced the technology beyond recognition with three years of intensive development, both of software and mechanical devices, which has led to successfully implementation after proving trials of a first product at a major European cable-manufacturer.

The company moved its headquarters to Wales in 2012, from where it continues to grow support to the international cable-making community and to research and develop other applications within its scientific and mathematical expertise.

Research in Audio

Once Steve realised that Gareth was a; interested in hifi and b; an applied mathematician who had worked for many years in sonar, Steve asked Gareth if he would like to develop a common interest and understanding in the fundamental ideas and concepts that underpinned Vertex AQ’s products, and explore how the excellent ‘qualitative’ reviews that these products had been receiving could be backed up with hard, ‘quantitative’ evidence. This collaboration, which started in 2009, was very active over the following two to three years, and resulted in the development of analysis techniques by which the ‘noise’ added by a system to a playback of a CD could be measured in the time domain rather than in the frequency domain – as is the traditional approach. This time domain analysis represented a breakthrough in the understanding of such noise structures because – for the first time – they allowed the noise structure, associated with the playback of a specific passage of music, to be quantified and visualised. Thus this analysis not only gave a measurement of the noise reduction produced by the usage of the Vertex AQ technology, but also provided a means to understand more deeply how the noise reduction, achieved by the technology, produced the improvements in audio quality that the equipment reviews had already flagged up.

At the height of this collaboration, during 2010 and 2011, presentations on this subject were given at audio shows both in the UK and in the US, and whilst this generated a good level of interest in this work, it didn’t produce a source of revenue to fund this work. And so, for a while, both Steve and Gareth had to back away from this work in order to focus on activities within Vertex AQ and Acuity Products that generated income into their individual companies.

But 2014 could be just the year to start to move things forward once again??