Meet Karlheinz Brandenburg, the founder and CEO of Brandenburg Labs!
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Karlheinz Brandenburg, best known as co-inventor of mp3, is the founder and CEO of Brandenburg Labs GmbH.
At a very young age, Karlheinz was driven by curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge in engineering and mathematics. As a child, he not only used to redo children’s engineering play sets but also built them from scratch. He liked playing with electronics and even made his own circuits, built amplifiers, and traded them to his classmates at an early age.
Growing up, he voraciously read books about famous inventors and thought about their significant accomplishments. He never thought he could be an inventor one day. Ultimately, his passion for mathematics and engineering paved the path toward working on his dream.
Accordingly, in 1980, he received a Dipl. Ing. degree from Erlangen University in Electrical Engineering with a thesis focusing on digital signal processing. However, during that time, the work required a fast processor, which was very expensive, and there were no special computers available at the university. He also held a Dipl. Math. degree in Mathematics in 1982.
After completing his master’s studies, Karlheinz got an offer to advance his studies under the supervision of his professor, Dieter Seitzer, who was working on the idea of transmitting high-quality audio, especially music, via an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). Karlheinz was very interested in sound and music; thus, he didn’t hesitate to take on this topic.
Consequently, in 1989, he obtained his Ph.D. from the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Electrical Engineering for his work on digital audio coding and perceptual measurement techniques.
The research results of his dissertation are the basis of MPEG-1 Layer 3 (mp3), MPEG-2 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), and most other modern audio compression schemes. He worked with colleagues at Fraunhofer IIS and in the MPEG-Audio standardization group. In the end, the technology was standardized as ISO/IEC MPEG-Audio Layer 3, later nicknamed mp3.(Read one of his interviews about the development of Mp3 technology and his involvement here.)
During the time when the standard was prepared, he worked as a postdoctoral Member of Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories (New Jersey, USA) from 1989 to 1990. In 1990, he returned to the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and, in 1993, became head of the Audio/Multimedia department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen.
Currently, he is a Senior Professor at TU Ilmenau. He has successfully worked as a scientist and researcher, as a full professor and head of the Electronic Media Technologies lab at Technische Universität Ilmenau, and as the institute director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT).
After he concluded his commitments at Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology in Ilmenau in 2019, Karlheinz used part of his share from the MP3 patent royalties as seed funding for Brandenburg Labs, aspiring to create a leading audio technology company in the world.
Karlheinz greatly appreciates working with young, energetic, and passionate audio enthusiasts at Brandenburg Labs. For a change-maker like him, setting the bar for the audio technology industry once again and achieving the impossible is something that he lives up to.
One of the things that makes him successful in his career is persistence. He never gave up on what he wanted to achieve, no matter how difficult it maybe be. Karlheinz always finds ways to get things done, even when it means working harder and believing in positive outcomes.
When it comes to working with others, Karlheinz is highly reliable and a great team player. He is adaptable and can easily change gears if the situation demands it.
Amongst his colleagues, Karlheinz is known for being fast at grasping ideas. His ability to take new information quickly and easily makes him great at learning new things and understanding complex concepts. Accordingly, he sees how new ideas fit into existing knowledge and how they can be applied to solve problems and come up with creative solutions.
Karlheinz envisions a flourishing future for his thriving start-up, our very own Brandenburg Labs. Within the coming 5-10 years, BLS expects to release well-established products to the market besides our groundbreaking research projects.
In his leisure time, Karlheinz likes to hike and be in nature, taking breaks from the ordinary routine. He enjoys being in the sun and chilling by the sea. The Canary Islands is his favorite destination to relax around the beach.
Karlheinz is also a travel junkie and loves doing outdoor activities and learning new things. He visited more than 40 countries and has been to all continents around the globe.
Fun fact: Karlheinz loves assembling PCs all by himself, including selecting hardware, building the PC, and installing the operating systems.