, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 550-559

The Haskins Laboratories’ pulse code modulation (PCM) system


The pulse code modulation (PCM) method of digitizing analog signals has become a standard both in digital audio and in speech research, the focus of this paper. The solutions to some problems encountered in earlier systems at Haskins Laboratories are outlined, along with general properties of A/D conversion. Specialized features of the current Haskins Laboratories system, which has also been installed at more than a dozen other laboratories, are also detailed: the Nyquist filter response, the high-frequency preemphasis filter characteristics, the dynamic range, the timing resolution for single- and (synchronized) dual-channel signals, and the form of the digitized speech files (header information, data, and label structure). While the solutions adopted in this system are not intended to be considered a standard, the design principles involved are of interest to users and creators of other PCM systems.

The writing of this article was supported by NIH Contract N01-HD-5-2910 to Haskins Laboratories. We thank Michael D’Angelo, Vincent Gulisano, Mark Tiede, Ignatius G. Mattingly, Patrick W. Nye, Tom Carrell, David B. Pisoni, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. We also thank Leonard Szubowicz for the time and care spent designing and implementing the original version of the Haskins PCM software.