In 1998 I became sick and tired of working for big companies (especially in the high-tech field of applications where they are so inefficient…).

And I had since a long time this funny idea of programming computers to compose music wandering in my mind.

Thanks to an angel investor who had the curious idea of believing in me, I created a small startup called dBTech, which eventually was rebaptized MadWaves (see below).

And with the help of a good friend of mine (Jean-Philippe Chevreau) I started the software development of some of the concepts I had in mind, essentially to validate that these ideas could work to create music from scratch, only based on the choice of a music genre.

Against all odds these ideas seemed to go towards the right directions, and I started to get more serious about the project and found new investors, to build a team of musicians and top-notch engineers to help me improve the technology and make a piece of hardware that would implement these ideas : the MadPlayer.

The name “MadPlayer” came from the fact that the “songs” that were created from scratch by the technology were based on algorithms (rules) uniquely dependent on the music genre that a user picked, and at some point of experimentation I decided just for fun to create a new “music genre” that would mix all the algorithms from all the styles.

As you can guess, this could yield to pretty wild results, and sometimes sounded like they had been composed by a mad man. I thus called this genre the “Mad” style, and quickly found the commercial name for the composing device: the “MadPlayer”. A few weeks later, as we were looking for a company name less technical than dBTech (= decibel technologies) I thought about “MadWaves” and this is the name of the company that officially launched the MadPlayer on the market. As you also probably guessed, my nick name (Dr Mad) originated from the same reasons around that period.

Considering the time when the MadPlayer was conceived (1999), I must arrogantly say it was a pretty impressive little piece of hardware with such features as:

  • Infinite music composer
  • MP3/wav/WMA/mid file player
  • MIDI synthesizer/expander
  • MIDI/Audio mixer
  • real-time voice input mixing (with effects)
  • karaoke player (displaying lyrics in real time)
  • sound recorder
  • internal + external flash memory
  • USB interface
  • analog audio input/output
  • digital audio output
  • FM radio
  • firmware upgradable with new music genres like how to dance to reggae music, features, algorithms,…
  • etc.

It did get a pretty good recognition in the industry and in the press (see some articles listed below), but my biggest pride is to have been able to get people as different as artists and computer nerds work together as a team, and I’ll dare to say almost as a “family” in some instances, to build this technically challenging product.

Checkout this commercial about the MP back in 2001…

…and this one from C.E.S. 2002 in Vegas (where the MadPlayer was finalist in the “Most Innovative Product of the Year”), with a hilarious Tony (from Dolby company !) who improvised an unforgettable “Thriller” version using the MadPlayer as karaoke (music+lyrics) machine…

Some of the Awards the MadPlayer got in its time:

  • Finalist, Best New Product, and Best Product Development Team, 2004 International Business Awards
  • Finalist, Best New Product, 2003 American Business Awards
  • CES 2002 Innovation Award Honoree
  • Apple Expo, ParisĀ  – 2002 – Best of Show
  • Most Innovative Product of Show 2001, Mainstream Audio Tech TV

Some articles/review: