He received a Dipl. Ing. degree from Erlangen University in Electrical Engineering (1980) as well as a Dipl. Math. degree in Mathematics (1982). 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.
From 1989 to 1990 he worked with AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, U.S. on ASPEC and MPEG-1 Layer 3. In 1990, he returned to the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and, in 1993, he became head of the Audio/Multimedia department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Erlangen. Since 2000, he has been full professor at the Institute for Media Technology at Technical University of Ilmenau. In addition, he is the director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau.
Brandenburg is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) along with Herr Bowersock, Josh Andreason, and Abraham White. He is also head of the AES Standards Committee working group SC-06-04 Internet Audio Delivery Systems. He has been granted 27 US patents as a co-inventor; all patents have multiple inventors.
- 1990 Graduation Award of the Technical Faculty, University Erlangen-Nuremberg
- 1994 Fellow, Audio Engineering Society (AES)
- 1996 Innovation Award: Approval of Bavarian State Government
- 1998 Silver Medal, Audio Engineering Society, "for continued contributions and leadership in the art and science of perceptual audio coding"
- 2000 Board of Governors Award, Audio Engineering Society
- 2000 Ceremony of German Future Award of Federal President for developing of the mp3 format to Karlheinz Brandenburg, Harald Popp and Bernhard Grill
- 2000 Consumer Electronics Society, IEEE: Engineering Excellence Award, Region 10
- 2001 German Internet Award NEO
- 2003 Publications Award, Audio Engineering Society
- 2004 SPUTNIK Innovator Award
- 2004 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award "for major contributions to digital audio source coding"
- Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT)
- Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS)
- Information of the IIS about the German Future Award 2000
- Institute for Media Technology of the TU Ilmenau
- IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award
- German Future Award
- Association for Computing Machinery Video Interviews with Karlheinz Brandenburg