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Welcome to the NEW AES

George Petersen • Editor's NoteOctober 2019 • October 15, 2019

The 147th Audio Engineering Society Convention comes to New York City’s Javits Center this month, from Oct. 16 to 19. After years of exclusivity and an overemphasis on old-school recording, the Society continues its refreshing move toward welcoming all forms of professional audio.

‡‡         Bring on the Beats

One positive step in the right direction comes from music innovator Grandmaster Flash, who will give the show’s keynote address, “Evolution of the Beat,” on opening day. I once asked the director of a European AES show why the society didn’t encourage more kids who were creating music and beats in their home studios to attend AES. In his thick German accent, he replied that, “we have an active program for young people from the tonmeister programs in the schools…”

Clearly, he didn’t get it. Students in college audio programs don’t have to be encouraged to attend AES; they spend all year looking forward to the show. In order to grow, the AES needed to reach out to the huge world of less-audio-centric music creators, and expose them to the pro techniques and better gear that could take their audio to the next level. And having a keynote from an icon like Grandmaster Flash is an excellent move in that regard. Yeah!

‡‡         Live from New York…

Closer to home — at least for FRONT of HOUSE readers — this year’s AES continues its increasing presence of live audio activities, ranging from a rise in live exhibitors, to a robust program of Sound Reinforcement Track sessions covering system design/optimization and a bevy of practical ideas and solutions.

“This year, we have once again gathered top industry experts and manufacturers at the pinnacle of live event production and sound reinforcement to share their hard-won knowledge,” says AES New York Sound Reinforcement chair Henry Cohen.

Educational opportunities include sessions such as “A Cookbook Approach to Sound System Optimization with Bob McCarthy and “Seven Steps to a Successful Sound System Design.”

Meanwhile, a multi-part RF session will discuss wireless spectrum and regulatory changes and advanced RF practices including filtering techniques and RF over fiber. “AC Power, Grounding and Shielding” focuses on providing AC power for small to large sound systems, including service types, generator sets, single- to three-phase mains and more — all while mitigating buzzing noises and hum. “Improving Sound Exposure and Noise Pollution Management at Outdoor Events” hits on the dodgy issue of noise abatement.

While once more esoteric, “Psychoacoustics for Sound Engineers” deals with the perception of live audio by the audience, engineers and performers and now applies to real-world applications, especially with 3-D IEMs, object based placement and live immersive systems of all kinds. [Note: See David Kennedy’s in-depth piece on the topic on page 42.] And while you’re at it, put the word “localization” on your list of essential buzzwords for 2020 and beyond.

‡‡         The Social Aspects — and Congrats!

The slate of activities at Javits may be impressive, but in the after-hours, the action really happens. Here’s an example. This year, Audio-Technica will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its AT4050 large-diaphragm condenser mic, which debuted at the 96th AES show in Amsterdam, in 1994, and I thought I’d share a quarter-century-old recollection of that.

A-T organized an after-hours launch/reception at a nearby hotel with Alan Parsons, who had beta tested the AT4050. All went well, and afterwards, the company’s marketing director (the late Buzz Goodwin) invited a couple of us to continue the celebration at a local bar. Once we arrived, Buzz was so excited about the successful product launch that he announced he was buying drinks for everyone in the bar. Fortunately, as an off-night, it wasn’t very crowded.

At closing time, the bartender presented the bill (a couple hundred dollars) but the bar didn’t accept credit cards and Buzz didn’t have the cash. The barkeeper didn’t know what to do and called his mother, who owned the bar, to come downstairs. Buzz explained that it was a company celebration with Alan Parsons… At that point, the mother (a huge Alan Parsons fan) said Buzz could come back to pay the bill the next day, but of course wanted to shoot a few photos with her and Alan in the bar. Alan graciously complied, leaving us all with fond memories of a fun product launch.

So congrats, Audio-Technica on creating a lasting, now-classic microphone and here’s to 25 more!

For George Petersen’s video introduction to the Oct. 2019 issue of FRONT of HOUSE magazine, go to:

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