imgNew York, NY (October 21, 2013)—With a flurry of excitement, the exhibit floor opened Friday morning, marking what for many is the true beginning of the annual AES Convention. The exhibit floor was packed with attendees and given the numbers, that's no surprise. Unofficial attendance numbers as of Saturday night placed the show at 18,320 attendees (thus not including Sunday, the final day of the event), making the 2013 Convention one of the most heavily attended in years.
While the first day, Thursday, was filled with the convention keynote, workshops, panels, papers and more, Friday's events got underway as attendees raced into the exhibition hall to see the latest and greatest offerings of the pro audio world. They weren't disappointed either, as hundreds of exhibitors manned their booths to present their products for the recording, broadcast and live sound markets, many offerings being displayed for the first time anywhere.
The result was that considerably more exhibitors were there than were on-hand at last year's edition in San Francisco, according to Christopher Plunkett, deputy director, convention management for the AES: "It's pretty exciting this year, as we have some companies exhibiting that weren't with us for a while. For instance, Yamaha has returned, and Sony Professional is now here in its own booth. Avid came in with all its partners for a really exciting display, and SSL has the biggest display its had with us in probably 10 years. So it's encouraging—we're finding companies are returning and others are doubling-down and investing in their presence here, which is great to see. They recognize that AES provides a great venue to reach the professionals of the industry."

Pros were there to check out the exhibits, but there were also a myriad of education and training opportunities available via the many papers, workshops, seminars and special events held onsite. Some highlights include the Project Studio Expo, held on the exhibit floor; the Platinum Producers panel, chatting with the hitmakers behind Eric Clapton, Justin Timberlake, Lana Del Ray and others; the Grammy Soundtable, with an all-star panel honoring the late Phil Ramone; and an interview with the engineer behind Thriller in Bruce Swedien: I Have No Secrets.

That just scratched the surface, however; those in need of career advice could stop in at SPARS Speed Counseling  or Career and Business Development Mentoring with the Manhattan Producers Alliance. Attendees who wanted to go behind the scenes at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon could make those dreams come true via the convention’s Tech Tours. More than 300 events were held at this year's Convention—the most ever—so there was lots to take in.

Even Sunday—the last, and therefore traditionally the slowest day of the Convention—had some amazing programming to take in. The ins and outs of audio for reality TV were explored when Brian McCarty, Bob Bronow and Josh Earl discussed “Sound for Deadliest Catch—Reality is Hard Work.” Meanwhile, next door Dave Natale, the FOH engineer for The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Lenny Kravitz, Tina Turner, Mötley Crüe and countless others, gave an on-stage interview where he divulged how he gets his trademark classic rock sound. Also, there was the Platinum Mastering panel, the SCN Systems Sound Symposium on the show floor, and Jay-Z’s engineer, Young Guru, which drew a packed house, particularly among students and younger engineers.

All of this points to the fact that while the AES Convention is all about professionals connecting, seeing the latest gear and sharing ideas, it also provides an entry point for the next generation of audio pros. “We’ve really tried to make sure the students are here; they aren’t being kept away from everything going on,” said AES Education Committee Chairman John Krivit. “It’s wonderful to see these kids and how their vision changes by coming here—it broadens their view of the industry, their place in it and the possibilities they can explore; it goes far beyond meeting people on the show floor. Any student who doesn’t come here is already so far behind the ones who are here.”

If it all sounds like you missed out on something great, then it’s time to start thinking about next year’s Convention, due to hit the Los Angeles Convention Center, October 9-12, 2014.