Wieslaw Woszczyk giving his keynote address at the 136th AES Convention in Berlin, Germany.
Berlin, Germany (April 29, 2014)—Closing today after four days of imparting pro audio innovation upon its attendees, the 136th Audio Engineering Society Convention kicked off Saturday, April 26, at the Estrel Hotel and Convention Center in Berlin, Germany, with a variety of offerings, including a keynote speech by Wieslaw Woszczyk of McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, that made its points with help from Pharrell Williams’ ubiquitous “Happy.”
Wieslaw began his keynote with a warning, noting that even though sound moves at 700 meters per second, "by the time my words reach the back of the room, they may no longer be true." Weislaw’s talk traversed the history of recorded sound, from its most humble beginnings to today’s creations that are instantly shared around the world.
Highlights of Wieslaw’s talk including playing the ultra lo-fi, earliest-known recording, made by Parisian printer/bookseller Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in 1860. Although it was the first recording, it could never be played back till recently, when advances in optical technology made it possible.
At the other end of the spectrum, Wieslaw examined Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” noting that at wearehappy.com, there are more than 1,400 different videos of the song coming from more than 130 countries, all united in their expression of happiness and joy inspired by music and dance. Underscoring that while playing back a “Happy” video shot in Berlin, Wieslaw briefly cut loose on stage with dance moves that got the audience going and brought applause.
"As creatures of technology, we have the responsibility to serve humanity," he added, noting that it was up to them to make that technology easy to use and convenient for the consumer, as the variety of playback options and implementations still make things difficult for the average user. Wieslaw promoted the concept of a "seamlessness" of technology application (say, the ability to play music stored on a smartphone through a friend's home system) that should be automatic in set-up and configuration, providing everything from the optimization of spatial reproduction all the way to loudspeaker calibration for a given room. He looked towards a future that includes 3D Sound and virtual optics. Given such a broad vision as to what consumer entertainment should be and what it would entail, it wasn’t too surprising that in his conclusion, he urged everyone in attendance to "cultivate a commitment to collaboration, not competition."
Elsewhere at the convention, a variety of Technical Program events, manufacturer exhibitions, the Project Studio Expo and more were on hand, providing attendees with the latest in professional audio innovations, as well as networking and educational opportunities with leaders in the industry.
AES Executive Director, Bob Moses, made the announcement that next year’s European AES Convention will take place in Warsaw, Poland (Spring 2015), taking advantage of its burgeoning audio industry and growing base of audio engineers, producers and music aficionados.