Los Angeles, CA (September 27, 2016)—Returning to downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, the Audio Engineering Society’s 141st Convention promises to plunge attendees deep into the evolving technologies of professional audio in 2016 via special focuses on new markets and trends. Meanwhile, historic reference to the pro audio industry’s progress will be underscored in the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture, this year delivered by synth designer and “father of MIDI” Dave Smith as he presents “Synthesizers: From Analog to Digital to Software to Analog.”
“This year’s theme—‘Immersed in Audio’—pretty well sums up where you have to be to move forward in the world of new audio technologies,” notes AES president John Krivit. “Live sound, studio recording, home recording, music production, broadcast and streaming, sound for picture, networked audio, game audio and product development are all covered here with a tremendous technical program of workshops, tutorials, demos, exhibits, student competitions and mentoring.”
"AES is a special celebration of both the craft of audio and the science behind it,” shares iZotope co-founder/CEO Mark Ethier, also a longstanding AES exhibitor, on why his company comes back every year. “The convention offers an incredible opportunity to get closer to users and hear what matters most to them, which helps us build better products. Last year in New York, we were able to debut Ozone 7 to the AES crowd and media, allowing us to get essential real-time feedback on our latest update. AES always gives us unique insights as to where the industry is headed, and we cannot wait to show you what's in store this year."
Why is the AES Convention arguably the most important networking event of the year for audio engineers? “It’s where the industry leaders, the top companies, the academics, the next wave of students, the history buffs, the researchers and the end users all connect,” explains Krivit. “AES 141 is where we’ll all find out where the future of audio technology will take us. It’s where information flows, questions are answered, commerce abounds and career connections are made at every level.”
Some of the Convention’s most exciting moments come in the form of project evaluations, which Krivit teases as a few of this year’s “must-see” events. “I’m a big fan of the ‘Raw Tracks’ series, where notable producers and engineers show us their multitracks of iconic songs; the last time we were in LA, we covered Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, the Beach Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m also pretty excited about author Howard Massey’s Great British Recording Studio panel which should follow pretty closely to his fascinating book that came out last year; this will be heaven for any Beatles or Rolling Stones fan. The ‘Real Industry Workshop,’ run by Stanford’s Jay LeBoeuf, will take students and young professionals through a compelling case study, preparing its participants for a career in the audio and new media field. The evening parties for both students and professionals are a lot of fun. Not only might you find yourself in a legendary recording studio, you’re bound to meet and make new contacts with new friends and industry colleagues.”
Krivit notes that the Convention will highlight notable trends which today’s established and emerging audio professional should consider for continued and future success—all of which are areas of encouraging, healthy growth. “First of all, there is so much going on with AoIP connectivity and it will mean that just about every audio and media facility will be rewiring its old analog connections,” he explains. “There’s a lot to know and there will be a lot of opportunity for systems integrators to make money. Secondly, we are on the cusp of big advancements in Immersive Audio. Dolby and Auro 3D are making huge investments in their respective technologies and companies like Genelec and JBL will prosper as theaters, studios and home enthusiasts purchase newly required overhead loudspeakers. Finally, you’re going to see a lot of media being released in virtual and augmented reality forms. How this will be reflected in the ways that we produce and the tools that we will use will be covered at the AES Conference on AR/VR in Los Angeles. The smartest companies are all implementing their strategies for anticipating and investing in this kind of future.”
The 141st Convention’s name-checking “Immersive Audio”—a term to describe a variety of emerging surround sound formats including height speakers—is quite appropriate, notes Michael MacDonald, president of ATK Audiotek, the SoCal live event sound, rental and broadcast audio specialty firm. As he explains it, audio ultimately joins visual and sensual technologies in our not-so-distant future as industry professionals, and the Convention is where this information is best disseminated.
“Call it immersive audio or augmented reality or virtual reality,” offers MacDonald. “Anyway you say it, it is the future, [resulting in] changing technologies, changing business practices, evolving A/V employment opportunities and more. We as an industry need to think media, not [just] audio. As memory and processing have become more powerful, sound and images are more frequently becoming a bundle. We need to think more systemically about AVC: audio, video and control. We also need schools that are turning out people with RF and digital RF skills. As wireless bandwidth moves and is compressed, we need operators and engineers that are facile in this technology!”
Speaking of reality, many evidences of the sea change in the “traditional recording studio” employment market cause the AES to take special care in addressing the future of the audio professional, especially from an educational perspective. “I’ve taught college students for 20 years and served as AES Education Chair for six years, and for all of that time, I’ve been keenly aware of the demographic shifts in the outcomes of college audio program graduates,” offers Krivit. “Recorded music will never go away, but as a career, it has been on the decline for all of that time. What has more than filled the void have been the opportunities for successful careers on the road as touring live sound engineers, work building the software tools that musicians will use to record their own music, technology support for companies who put on conferences and presentations and now audio technology students are finding their ways into audio careers in virtual and augmented reality.”
A recent experience, notes Krivit, also illustrates professional opportunities in music product retail, too. “As AES president, I had the opportunity to visit Sound Check Expo in Mexico City,” he continues. “Students there confided that they did not feel encouraged about the prospects of finding audio work in their local economy. Nonetheless, I would challenge the notion that a metropolitan area with 30 million people wouldn’t have enough microphones, loudspeakers, concerts, broadcasts, conferences, presentations and music to create opportunities to make a healthy living.”