AES president Sean Olive plans to build upon the organization’s recent successes. The digital revolution, which regularly introduces new methods to distribute and consume audio content, and the willingness to adapt to those changes, are the biggest challenges the Audio Engineering Society faces moving forward, says newly seated AES president Sean Olive. With more and more listeners getting their audio from digital players, mobile devices and online, Olive said it is imperative that engineers adopt these technological advancements.
“We need to embrace and adapt to the market realities that exist today, and find opportunities to serve those interests, and our membership, in ways that no other society can do better than AES,” Olive said. “The growth and strength of the AES in the future will depend on our ability to embrace technological and market forces that impact the audio industry. Given that we are mostly a volunteer- driven organization, there will be challenges in responding effectively to these forces.”
With his education and work experience, holding a Bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Toronto and a Masters and Ph.D in sound recording from McGill University, and working as an audio research scientist at the National Research Council of Canada and as Director of Acoustic Research for Harman International, Olive is confident his background will provide the AES with a balanced perspective of all aspects of the audio industry.
“My 20 years of experience at Harman International in professional, consumer, automotive and mobile audio should serve me well in dealing with the diverse group of stakeholders within the AES,” he said.
With roughly 14,000 members worldwide, Olive said the biggest asset for the AES lies within this membership.
“We are the only professional society in the world dedicated solely to the advancement and dissemination of audio knowledge and technology. Another asset is brand equity. We are celebrating our 65th anniversary and continue to be considered throughout the world as the final authority on everything to do with audio. This is reflected in our highly regarded audio standards and rich technical elibrary,” said Olive.
Coinciding with the always-advancing technology are the various ways consumers listen to audio. While listening to audio used to mean playing CDs through loudspeakers, now listeners prefer streaming music through laptops, MP3 players or other mobile devices through a set of headphones.
“Headphone sales are now almost $10 billion annually and growing, yet there’s proportionally little AES activity in these areas. So there’s a huge opportunity for AES to improve the science, technology, practices and standards in this area to improve the consistency and quality of the mobile audio experience,” Olive said.
Following the success of the 135th AES Convention, with a total of 18,453 registrants (a 16 percent increase from the 2011 New York convention, and 71 percent increase from 2012’s San Francisco convention), Olive acknowledged that while companies are becoming more selective on which conventions to exhibit at, the AES needs to turn its focus to the educational services to continue to grow at these events.
“AES needs to explore new avenues where audio is produced and reproduced—like cinema, live sound, automotive, game and mobile audio—and leverage its assets and brand. Clearly there is a growing demand for audio knowledge and training that isn’t being fulfilled by other organizations.”
Olive has also set a goal for his tenure to recruit new members in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) counties, and retain current members.
“There are opportunities for AES to significantly increase its membership in these countries if we determine how to best serve their needs,” Olive said.
The AES has always provided a number of services for its current members, from providing local opportunities for members to meet and collaborate with like-minded individuals, to offering the same opportunities on a national and international level at the annual conventions and conferences, and Olive plans to continue to improve on these services.
“Our Website and e-library provide online access to one of the largest repositories of audio research in the world. We could serve our membership better by making it easier to access this wealth of knowledge and the subject matter experts within the AES. These are just a few areas I feel could better serve our membership. I hope that members feel they can reach out to me and their VP representatives to identify other areas where we could improve how we serve our membership.”
Olive also encourages younger generations to join AES. “For me, joining the AES as a student was the best career move I ever made,” he said. “It gave me instant access to one of the richest audio technical libraries, and the opportunity to network with audio professionals locally and internationally. As a professional member, AES has provided me a life-long vehicle to share my research with other like-minded audio scientists, engineers and enthusiasts.”