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AES Serves Up Live Sound

The annual AES Convention is always a live-sound melting pot—a place where ideas, information and anecdotes flow freely among peers and professionals.

The annual AES Convention is always a live-sound melting pot—a place where ideas, information and anecdotes flow freely among peers and professionals. This year’s Live Sound track, curated by committee chairs Jonathan Novick and Michael Knowles, is a perfect example of the convention’s balanced sound reinforcement offerings, as the lineup of workshops, panels, papers and more for this year’s show highlights everything from historical recollections to ways to deal with future technology changes.

One of the most anticipated—and likely crucial—live sound events at the AES show will be the “Wireless Microphones for the Future” panel. Moderated by James Stoffo, the presentation will bring together panelists from Shure, Sennheiser, Line 6 and Lectrosonics.

“The state of wireless has been a moving target recently,” said Novick, “especially with the TV Band Devices rules that were just signed off by the FCC in late September. At this point, everyone who uses wireless mics needs an update as to what’s in store for frequency planning in the coming years—and this is their opportunity to find out everything they need to know, directly from the most knowledgeable sources.”

The wireless-mic panel may discuss waves, but there’s another live sound event that could cause them. Novick expects that the “Economics-Driven Change” panel may raise some eyebrows— and maybe a few voices as well.

“The ‘Economics-Driven Change’ panel moderated by Ken Lopez could be quite controversial,” he opined. “The idea for it was sparked by a tour accountant who was looking at a production’s costs and said, ‘This is wasteful; why don’t you do it this way?’ We’re still finalizing the panel, but we’ll have people on both sides of the fence involved, and you can expect some heated comments. Ken’s a great moderator who did a fine job on our ‘History of Innovations in Live Sound’ panel last time in San Francisco, so we know this will be a well-rounded, thought-provoking panel.”

There will be another offering, however, that will help people calm down—in particular, people who live near a venue with loud music. The “Subwoofer Directionality” panel will explore optimal multiple- and single cardioid subwoofer output patterns that can be used to place sub power where you want it—the audience— and keep it from other spots, such as the stage and nearby residences.

“The ‘Subwoofer Directionality’ panel is a new addition,” said Novick. “It’s a relatively new field that people are becoming increasingly interested in, because some big players have done it for a while, but the concepts and technology are trickling down and becoming more widely adopted, especially to help venues follow local sound ordinances. Subwoofer directionality is potentially a way to be a bit more friendly and considerate to neighbors.”

Other events in the live sound track will cover a myriad of topics, like measurement systems and microphones, “green” touring, system design for corporate events, proper use of fill speakers and more. There’s one event in particular that Novick is excited about, however: “I’m really looking forward to our historical panel—‘San Francisco Live Sound in the ‘70s.’ That will be very interesting, because when you think of the era, with the Grateful Dead and other historic bands, there’s so much to explore! That era of San Francisco was a birthplace for so much music and technology, so it will be fascinating to learn more about it from the people who made it happen.”

Whether you want to find out more about that legendary time in live sound history or discover what’s in store for sound reinforcement practitioners tomorrow, make sure to put the Live Sound track on your AES itinerary.