NYC Studios Welcome 127th AES Convention

by Steve Harvey. The audio industry's largest gathering, the AES Convention, attracts exhibitors, presenters and attendees from around the world. With the U.S. convention annually alternating coastal locations--even years way out west, odd years back east--it's New York City's turn to host the event this year, and local area recording studio owners are already looking forward to the industry's main event.
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by Steve Harvey.

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The audio industry's largest gathering, the AES Convention, attracts exhibitors, presenters and attendees from around the world. With the U.S. convention annually alternating coastal locations--even years way out west, odd years back east--it's New York City's turn to host the event this year, and local area recording studio owners are already looking forward to the industry's main event.

With a full schedule of technical papers, presentations, workshops and, of course, show floor exhibits, the convention, which this year will be held at the Jacob J. Javits Center from October 9 through 12, offers something for everyone.

"I have an interest in the small analog consoles that are out there," says Kirk Imamura, president of Avatar Studios. "And there are always new plug-ins coming out, so I'll be interested in those, and curious to see if there are any new announcements from Digidesign regarding newer versions of software."

Avatar, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, is one of the great New York facilities, having originally been established as the Power Station in 1977. Imamura, whose 30-year-old-plus facility was the subject of a historical technical tour at the 2007 AES Convention, is looking forward to similar events at this year's show: "I usually try to go to all the NARAS events, the Grammy Roundtable, the Platinum Producers panels, and, if there are any historical panels, I love to go to see those."

According to Paul Verna, returning as chair of the Platinum Events, Tony Visconti, Dave Reitzas, Bruce Swedien and Sylvia Massey look likely to be on the Platinum Producers and Engineers panel this year. "We'll talk about a range of creative and technical issues, play some audio clips, show some pictures and just have fun with it," says Verna.

In a new spin on the Platinum Mastering panel, once again moderated by Bob Ludwig, the focus will be on classic albums, continues Verna. "We're going to invite a handful of engineers and each will talk about one album that really stands out in their career. We hope to show some artifacts, session notes and pictures, maybe play some before and after clips and get into some anecdotal stuff, and really take the listener behind the scenes and hopefully reveal some insights people haven't heard before."

The new Platinum Artists panel will give the artist perspective on the recording process and the relationship between the artist and the producer, investigate how artists choose recording facilities, and reveal how the environment they choose affects the recording process. This year's NARAS panel has the working title, "Music Business 2.0," and will feature label representatives, managers and producers discussing how to keep your integrity while creating your brand.

For some attendees, the convention is as much about catching up with friends and business associates as it is about the latest technology. "It's more the social and networking aspect of it, more about people that I've known and like to reconnect with," says David Amlen, owner and CEO of Manhattan Sound Recording.

"If there's any piece of gear that is really something special then I probably know about it. Somebody has either had me sign a non-disclosure [agreement] about it or they've talked to me while they were developing it," comments Amlen, who has been affiliated with the audio industry for 23 years.

Having only relatively recently completed the MSR facility, Amlen is pretty much set for equipment. It's a similar story at Germano Studios, located in Manhattan's Noho district, which owner Troy Germano, former CEO of the legendary Hit Factory, completed a little over a year ago. "But there are always new products that you want to look at up close and personal," he offers. "There will be a lot of that touchy-feely kind of stuff at the AES convention. We're always looking at new plug-ins and new pieces of vintage, retro-futuristic outboard gear; things that people would want to use in a chain when they're making a record."

Like Amlen, Germano is also typically in the loop with all the latest offerings from the industry's equipment manufacturers, not least because of the work of his award-winning Studio Design Group. Germano Studios also constantly maintains and updates its equipment inventory, in recent months, for example, adding Telefunken USA CineMike tube microphones, a Genelec 7070A active subwoofer, and upgrading the Pro Tools systems in both studios to HD4 and v8 software.

Germano, who oversaw well over a dozen studios at the Hit Factory's peak, has seen his fair share of consoles, and comments, "There aren't any new consoles that I need to look at, as far as I'm aware. Outboard gear and microphones and additional plug-ins--those are the things that I'll focus on at the show."