Sound Reinforcement Summits at AES

by Clive Young. Every year, the pro audio industry converges on the Audio Engineering Society Convention in order to see the latest equipment, but that's only part of the story. For many, it's an educational Mecca of ideas, insights and advice, all shared through panels, workshops, sessions, technical tours and more. This year's 127th convocation is no exception, and there will plenty to take in from the experts on hand, particularly for those involved in live sound.
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Henry Cohen
by Clive Young.

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Every year, the pro audio industry converges on the Audio Engineering Society Convention in order to see the latest equipment, but that's only part of the story. For many, it's an educational Mecca of ideas, insights and advice, all shared through panels, workshops, sessions, technical tours and more. This year's 127th convocation is no exception, and there will plenty to take in from the experts on hand, particularly for those involved in live sound.

Live Sound co-chair Henry Cohen remarked that planning for this year's live sound programming has been underway since the last AES Convention, held in San Francisco. While some of the upcoming sessions were influenced by 2008's programs, this year's live audio programming is far from a carbon copy of prior offerings.

"We tried to determine what were really hot topics, what had great attendance and questions, and then explored the value in updating some of those programs on the East Coast for the people who didn't make it to San Francisco," said Cohen. "Nearly half our program is a continuation of the West Coast presentations, but East Coast attendees don't always have the same issues or concerns. For instance, we have more severe weather conditions, so what does that mean for equipment outdoors? Also, being in Manhattan, theater sound is a biggie. And although it's not part of live sound sessions technically, we've been helping Harry Hirsch with his history of live sound; arguably, rock 'n' roll sound reinforcement as we know it today initiated from the East and Midwest--Clair Brothers, Showco, MSI, db Sound. So we certainly feel there's East Coast-centric subject matter, but we try to add what the West Coast has to offer."

One panel that will be of interest for denizens of both coasts will be "The Greening of the Band: Green Touring Solutions for the Live Engineer," moderated by AES Education Committee vice chair John Krivit. There's far more to turning live sound "green" than merely making sure one has a light truck pack. "Fewer trucks and less weight in the trucks means you're looking at carrying a smaller digital console and a fiber snake instead of 56-pair copper snakes; that all leads towards a smaller carbon footprint," said Cohen. "Then there are batteries: Do you go with rechargables or disposables for your wireless or foot pedals? There's also energy consumption of the equipment you use--PowerSoft is marketing their amplifiers as being more power- and energy-efficient; I'm sure others will explore that approach as well. So it's an interesting and timely topic that's not just for engineers--it's also for the sound company owner, the system tech who handles all the gear, or the crew chief as well."

With the ongoing dramatic changes in the wireless world, what with the reallocation of the 700 MHz band and the coming influx of Television Band Devices (TVBDs) in the next few years, it's no surprise that those topics will be heavily discussed in their own sessions, including a "White Spaces and TVBD Update" and "Practical Advice for Wireless System Users."

Cohen noted that the two presentations will be scheduled adjacent to each other: "We're having the update session and then will immediately hold the wireless panel. It's very important that people understand what's going on. We still see a lot of confusion because there are multiple things happening concurrently that aren't really related to each other, such as the 700 MHz reallocation; that and TVBDs aren't really related." Accordingly, the update is expected to get the audience all on the same page before moving forward with the wireless panel--which will itself follow a new direction first broached last year in San Francisco.

"I took a lead from Karl Winkler from Lectrosonics who was the wireless moderator last year," said Cohen. "In the past, we'd covered wireless at mega-events like the Super Bowl and the Grammys. He took it in the opposite direction, discussing the issues affecting the small AV or sound company that runs around with a few wirelesses. We continued with that theme here: I called James Stoffo--who typically does

do the Super Bowl, and is moderating the panel--and said, 'Let's use all our expertise and knowledge, and impart it on how to tackle the basics, how to deal with the everyday stuff that happens in a hotel ballroom.' It's going to be 'the rubber to the road.'"

As mentioned before, other offerings on the live sound slate will include theatrical miking issues addressed in the "Microphone Dressing" panel overseen by Mary McGregor; "State-of-the-Art Loudspeaker Design for Live Sound" discussed by Tom Young; and a panel of experts moderated by Dean Giavaras, discussing "Microphone Selection and Techniques For Live Sound."Also set for the agenda will be panels and sessions such as "Sound System Design and Installation Considerations for Churches and HOWs;" "Exploring the Low End--Measuring and Aligning Subwoofers;" "Ten Things to Get Right with Sound Reinforcement Systems;" "Automixing for Live Sound;" "Networking Digital Audio In Live Sound;" "AC Power, Grounding & Shielding;" and "Innovations in Live Sound."With everything now set in place, Cohen has a good feeling about this year's lineup: "Certainly I'd like to think that in 2007 when it was last in New York, I had a pretty good technical program. I made a concerted effort to stay away from marketing hype and the esoteric, and we've done the same again. Come out--the entire program, not just live sound, is going to be terribly interesting. It's going to be a good show as always!"AES
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