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That Was Great, Guys. Let’s Do Another One.

But before we roll on “take 2012,” let’s give 2011 a last pass.

fwells@nbmedia.com

But before we roll on “take 2012,” let’s give 2011 a last pass.

While we haven’t turned a corner on economic recovery nationally, and the international situation is still precarious, pro audio has just gotten on with business. In fact, many of our industry’s manufacturers are reporting a banner year, even if whispered with fingers crossed so as not to jinx their good fortune (though luck has little to do with innovation and thoughtful development of products).

In post production, where once a number of post houses specialized in specific parts of the process, and in particular areas of post, diversity seems to be the byword of the day, as discussed in the Special Report beginning on the cover of this issue. In broadcast, the HD and digital transition continues to drive business forward, with more attention to audio quality and new infrastructure.

Live sound processing and mixing is evermore digital, with even stalwart analog diehards incorporating digital consoles and plug-ins. What was the last large-format analog console you saw introduced? It wasn’t this year, that’s for sure. Line arrays and digital desk usage, marketed in part for their environmental “green” factor are employed for their savings of another form of green—smaller footprints and lighter weight, reducing fuel costs and saving time in setup and tear-down, while also providing new heights of reproducible, predictable performance.

In recording, while the DAW and in-the-box paradigms dominate, mid-sized analog consoles are having somewhat of a heyday, ranging from the purely analog to hybrid console/ DAW controllers. The number of manufacturers with serious offerings in this category, along with continued sales by the remaining “big iron” console makers, are positive affirmations that analog still has a place in modern workflow. While label-driven megabuck productions are all but a thing of the past, legions of engineers are outfitting personal production spaces. The ever-growing range of available microphones, preamps and monitor loudspeakers is simply staggering.

For those who wish to pursue audio as a profession, the educational opportunities have never been more numerous; the number of schools teaching audio production keeps growing. A goodly number of experienced, talented audio professionals have turned to teaching, at least part time—some creating unique, smallgroup, hands-on seminars that harken back to the days of apprenticeship and mentoring. The motivation for these pros to move into teaching is partly an altruistic sharing of knowledge. But even where the audio pro has discovered they like teaching and want to pursue it full time, the career change path was typically first taken because of the simple need for income in a down economy and a radically changed industry. The trend is good news for the burgeoning student population, in terms of what they can learn, though one has to wonder what kind of careers await them all.

Retail continues to be where all but the most specialized and highend audio tools are sold (meaning certain monitoring systems that typically are sold with a room design and large-format consoles). The local pro audio dealers of old (full-line and full-service) were supplanted by MI retailers when many of the tools pros use became consumer commodities. That said, specialized local dealers have evolved, and the more massmarket retailers are recognizing that the pro market has different needs than their average customers. Customer service is making a comeback.

As we wrap “take 2011,” all of us at Pro Sound News and NewBay Media wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and a prosperous and healthy 2012.

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