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What’s on at the 142nd AES Convention

Mel Lambert previews the upcoming AES Convention, which will be held at the Maritim Hotel in Berlin from 20-23 May

Described as Europe’s “premier pro-audio education and networking event”, the 142nd AES Convention will be held at the Maritim Hotel in the creative heart of Berlin later this month. Convention co-chairs Professor Sascha Spors from University of Rostock (and also chair of the AES North German Section) and Nadja Wallaszkovits, chief audio engineer at Phonogrammarchiv, Austrian Academy of Sciences, have arranged a rich and varied technical programme, including papers and presentations from such luminaries as engineer Morten Lindberg, sound designer Richard King and producer George Massenburg, together with David Miles Huber and André Maletz (on electronic-music production), Darcy Proper and Jonathan Wyner (on mastering), plus Chris Pike, Paul Morgan and Matthieu Parmentier (on broadcasting).

Digital coding presenters include Juergen Herre and Jamie Angus, joining transducer measurement and perception experts Sean Olive, Wolfgang Klippela and Christopher Struck. Student and career events range from the Education Fair to Student Delegate Assembly, plus recording and design competitions.

“Our European members comprise one of the most innovative segments of our global membership,” states AES president-elect David Scheirman, who assumes his post this October. “The Berlin Convention is going to be an energetic gathering place for attendees ranging from Serbia, Turkey and Poland, to Denmark, Belgium and Austria. In the near-term, the Society hopes to engage these many members, and evolve to better serve their unique needs and interests.”

The four-day programme comprises presentations that will cover the latest developments in audio research through workshops, tutorials, technical tours, plus student and career development events. More than 100 paper presentations will cover live sound, game audio, product design, recording and production, ranging from loudspeaker design to 3D audio rendering, guitar-tone perception analysis, on-line collaboration and beyond. The workshop sessions will embrace a wide swath of topics, ranging from music mixing and metadata, to audio encoding, mics and virtual reality. A full tutorial program will focus on signal processing in music production, streaming, audio forensics and creating audio for VR.

The convention’s Heyser Memorial Lecture, entitled “A Historic Journey in Audio-Reality: From Mono to Ambeo,” will be given by Dr. Jörg Sennheiser, who joined the family business in 1976 as technical director and in 1982 took over management as executive shareholder. Sennheiser completed his doctorate at the ETHZ Institute of Telecommunications Engineering with a thesis in 1973 on “Sound radiation from thin sheet metals”. His many years of experience in electro-acoustics will provide a backdrop to his in-depth discussion of the evolution of audio and the listening experience. The need for more emotionality in the hearing experience, he will argue – especially together with visual presentations – has resulted in a need for new approaches and solutions throughout the workflow in the entertainment industry, including gaming and augmented/virtual reality that call for immersive audio technologies.

A two-part Special Event chaired by André Maletz will focus on Berlin’s growth as a centre for electronic-music production and sound design, with panelists Jan-Michael Kühn, Richard Roloff, Andreas Schneider and Brian Smith. Since the 1980s, Berlin has developed into a vivid creative environment with clubs, studios, festivals, creative communities and more, all of which have impacted professional audio.

A number of Technical Tours have been arranged to the Museum of Communications, Emil Berliner Studio and educational facilities throughout the area. Other venues on the tours include Meistersaal/Hansastudio (where David Bowie and Depeche Mode all recorded) together with HEDD Audio, nHow Studio, Tegeler Audio Manufaktur, Stage Tec, Riverside Studios, SAE Institute Berlin and Funkhaus Studios.

One stand-out session entitled “Loudness War II: The Streaming Battle,” to be chaired by Florian Camerer, will consider loudness normalisation for emerging platforms.

The traditional organ concert by co-presenters Sigrid Erbe-Sporer and Francis Rumsey – this year entitled “Jazz Meets Classical” – will offer a new twist, with classical themes morphing into jazz style played on one of the city’s finest pipe organs in the St Matthias church.

AES executive director Bob Moses is optimistic about the value of European Conventions. “In this rapidly changing world, audio professionals can benefit from sharing their needs and ideas to work out solutions that might become the next big music format or the next media delivery service,” he told PSNEurope. “That communication doesn’t happen over Facebook; it happens at our conventions and conferences, which is where the world’s top minds push forward innovation. If you’re an AES Member in Croatia, or Berlin, or Seattle, you need up-to-date knowledge, skills, relationships, and opportunities to succeed in this brave new world of home recording, digital delivery and evolving formats.”

Europe remains a challenge, however, because of its fragmentation. “There seems to be a trend toward further separation and isolation, propelled by forces much stronger than our small community,” states Moses. “AES has to be agile and bring people together so they can bring solutions back to their respective communities. Ideally, these challenges bring people together to create viable solutions – they do not divide and conquer us.”

At press time, the companion exhibition had attracted several dozen companies and distributors, together with a Dante Audio Networking pavilion, where a number of booths will be Dante networked; these and other exhibitors also will participate in educational sessions to be held on the Prosound Expo stage.