Anaheim, CA—The Audio Engineering Society brought its 70 years of experience in professional audio education to bear on this year’s NAMM Show for the first time. The inaugural AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium was held concurrently with the 2018 NAMM Show January 25-28 in Anaheim, CA, and was presented in an area of the Anaheim Hilton Hotel designated the NAMM U Education Center.
According to AES president David Scheirman, “With the professional audio industry growing and changing rapidly, we believe it makes sense for our society’s in-person gatherings to evolve as well. Considering the rapid advances that are taking place in the technologies and tools we use as audio professionals, there is nothing like direct, in-person exposure to the latest advances in audio equipment and workflow processes.”
The education and training program, encompassing nearly 300 sessions on topics including audio science and technology, entertainment wireless technology and sound system measurement and optimization, was targeted to working professionals in the live sound, recording and performance audio communities. The sessions were held in 20 rooms on the Hilton’s fourth floor and outside on the hotel’s roof deck level.
The program additionally included education/training courses for which attendees received a Certificate of Attendance to confirm their participation. Nearly 20 manufacturers participated in the AES@NAMM Academy program.
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Adamson, Bose, dB Technologies and EAW provided technical training and operational instruction on their latest products in the Line Array Loudspeaker System Academy. A 90-minute session detailed each line array’s design, theory and supporting software components; a second 90-minute hands-on practical session offered training on the mechanical assembly and electrical hook-up details for erecting an array from a portable line array tower, culminating in system proof and coverage confirmation with the use of pink noise and an evaluation track of music.
The Live Mixing Console Academy offered instruction on the operational details of live digital mixers and features of the latest software versions from manufacturers including Allen & Health, QSC Audio and Yamaha.
Wireless touring professional Ike Zimbel hosted the Entertainment Wireless Academy, which was supported by Alteros/Audio-Technica, Lectrosonics and Sennheiser. Each day began with a panel discussion about the latest spectrum update and changes to the available wireless frequency spectrum. Subsequent 90-minute breakout sessions focused on wireless hardware products, followed by best practices workshops on antenna systems and frequency coordination.
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Mark Frink hosted In-Ear Monitor Academy, which benefitted from the participation of Klang, Lectrosonics, Sennheiser and Ultimate Ears. The program included examinations of the physiology of hearing and fundamentals of IEM engineering that can help with hearing conservation. The session included engineering wireless IEMs and changes to the wireless frequency spectrum, plus demonstrations of IEM engineering best practices.
Manufacturers such as Apogee, DAD (Digital Audio Denmark), DiGiGrid, Eventide, Focal, Genelec, Meyer Sound Laboratories and Waves participated in the Studio Academy, which detailed the benefits, applications and interoperation of studio monitors, interfaces, DAWs, plug-ins and other products.
The Main Stage: Studio program offered presentations on various topics pertinent to producers, engineers, musicians and songwriters—outside-the-box recording techniques, virtual microphones, alternative studio design, DIY projects—hosted by producer, engineer and author Bobby Owsinski. Presenters included such pro audio professionals as Andrew Scheps, Sylvia Massy, Gavin Lurssen, Richard Chycki and Scott Gershin.
For event production practitioners, the Main Stage: Live schedule, hosted by FOH veteran Robert Scovill, focused on contemporary live sound system mixing and engineering. Sessions covered topics including digital mixing console automation, virtual soundchecks, low-frequency management in live concert venues and world-tour logistics.
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Participating expert presenters included Rat Sound founder Dave Rat, Sound Image president Dave Shadoan and ATK Audiotek president Michael MacDonald. Pat Baltzell of Baltzell Audio Design reported on his experiences mixing live entertainment segments for the Super Bowl halftime shows, while Coach Conner (FOH, Paul Simon) and Clair Global senior system engineer Howard Page (FOH, Sting) discussed the unique challenges of co-mixing the Sting/Paul Simon tour.
AFMG’s SysTune, Rational Acoustics’ Smaart DI and Studio Six Digital’s Audio Tools were the center of attention on the Sound System Measurement & Optimization program, which was hosted by John Murray of Optimum Systems. Workshop sessions included Charlie Hughes’ well-known subwoofer series, Jamie Anderson discussing multi-mic measurement, Chris Tsanjouries on crossing the art/science line and Andrew Smith on choosing the right frequency analyzer.
“This event was designed to provide a sampler of knowledge and hands-on training across the entire signal path, from microphone to speaker,” says Scheirman. “We’re grateful to see the enthusiastic response from across the audio equipment manufacturing industry in support of this inaugural event.”
The post-show tally of attendees indicated that the AES@NAMM symposium was a success, with business manager Richard Wollrich reporting that approximately 3,000 individuals participated. Pre-planning is reportedly already underway for a Board of Governors review and approval for next year’s event, to be held concurrently with the 2019 NAMM Show in Anaheim.
Of course, no AES gathering would be complete without the traditional presentation of peer-reviewed papers. AES@NAMM’s Audio Science & Technology Sessions additionally included daily presentations in Spanish by Juan de Dios Martin on “Mixing in the Box,” and in Mandarin by Professor Xiaowei Fan, lecturer in acoustics at Communication University of China, Nanjing College, on “Analog Logic in a Digital Era,” with Bing Lin, chair of the AES Guangzhou Professional Section, focusing on microphone polar pattern design and use.
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As Michael MacDonald, AES@NAMM executive chair and ATK Audiotek president, noted on opening day, the four-day event may have been about technology, but there was very much a human side, too. “For audio professionals, networking is typically first thought of in a technical sense, but networking with people is more important than ever. From my perspective, the NAMM Show is one of the biggest networking opportunities in our industry.
“The AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium has been designed to help AES members and non-members alike expand their ‘human network.’ Our program is formatted to merge in-person networking opportunities with hands-on training and expert tutorials about relevant topics affecting our industry today.”
Audio Engineering Society • www.aes.org
2018 NAMM Show AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium: Live & Studio • www.namm.org/thenammshow/2018/events/education/aes