Opening day at last year's show. Amidst the chaos surrounding many industries these days, industry conventions seem like luxuries - often first to walk the plank of disposable indulgences.
The audio profession is not an exception as radio and TV broadcasters and recording studios feel the heat, though some parts of the live performance market have been prospering.
Organizers of the 127th annual Audio Engineering Society Convention hope to attract 20,000 audio practitioners to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City on Oct. 9-12.
This year's keynote speaker is a change of pace. Bill McGlaughlin is the host of "Exploring Music," an educational classical music program following the path of Karl Haas' long-running "Adventures in Good Music." McGlaughlin is a composer, conductor and musician; his speech is titled "Talent Doesn't Push Buttons." He will examine the teamwork required to put together quality radio programming.
If You Go
What: 127th Audio Engineering Society Convention
Where: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York
When: Oct. 8-12
How Much: Full-program advanced registration for AES members is $345, for non-members $465; both are higher on-site. Exhibits-only registration, student discounts and other programs are available; see Web site.
McGlaughlin won a Peabody Award in 1996 for public radio's "Saint Paul Sunday," which he hosts and on which he is music director. In 2003 he began hosting "Exploring Music," a daily show on WFMT(FM) in Chicago. He has co-hosted "Center Stage From Wolf Trap" since 1999 and hosted "Concerts from the Library of Congress" series since 2007.
Convention Chair Agnieszka Roginska said, "While the focus of our conventions are largely technical in nature, we are delighted to provide our attendees with an opportunity to enjoy a discourse by a broadcaster celebrated for his performance behind the mic rather than behind the control room window."
Legendary Grammy Award-winning record producer Phil Ramone will deliver this year's Heyser Lecture.
As traditional, a large number of technical papers, more than 150, will be presented, covering a variety of audio aspects.
Of interest to everyone should be a number of "future" papers and workshops concerning future standards or practices.
Notably, Peter Firth will examine methods such as how more efficient codec designs and amplification circuits can lower power consumption/increase battery life in portable audio devices. That could include portable HD Radio receivers.
Keynoter Bill McGlaughlin Not surprisingly the places that audio can make itself heard are multiplying, including "games." Paul Lehrman will deliver a paper investigating the use of the Wii game remote as a controller for music generation, while Nikolaos Moustakas will discuss his development of an "audio game" that relies upon real-time sound synthesis created within an "acoustic environment" of "virtual sound objects."
In fact, the game audio convention track has expanded into one comparable to others such as broadcast and live sound. It offers 10 additional sessions beyond the two mentioned (which are actually listed as general paper sessions).
Various sessions and workshops are devoted to honing studio recording skills, audio processing tips and mastering strategies. With digital radio, the old phrase "Good enough for radio" just isn't good enough any longer. That's true for digital and analog audio.
For instance, German microphone builder and modifier Dirk Brauner will hold a master class. Mixing engineer Kevin Killen's master class will be devoted to high-quality mixing on a budget. Killen has mixed albums for artists including U2, Tori Amos, Jewel, Shakira, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel and Sugarland.
Several tours are scheduled.
There will be a visit to New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development to learn about that educational program.
Broadcast/Media Streaming Sessions For more, see Paul McLane's Aug. 12 article about the AES broadcast sessions. Visit radioworld.com, keyword AES stream.
Friday, Oct. 9
Studio Design and Acoustics: A Case Study
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Innovations in Digital Broadcasting
Signal Management for Digital Television: Will Ratings Data Save DTV Audio Quality and Other Ponderings on a Process Gone Wild
Saturday, Oct. 10
Digital Audio Networks in the Studio
10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
IP Audio-Out of the Studio: Connecting Anywhere
Audio for News Gathering
Sunday, Oct. 11
Lip Sync Issue
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Listener Fatigue and Longevity
Audio Processing for Internet Streaming
Loudness and Audio Processing for Broadcast
Production of a Soap Opera
Monday, Oct. 12
Sound Effects: Recording and Mixing for Different Media
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Stream Playback and Distribution
For those with an interest in history, a tour of Sterling Sound is on tap; the recording studio traces itself back to 1969 and has been involved in hundreds of gold and platinum albums.
Less glitzy but possibly more practical is the visit to Industrial Acoustics Corp., a studio design firm.
For those sticking to the convention center, several special events are available. Among choices, Dave Moulton will give one of his familiar "Golden Ears" classes while Grammy-winning mastering engineer Bob Ludwig will tell those in attendance how he does it.
Other events cover significant historical ground such as Ashley Kahn's look at Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" and Jason King's discussion of Motown's golden anniversary. Brian Kahew and Kevin Ryan will examine the recording of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album.
Recording engineer Tom Fine will revisit the technical triumphs and techniques of Mercury Records' "Living Presence" series. His father, Bob Fine, was chief engineer for the series.
Noah Simon of NYU wants to transport his session's attendees back to the beginnings of Bell Labs in 1915. Broadcast and Streaming Events Chair David Bialik will examine the technical contributions of a small company called RCA.
There will be an expected 350 or so exhibitors, offering products from the latest digital gear to finely crafted analog hardware with assorted services squeezed in between. A Career Fair may be of particular interest given the recent economy.
Sessions in the Broadcast/Media Streaming track are listed in the accompanying box. This year's show also will host a Society of Broadcast Engineers Certification Exam session on Monday, Oct. 12, the first time an SBE exam session has been available at an AES Convention. The certification application is at www.sbe.org.
And the day before the convention starts, Oct. 8, there will be a nearly day-long surround sound symposium that will include a look at surround sound for radio broadcasts.