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AES And NAB Play Nicely Together In New York

The robust broadcast business offers pro audio an anchor as music and audio production as well as other TV workflows continue to undergo technical and cultural evolution.

For the second year in a row, a co-location between the Audio Engineering Society’s AES Convention (Oct. 17-20) and the National Association of Broadcasters’ NAB SHOW New York (Oct. 17-18) created a synergy beneficial to both organisations and their constituencies. Both expos and their conference programs took place at the Javits Center.

Total registered attendance was reported as 15,097 for the NAB Show New York, a 6.1-percent increase over attendance from the 2017 event. The event included 300-plus exhibitors, 67 of which were participating for the first time. The AES Convention, whose exhibitor expo ran a day longer than NAB’s and whose conference program was two days longer, had a registered attendance of approximately 15,000, roughly flat with last year’s numbers, with 37 new exhibitors for 2018, some returning after periods of absence.

The AES Show is traditionally a gear fest for music production, and there was plenty of that on hand on both the expo floor and throughout the accompanying convention sessions and papers. Some of the offerings aimed at the show’s traditional audience included API’s new 2448 Recording Console featuring API’s new cross-platform Final Touch fader automation system. For processing, we saw TC Electronic’s DVR250-DT, which brings the iconic EMT 250 Electronic Reverberator to digital audio workstations.  And to hear it all, Genelec launched two new high-SPL Smart Active Monitors  — the two-way S360A, and the 7382A subwoofer.

AES keynoter Thomas (“She Blinded Me With Science”) Dolby officially opened the event and reminded attendees that music is just part of what can be accomplished with a firm audio foundation. Dolby, who is also the Homewood Professor of the Arts at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, offered a glimpse of what it might have been like if the late Stephen Hawking had picked up a microphone instead of a microscope, speculating on what non-linear music creation might look like,before moving on to adaptive music technologies in various game formats, and finally discussing “hearables” — the boundary between hearing aids and earbuds, and before closing out with a deep dive into the track that made him famous.

But the densely packed and remarkably broad conference program might have been the star of the show. In addition to the organisation’s meat-and-potatoes academic papers on topics such as transducers and signal processing, newer themes covering spatial audio were added, and attention was paid to live sound, which has surpassed recorded music as the industry’s money maker nearly a decade ago. These conventions are also an opportunity for AES working groups on areas such as networks and file transfer, acoustics, audio interconnections, and audio metadata to get together and measure progress.

The conference program also reflects a changing pro-audio landscape, however. Panels on non-technical issues such as diversity and inclusion were part of the agenda, as were tutorials on metadata as a part of the economics of being an audio engineer or producer. Practical matters were addressed though sessions that covered new-product development on both the professional level as well as the DIY cohort, where enterprising engineers could learn and even construct hardware, and write code as part of the new Audio Builders Workshop mini-track, nestled within the larger product-development track.

There were a few notable birthdays at the AES event, one of which was that of AES itself, which celebrated its 70th year. Fortunately, they had Neumann to make them feel young. The iconic German transducer maker commemorated its 90th anniversary at the show, and to mark the milestone Neumann and parent company Sennheiser unveiled a special promotional bundle that combines a Sennheiser evolution wireless 500 G4 microphone system with the Neumann KK 205 true condenser capsule.

Other major focuses of the full Convention technical program included Broadcast & Online Delivery, Applications in Audio, Sound Reinforcement, Recording & Production, Game Audio/AVAR/Spatial Audio, Networked Audio, and Product Development. Demo rooms offered an opportunity to experience new audio formats, such as the Dolby Atmos demonstrations put on by JBL, PMC and Genelec. System demonstrations were also held by brands including L-Acoustics and L-ISA, Meyer Sound, Sennheiser/Neumann, Nexo and Yamaha.

The AES Convention has paid more attention to live sound in recent years, as that category of pro audio has become a dominant force in the industry. But this sector seemed far less in evidence in fact this year with much of the hardware and demonstrations having migrated to other shows, including Winter NAMM and InfoComm and even the LDI Show which was running almost concurrently this year in Las Vegas over the same weekend.

But pro audio’s long-running fascination with its own history and legacy was clearly visible, as Power Station Studios founder Tony Bongiovi delivered a verbal memoir of his time at Motown and beyond, and at stands such as Waves’ and Mix With The Masters, which kept a steady stream of well-known names delivering hour-long reminisces of their careers, such as producer Tony Visconti discussing his long association with David Bowie at the Waves booth, all to rapt SRO audiences.

The NAB Show’s conference program, subtitled “Media In Action,” was considerably smaller and focused on content for broadcast and OTT — a sample of one day’s schedule included three separate sessions on podcasting — and its 300-plus exhibitors were mainly focused on broadcast television. We particularly enjoyed seeing the new look Fairlight post-production console at the centre of the Blackmagic booth, which now features fully integrated tools for editing, visual effects, motion graphics, color correction with Davinci Resolve 15 built-in. Several exhibitors had stands on both sides of the convention center, including Riedel, Lawo, and Clear-Com, as well as Calrec’s NAB booth’s counterpart with Digico on the AES side, both companies owned by Audiotonix, which most recently brought Solid State Logic into its mix-console portfolio. Broadcasters could also access deep-dive panels on the ramifications of the recent RF reallocation, one of which ran a full three hours and had 15 presenters.

The AES Show seems to have found a more solid footing by co-locating itself with an NAB event, creating synergy that helps both. And they’re going to do it all again: the 2019 NAB Show New York will be held October 16 and 17 at the Javits Center in New York, while the AES Convention 2019 will take place there Oct. 16 to 19.

Photo Slideshow

Calrec at NAB

Calrec at NAB

Wheatsone's LXE Programmable Networkable Console at NAB

Wheatsone's LXE Programmable Networkable Console at NAB

Richard at NAB with Fairlight at Blackmagic

Richard at NAB with Fairlight at Blackmagic

Up close with the newlook Fairlight by Blackmagic at NAB

Up close with the newlook Fairlight by Blackmagic at NAB

Limo for Jo and Bardy

Limo for Jo and Bardy

Classic Neve at AES

Classic Neve at AES

Interfacio name in lights with InBroadcast at NAB

Interfacio name in lights with InBroadcast at NAB

AES busy show floor

AES busy show floor

Javits foyer view

Javits foyer view

Tony Maserati on stage at the AES Mix with the Masters sessions

Tony Maserati on stage at the AES Mix with the Masters sessions

2018-11-02T15:09:17+00:00October 31st, 2018|Insight|

About the Author:

Interfacio provides a unique, global and specialist recruitment service within the Audio, Music, Broadcast and Film technology sectors. We identify and introduce suitably qualified and experienced commercial, technical and management personnel to our clients.