AES Sounds Off for 121st Confab

Engineering, analog issues get increased focus at annual audio gathering


(click thumbnail)(L to R) David Harris, AES 121st convention committee workshop co-chair; Larry the O, live sound events chair; John Strawn, convention chair; Joe Alexander, volunteers chair; Veronique Larcher, special events chair; Bob Megantz, facilities chair; Valerie Tyler, master class and tutorials co-chair; Jim McTigue, technical tours chair; Bob Lee, workshop co-chair; Chris Plunkett, director of convention management; Bill Wray, historical events chair.A revamped and re-energized electrical engineering program will greet attendees at this year's Audio Engineering Society convention, held at San Francisco's Moscone Convention Center, Oct. 5-8.

More than 20,000 are expected at this year's convention--a mix of scientists, educators, systems designers, manufacturers, and Grammy and Academy Award-winning recording engineers--who will find the 2006 convention will offer insight on audio coding, digital radio, surround mixing and more. The 2006 convention also boosted some of its efforts on exploring ongoing electrical engineering issues, said AES Executive Director Roger Furness.


The boost in EE-focused programming signals an effort to reach out to electrical engineers, which organizers believe will be well served with the convention's mix of papers, workshops and master classes.

"AES has been the ideal place for electrical engineers and computer scientists to learn about audio," said John Strawn, convention chair for the 121st convention.

"The original papers on CD technology and MP3 technology were presented here at our show," Strawn said. "Now, we want to reach out to those electrical engineers and computer science professionals in Silicon Valley to let them know what audio has to offer today."

AES has not forsaken other segments of the industry, however, and will offer an in-depth slate of sessions and tutorials to address ongoing audio engineering problems and issues.

"Over the past 58 years, AES members have created a vast library of research papers documenting every aspect of the field, from digital filtering to speaker design and acoustic treatment," said Bob Moses, co-chair of convention tutorials and master classes. "The AES has also pioneered the acceptance of many important standards for digital audio connectivity... and many others have been AES-tested, examined, debated and ultimately passed into the day-to-day vocabulary of audio professionals."

One session track will be dedicated solely to broadcasters, with sessions such as "Considerations for Facility Design."

"AES continues to see broadcast to be a very important community," Strawn said.

During the opening ceremony, concert sound and recording engineer Robert Scovill will give the convention's keynote address, "Live Sound, the Heart and Soul of Professional Audio," addressing issues impacting today's live sound community.

Given the theme of the convention, "Where Audio Comes Alive," AES hopes to tap the expertise of an individual who could address the intricacies of live sound. Scovill seems a wise choice, having made live tours with bands like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Prince, Rush and Def Leppard.

"[This] list of credits sends a clear signal that live sound remains a cornerstone of the AES constituency," Strawn said.

Other sessions include "Surround Sound-Now & In the Future," which will look at ways to bring the benefits of surround sound to a larger group of music consumers and "Audio for HDTV," which will explore the ongoing lip sync problems found in high-definition broadcast environments. Workshops will cover surround mixing techniques, and a hands-on demonstration known as "Audio Data Compression," will allow participants to evaluate the different aspects of the coding process.


A master class--which Strawn expects to be a standing-room only affair--is the session "What's all this Analog Stuff, Anyhow?" Led by Robert Pease with National Semiconductor, the master class will explore the ongoing importance of analog components in audio devices.

"After all, audio begins and ends with analog components like microphones and loudspeakers," Strawn said.

AES will also usher in its well-orchestrated mix of special events and technical tours. This year's schedule includes a concert at Davies Symphony Hall with the San Francisco Symphony, followed by a smaller concert--only one instrument and one musician--at San Francisco's Trinity Episcopal Church, in which attendees will get to hear audio in full organ form from the renowned E.M. Skinner Opus 477 pipe organ.

Special AES tours include a behind-the-scenes look at the new home of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic studio in San Francisco's Presidio neighborhood.

To register for AES, visit the AES Web site.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.