Audio professionals converge in NYC for AES

The 131st Audio Engineering Society convention is taking place in New York’s Javits Center this weekend, drawing students and professionals from every major discipline of the audio arts. The AES Show is my personal favorite of all the audio-related conventions on the calendar, primarily due to its focus on technology, education and innovation across all disciplines, from studio recording and broadcast to sound for film, computer games and installation. Analog and digital audio are equally embraced, while production and reproduction walk hand in hand, creating a fertile garden of new ideas that advance the field as a whole.

While there is a clear need for shows that focus on specific areas, such as installation, broadcast, music, etc., the Audio Engineering Society convention is, at its core, about knowledge. Basic research is presented; lively panel discussions stimulate new ideas; history is served and students are mentored.

And, of course, there are the products. Given the economic realities of today, it’s natural that the AES show floor is not as large as it once was. Still, it remains a hotbed of new products and, more importantly, technologies. Manufacturers still use AES as a platform for product introductions, and it’s a sure bet that there will be a few obscure start-up companies showing off their particular brand of innovation, ready for licensing and development. Even the chip makers and test equipment manufacturers are there, showing product designers new ways to solve problems and push the boundaries of excellence.

I’ve heard talk for several years now that the AES is a dying event. I’m here to tell you that it is anything but. This is a jewel among trade shows, a place where scientists, engineers, users and manufacturers gather with a common goal of further advancing this very mature science that we call professional audio. The economy has forced some companies to back away, but the essence and spirit of the convention remain.

Besides, where else can an audio geek like me go to see a demonstration of an optical microphone or a working panoramic audio/video camera?

See you in New York!