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Opening on Thursday: AES Convention Warsaw

138th gathering for pro audio professionals sets sights on Poland

Mel Lambert reports from Warsaw ahead of the four-day AES Convention, which kicks off imminently at the Sofitel Victoria Hotel and runs until Sunday.

The 138th AES Convention, which opens Thursday at the well-appointed Sofitel Vitoria Hotel in historic Warsaw, looks set to attract a record attendance, with a well thought-out programme of technical papers and workshops, in companion with an exhibition that has attracted a pleasingly large number of familiar brands.

Convention co-chairs Bozena Kostek and Umberto Zanghieri have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to arrange such a well-balanced and relevant programme of events that showcases the talents of European scientists and technologists, with a strong emphasis on talent from the Polish recording and film communities.

On the agenda on the opening day is session entitled “Subjective Loudness of 22.2 Multichannel Programs” from a team at NHK Science and Technology Research Labs and Waseda University, describing the state broadcaster plans for 8K Super Hi Vision broadcasting with multichannel sound as a new Japanese TV service scheduled for the upcoming Olympics and similar cultural events. With current loudness measurements only standardized for 5.1 channels within ITU R BS.1770, the authors conducted subjective evaluation of various programme materials and formats; they concluded that different formats differed only slightly and hence recommend that loudness values be based on current algorithms, and that objective loudness levels provide a good correlation with subjective values.

Later on Thursday, a team from Fraunhofer IIS will report on “MPEG D Spatial Audio Object Coding for Dialogue Enhancement” for both hearing impaired and a normal-hearing audience, ranging from the ability with object-based schemes to boost a commentator’s voice or reduce it to enhance the feeling of being, for example, in a sports stadium. In late 2014, the ISO/MPEG Standardisation Group released a new spec entitled “Spatial Audio Object Coding for Dialogue Enhancement;” this new paper will describe the system’s architecture and key end-user features, together with demonstrations of subjective listening tests.

The afternoon’s Opening Ceremonies will include a Keynote Speech by Florian Camerer from ORF/Austrian TV in Vienna, and a leading light with the European Broadcasting Union/EBU, who has selected as his possibly whimsical theme: “Zen and the Art of Listening.” As he writes in his introduction: “The world in 2015 is a noisy place; car traffic, airplanes, construction sites, cellphone, ringtones, music and Muzak are everywhere, with little chance to escape the constant beating of our eardrums.” Camerer advises that his presentation will “focus on raising the awareness for listening instead of hearing, for timing out instead of burning out, and for opening the senses to receive something that is at the heart of communication since millennia: A Story.”

On Thursday evening, Andrew Lipinski from Lipinski Sound Corporation, and a renowned Polish engineer/producer, will replay a 8.0-channel surround-sound recording with height that was made during a live public concert in Paris. For comparison purposes, both the Paris recording and tonight’s live concert in Warsaw will feature the same artists, as well as the same keyboard instrument. In 2010, to mark the 200th anniversary of Polish composer Chopin’s birth, Lipinski recorded his compositions in one of only two remaining authentic concert venues where the composer had originally performed: Conservatory of Music, Paris. The Paris recording has been released on Blu-ray Disc with 96kHz/24-bit, 8.0 audio with three height channels. During tonight’s A/B presentation, Lipinski plans to share with the audience his best practices and will “speculate on where a purist recording technology will likely evolve.”

Friday’s “Project Studio Expo,” a popular feature of recent AES Conventions, kicks off with sessions on: “Plug-ins Considerations, presented by Maciej Polanski,, Warsaw; “Tracking in the Box,” presented by Sebastian Witkowski, a Warsaw-based sound engineer; and “Mixing in the Box, presented by Jarosław Yaro Płocica, a Warsaw-based music producer/mix engineer.

Of the 70+ exhibitors or convention sponsors, attendees can expect to see the latest offerings from such brands as AKG, Audio-Technica, Auro Technologies, Charter Oak, DPA Microphones, Focusrite, Genelec (attending the show for the first time in a decade, and bringing a large demo room!), Gibson Pro Audio/KRK, Harman International, Josephson Engineering, Lawo, Microtech Gefell, Mytek Digital, PMC, Prism Media, Roland East Europe, SSL, Stagetec, TC Electronic and Vicoustic. Plenty of new and emergent technologies to titillate all but the most jaded of pallets.

More news from the AES Warsaw Convention later in the week.