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Show preview: 139th AES Convention

Virtual reality, audio forensics and how not to run a recording session are among the highlights at AES 139in New York City

Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash, known for his work in high-end graphics, performance programming and virtual reality, will kick off the 139th AES International Convention in New York City on Thursday 29 October with his keynote speech, entitled Virtual Reality, Audio and the Future.

“Michael’s address is a great opportunity to bring awareness of VR to the audio community,” says AES 139 co-chairman Jim Anderson. “In the future, audio will contribute to this field in ways that we can only presently imagine.”

Oculus’s Rift headset, which the AES says is “poised to transform gaming, storytelling, film and much more”, can be paired with an immersive audio feed to simulate a true virtual-reality world. At last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (see PSNEurope July 2014) a Rift and four-capsule Soundfield microphone array deployed by BBC R&D gave viewers the sensation of “being transported inside the stadium and being part of the crowd”.

Returning to the convention for a second year is the Live Sound Expo (LSE), held in association with PSNEurope’s sister magazine, US-based Pro Sound News, which offers expert advice to the live sound engineers who make up 25 per cent of AES Convention attendees. With an emphasis on practical applications – from touring and theatre sound to installed sound and houses of worship – the LSE will address topics including the changing state of wireless audio; virtual soundchecks and networking; and console and microphone design and use.

The second Live Sound Expo will be broken up topically across the convention’s three days into a ‘Broadway day’, ‘house of worship sound/fixed install day’ and ‘tour sound day’, each with dedicated presentation and panel programmes.

Complementing the Live Sound Expo is the ever-popular Project Studio Expo (PSE). Presented in association with Sound on Sound magazine and sponsors Genelec, Neumann and Prism Sound, the PSE offers attendees the chance to connect with their peers and get hands-on experience with the latest tools and techniques in audio engineering and production.

Topics covered include ‘making the most of your studio purchasing budget’, ‘the five most common recording mistakes’, ‘personal networking for the audio professional’ and ‘building and developing a career’, and Prism will present its Mic to Monitor workshop series, which aims to “dispel the many myths surrounding the recording process” (see PSNTraining, PSNEurope August 2015).

AES 139 is also slated to host “the most in-depth technical programme of the year for audio professionals” in the form of four days of workshops, tutorials, paper sessions, career development events and more covering recording and production, live sound, broadcast and streaming, mixing and mastering, game audio and systems integration.

Research papers this year will tackle forensic audio, cinema sound, sound reinforcement and spatial audio, while there will be tutorials on interactive music, microphone techniques, AES67 interoperability, intellectual property and the impressively specific ‘low-frequency behaviour in small high-accuracy listening environments’.

Mark Frink, a veteran live sound engineer, writer and Live Sound Expo host, says: “AES in New York was where I introduced a live sound loudspeaker networking users group in 1987 at the 83rd Convention, and it has always been a destination for professional live sound. [The AES Convention] is the only pro-audio trade show to address standards and professional papers, while showcasing demo rooms and new products.”

“This year’s AES Convention programme is set to be one of the largest and most in-depth in recent years,” adds Jim Anderson. “The committee has put together a very timely and important set of presentations for our return to New York City with the hope of reaching every attendee on a level that inspires and enlightens them. Once again, our convention will serve as the hub of professional audio ideas and innovations for the international community.”

The 139th Audio Engineering Society Convention will take place on 29 October–1 November at the Jacob Javits Center (pictured) in New York City.