I returned from the annual AES (Audio Engineering Society) Convention in Los Angeles, held there after a 12-year hiatus. (AES has dropped San Francisco as a west coast convention site.) I love San Francisco, but it was great to be back in LA where so much of the music, film, and recording industry is based.
Audio quality is back in the spotlight
It was good to see that high-resolution audio was a major theme this year. Neil Young’s PONO, HDTracks, and an emerging market for DSD downloads have me excited about the future of recorded music after years of dominance by MP3s and the iTunes Store. Plangent Processing – a technology for removing wow, flutter, and other tape transport artifacts from master recording, and a technology that we have used and embraced – got a prominent mention by Bob Ludwig at one of the high res panels.
Touring legendary studios
It wouldn’t be an AES show without the extracurricular events. I finally got to visit two iconic LA recording studios—Capitol and the rechristened United Recording (formerly Ocean Way); both studios are home to thousands of legendary sessions and recordings. I also paid a visit to the Grammy Museum – small but very interesting. Acoustician, studio designer and friend Sam Berkow and I caught a concert there with pianist Judith Owen, and the legendary LA “Section” players Leland Sklar, Waddy Wachtel, and Russ Kunkel. If you are a music maker, you should be a member of the Recording Academy. Go to Grammypro.com for information.
Analog recording gear featured
Audio toys and equipment are a big part of the show. It was great to see that ATR Service Company— purveyor of restored Ampex tape machines and parts — is alive and well one year after the untimely passing of founder Mike Spitz. There are interesting developments in digital converters from Lavry, Prism, Bricasti and Horus. Audio networking is another strong trend. And the small to mid-size analog recording consoles from API, SSL, Rupert Neve Design and AMS NEVE looked interesting—a sign of persistent interest in analog consoles.
Next year – NYC!