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At AES: Being About Close Encounters on the Exhibit Floor (and with Howard Schwartz!)

By Tom Kenny. The editor of Mix shares the insights and inside info he’s gleaned from his travels on the AES show floor.

New, York, NY (October 18, 2019)—Thursday morning started off bright and early with a 9 a.m. meeting with the good folks from Celestion, Bjørn Kolbrek and Mark Dodd. They are in town for a couple of presentations, including one today, on “Horn Driver DNA.” Celestion, it turns out, is now 95 years old! And Kolbrek and Thomas Dunker have written a magnificent book entitled High Quality Horn Loudspeaker Systems, now on sale at AES at a discounted price.

It’s hard to describe the breadth of research that went into this 1,000-page tome, complete with turn-of-the century photography, early horn illustrations, mathematical equations, etc. The authors started the project in 2005, spending extensive time in university libraries across Europe and the States, the AT&T archives, Bell Labs… it’s a must-have for any engineer, student, researcher or lay person with a bent for the science. It’s brilliant.

AES: Reward for President Nadja Wallaszkovits

Meanwhile, back on the floor, I ran by Cranborne Audio, where Sean took me through the company’s USB and ADAT 500 Series chassis, with Camden inside. Figuring out the linear power on these Lunchbox-style cases is not simple. These ones are super-clean and designed for the project studio and traveling pro. Very cool.

Then it was over to Yamaha and Steinberg, where I got the rundown on the highly versatile Nexo P12 monitor, which specs out at a whopping 140 dB SPL—not that anyone wants to go that far, but the available headroom is certainly a draw. At the other end, the company was showing the new STAGEPAS 1k, a stick-like sub/speaker combo for music and speech that incorporates ten 1.5-inch compression drivers in a super-slim profile, with power and coverage for everything from corporate events to hotel ballrooms to coffee houses and small theaters. And it packs up quite nicely in a small roll-around bag.

Then I stepped next door to Steinberg, where Marcel took me through Nuage 2.1 and the coming integration with SPAT Revolution, a spatialization tool from a small company in France that worked with IRCAM research on a way to promote custom immersive configurations for live performance and fixed installations, regardless of speaker type. Stop by, for sure. It’s visual immersive at its finest.

Along the way, I ran into Jimmy Douglass, Chuck Ainlay, Chris Lord-Alge and many of the mix heroes in town for presentations. George Massenburg stopped me to say that the Mix Sound for Film & Television event at Sony in late September was one of his favorite events of recent years. I couldn’t imagine a higher compliment.

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And finally, at the Wednesday night dinner celebrating 50 years of John Storyk’s studio design career, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Howard Schwartz, a post-production legend and a New Yorker to the core. He told stories going back to the early 1970s in Los Angeles, starting with Wally Heider, with Roger Nichols as his assistant, and then working two years with Crosby, Stills & Nash—all priceless tales from recording history. He came back to NYC to open Howard Schwartz Recording in 1975 and the legend was born. I first met him when doing a story for Mix in 1990. Thanks for the entertainment, Howie! You’re one of a kind!