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Mix Blog Live: The Weirdest AES Show Ever

Steve La Cerra went online instead of driving into Manhattan this year for the AES Show Fall 2020, and he found a wealth of excellent papers and presentations, but he does miss his friends and colleagues.

A few days ago, my friend Sam texted me with a message saying, “We should be at AES!” Indeed, we should have been, as has become habit every October the AES Show is in New York. It’s a welcome excuse to hang, see friends, and pick brains on the show floor. But this year Covid-19 reared its ugly head, derailing the normalcy of life and changing the rules. The AES Show Fall 2020, no exception to the influence of the pandemic, was forced online.

The AES Show Fall 2020 is offering a wide scope of events presented via live stream. This week features a Marquee Event with Imogen Heap (October 28), a Keynote Event with Finneas (October 29), and a Keynote Event with Jackson Browne (October 30).

More than 60 workshops are available on demand, with subjects as diverse as Vinyl Mastering Demonstration (presented by Jim Kaiser and Margaret Luthar), to The Best Hall for Beethoven is in Japan (Ulrike K. Schwarz and Akira Fukada, presenters), to Wireless Microphone and Intercom Spectrum Update (presented by Karl Winkler and Joe Ciaudelli). The one thing I really like about the online format is that the on-demand option sidesteps the scheduling conflicts that inevitably arise.

Papers and e-briefs available on-demand include Design and Validation of a Low-cost Acoustic Anechoic Chamber (Bram Cuyx, Wim Desmet, Wim Buyens and Toon van Waterschoot, authors); I’m All Ears: What Do Untrained Listeners Perceive in a Raw Mix Versus a Refined Mix? (Kelsey Taylor); and Effect of Flaring and Bending Ports on Port Mass and Port Resistance (Andri Bezzola, Glenn S. Kubota and Allan O. Devantier, authors). That’s just a scratch in the surface of almost 90 technical papers available for study.

Read more Mix Blog Live: Business As Unusual.

Roundtable discussions planned for this week include Diversity and Inclusion, Hip Hop & R&B, Networked Audio, and an Audio Builder’s Workshop. There’s still time for you to drop in on these without leaving the cozy comfort of your home. Live streaming starts today, which is the first day of the AES Show Technical Program. All Access registration will be required to view both the live streamed and on-demand content; you can register here.

Meeting with manufacturer reps in-person is always a highlight of the show for me, not just for reconnecting and having a visit, but also for the spontaneous Q&A that often results from a booth visit. In lieu of booths, many manufacturers have produced video content for the show, delivered via the AES website—a feature I find to be a refreshing alternative to the “seek and destroy” of a web search, whereby you often encounter unofficial presentations of a product, as opposed to getting the info directly from the horse’s mouth.

Some manufacturers have even created welcome messages and invited attendees to chat live or use Zoom to set up live meetings. Other manufacturers have scheduled Zoom sessions to demo their products, a clever way of spreading the word.

Attending the show online is a very efficient means of connecting with the audio industry, but it does lack the immediacy of being there in-person. Let’s face it, half the fun of a trade show is running into a friend you haven’t seen for years, making a lunch date to get some business done, or picking the brains of the tech wizards who always seem to be willing to share their knowledge. I’ll look forward to that aspect at the next AES Show, which hopefully can happen in-person in a post-Covid world. In the meantime, I’ll revel in the fact that my feet aren’t aching.