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Mix Blog Studio: AES 2018—Let the Games Begin

The AES Convention starts tomorrow, and it’s the organization’s 145th International Pro Audio Convention. No, that doesn’t mean that the first AES show was in 1873; it was actually 1948. The number 145 is the sum of the multiple AES Conventions that have been held since, on a multitude of topics in a variety of locations worldwide. That’s a long legacy of technology.

This year, as always when the show is in New York, it will take place at the Javits Center, a massive glass-and-steel facility near the Hudson River around 30th, in a strangely desolate part of Manhattan that’s mostly warehouses, taxicab garages and car repair shops. Fortunately, the great restaurants and nightlife of midtown are within walking distance.

Read more Mix Blog Studio: Tick, Tock and Gridlock.

The show itself is always both informative and enjoyable. It’s also a lot smaller and easier to deal with than the gargantuan Winter NAMM show in Anaheim each January. While AES is usually pretty well-attended, it’s never insanely crowded and noisy. You can actually talk to manufacturers and your annual friends.

Even though the show only fills up one hall in Javits, there are always quite a lot of new products (and plenty of existing ones) on display, ranging from plug-ins to microphones to handmade, high-end mic preamps and processors. The press releases have been rolling in, and as a gear junkie, I’m looking forward to it.

Last year, there was a lot of buzz about networked facilities and interactive audio. I imagine everyone will be talking about those topics again, but there is sure to be something new “trending” this year, to borrow the jargon of social media.

AES is not not just a hall of exhibits. It also offers panels, meetings and seminars about all manner of issues related to recording and production. One panel that interests me is called “Archiving and Best Practices for Modern Production Workflows,” which is a critical and ever-changing topic. In another, engineering legend Michael Brauer will give a talk on “Mixing a Hit Record.”

Being at the show also provides lots of opportunity to network and to reconnect with friends and acquaintances from the pro audio community. There are folks that I do business with strictly by email and phone; I truly enjoy when I get to see them in person at shows like AES and NAMM.

AES isn’t as heavy a partying show as NAMM, where the bars at the hotels next to the Anaheim Convention Center are packed until the wee hours. Still, I’m sure a few pints will be consumed along the way.

If you’re going to be at the show, I hope to see you there. If not, I’ll surely be discussing what I saw in future blog posts.