On Tuesday, November 12, as part of the company’s 70th anniversary celebration, AKG hosted a stellar party at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles to honor Quincy Jones with a Lifetime Achievement Award. About 100 invited guests, including a host of producers, DJs and artists, were on hand to fete the legendary producer, and all were treated to an exceptional evening of music performance and goodwill.
Held in Capitol’s historic A and B studios, guests were treated to multiple performances throughout the evening, including DJ Kita Klane in A, DJ Austin Millz in B, Ramzoid upstairs in the Crow’s Nest and MJ Ultra greeting guests at arrival. But the highlight of the night was unquestionably when the doors between Studios A and B were opened up, Quincy Jones came out to the front row, and his protégé, Grammy-winning artist Jacob Collier, sat down at the Steinway Grand and performed three of the producer’s memorable hits: “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson, “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra, and “Give Me the Night” by George Benson.
True to fashion, when Jones later stood to address the crowd, he mentioned Collier first. Then, the evening’s host, broadcast journalist Nic Harcourt, presented Jones with the AKG Lifetime Achievement Award.
“For almost seven decades in this business as a musician, composer, arranger, conductor and producer, I have always gone for the music that gives me goosebumps. And whether it was Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra and the Count Basie Orchestra, the Brothers Johnson, Michael Jackson, the artists who contributed to the recordings of We Are The World, right up until today, without fail that music was delivered through AKG audio products,” said Quincy Jones. “As you celebrate your 70th anniversary, I have no doubt in my mind that AKG will continue to be an essential part of the music recording and listening experience for many, many more decades to come.”
The night was also about technology. AKG released its first microphone in 1947, soon after the company founding, and its first headphones in 1949. Both traditions were on display at Capitol, as the night also marked the release of the Lyra USB microphone and K370 and K371 professional headphones.
In the Studio B control room, two mixing stations allowed guests to plug in AKG K371 studio headphones and listen to individual instrument and vocal tracks from “Billie Jean” while creating their own mixes of the song, live. Other headphone stations were set up for listening to a variety of classic Quincy Jones songs.
In the Studio A control room, prior to the main event, a small group of journalists and a few guests (including Steve Vai!) were treated to a conversation about the history of headphones between Nic Harcourt and Dr. Sean Olive of Harman, AKG’s parent company. The talk started with telephony back in the late 1800s, then military use, then the advent of stereo and a consumer market, on through the confounding present need to solve the riddle of Head Related Transfer Function and deliver true immersive sound.
Olive is a most interesting audio personality; a musician with a scientist’s mind. He got his doctorate from McGill University in Montreal in acoustics, and he worked many years on the introduction of JBL’s all new waveguide and drivers in development of the M2 Reference Monitor, which trickled down to the 7 Series, 3 Series and so on.
For the last couple of years, he’s been concentrating on headphones. “Throughout his legendary career, Quincy Jones has created some of the most iconic records in the history of the recording industry, and we are honored to present him with a Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Erik Tarkiainen, vice president of global marketing, HARMAN Professional Solutions. “For 70 years, AKG has been creating headphones and microphones that empower the spirit of creativity and innovation, and no one embodies that spirit more than Quincy.”