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At AES: Archiving & Restoration Track Looks Back to Plan Ahead At AES

By Lisa Johnston. The Archiving and Restoration track at this year’s AES has become a venue for sharing best practices, key information and more.

The Archiving and Restoration track at this year’s AES will once again serve as an important venue for the sharing and developing of best practices for mastering engineers, as well as a way to inform show attendees of the various solutions within the industry.

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While this track represents just a slice of the massive audio umbrella at AES, archiving and restoration plays an important role, because any time someone creates audio, there is a need to preserve it for the long term, track Chair Jessica Thompson said. As a mastering engineer’s role has evolved over the years, it’s not unusual for an artist to contact an engineer after misplacing his or her masters, she noted. The archiving is not always being taken care of by the label, and “a good master engineer is going to start archiving all that work.”

The Archiving and Restoration track will provide opportunities for AES attendees to learn and share such information, whether they’re currently working in the industry or they’re part of the general audience who’s simply curious how 60-plus years of recorded materials are handled. Much of this year’s programming stems from real-life discussions and problem solving Thompson has had with other mastering colleagues, while other sessions, such as “Preserving Classic Multi-Tracks for Use in the Classroom” on Friday at 3:00 p.m., are reprisals or new workings of sessions borne from the AES International Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration in Culpeper, VA, in June.

Panels have tackled both the past and future of the industry. In addition to case studies on Joni Mitchell at the Isle of Wight Festival that was held Thursday, and Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” (Friday, 2:45 p.m.), Thompson will moderate “Preserving the Archives of Major Recording Artists” (Friday, 4:00 p.m.). There, she and several colleagues will address the challenges of dealing with the archives of major recording artists who have died. It will also target those who currently work with major artists to help them better plan for what happens when they die, Thompson said, enabling them to address how they want to preserve, curate and present their recorded materials when they’re no longer here.

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Meanwhile, “Recent Advances in Noise Reduction: From Multiband Gates to Machine Learning” on Friday at 11:15 a.m. will spotlight recent advances in noise-reduction algorithms and shed light on what the industry can expect in the future for this technology.

Thompson, who is owner and chief mastering engineer/audio preservationist at Jessica Thompson Audio, is also a board member of the AES San Francisco chapter.