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Bell Labs, Big Bands, Live Sound, Mercury Living Presence & RCA

NEW YORK: When someone tells Harry Hirsch “You’re history,” he takes it as a compliment. Back for his third turn as AES Convention Historical Committee Chair, Hirsch has collaborated with co-chairs and AES members to insure that history will reveal itself in a lively fashion at the 127th AES Convention at NY’s Javits Center October 9 – 12. Historical Events include:

The History of Live Sound: Presented by Toronto-based Sr. Engineer Thomas Shevlin, this session will feature a panel of pioneers of live touring and Broadway sound. Opening with a slideshow reaching back before the 1920’s origins of live sound systems, Shevlin and his panelists will discuss what originally drew them to the field, its progression during their careers, and their vision of the future. The session will conclude with a lively Q & A

Mercury Living Presence: Presented by recording engineer Tom Fine, this session will trace the technical history of one of the world’s most highly regarded classical music labels. Recognized for a catalogue of ground-breaking recordings from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s the label began to flourish in the late 1940’s just as the use of the single-mic technique was perfected. Engaging pristine audio samples, Mr. Fine will trace the label’s progress from single-mic mono through the 3-spaced-omni stereo technique. He will also discuss the 35mm mag-film recording medium and detail the colorful 1990’s CD reissue program.

The History of Bell Labs: Presenter Noah Simon (NYU Clive Davis Dept. of Recorded Music) will take attendees back to 1915 when nascent behemoth AT&T initiated trans-continental telephone service. This innovation spawned a research division which evolved into Bell Labs. The bustling scientific playground was responsible for a torrent of audio innovations including the condenser microphone, moving coil speakers and mics, and significant contributions to magnetic recording, sound for film, high-quality disc reproduction and stereo recording. The presentation will employ recordings, photos and other media to illustrate a vivid timeline of one of America’s most innovative companies.

Recording The Jazz Big Bands: Robert Auld of AuldWorks will trace the rise of the big bands in relation to the development of electrical audio recording. For 35 years, these mutually beneficial art forms produced superb recordings which exemplify the “golden age” of early stereo. A professional trumpet player and live sound engineer for the big band jazz concerts at the Manhattan School of Music, Robert Auld has worked with artists ranging from Wynton Marsalis to the Vanguard Orchestra. In 1997 Mr. Auld published “The Art of Recording The Big Band,” a historical and critical survey based on his 25 years of experience on stage and on the console. He has now rethought and expanded this treatise into a full multi-media presentation covering the period from the 1920’s to the present.

A History of The Significant Technical Contributions of RCA Corp: Moderated by Cliff Rogers and Presenters Fred Barnham & Hans Dietza – From 1930 to 1985, RCA’s Broadcast Division was one of its most innovative and profitable. This presentation will focus on such pivotal RCA Broadcast audio products as amplifiers, microphones, loudspeakers, theater systems, and RCA photophone activities.

“The range and depth of this year’s Historical Events is impressive, but not surprising, considering Harry Hirsch’s range of expertise,” remarked Convention Chair Agnieszka Roginska. “He served as Historical Chair for the 123rd Convention, and he works closely with AES elder statesmen Irv Joel, Bill Wray and John Chester on the highly successful AES Oral History Project. To date he has edited the initial forty hour-long DVD interviews including an in-depth Q&A with the late Les Paul. Hirsch, Joel, Chester and Wray are currently coordinating the production of a new series of digital video interviews which are scheduled to be shot on site at the Convention.”

The 127th AES Convention will be held at NY’s Javits Center Oct. 9-12, 2009. For a Preliminary Calendar of Events please visit:

Pictured: 127th AES Convention Historical Committee Chair Harry Hirsch


The Audio Engineering Society was formed in 1948 by a group of concerned audio engineers. The AES counts over 14,000 members throughout the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Japan and the Far East. The organization serves as the pivotal force in the exchange and dissemination of technical information for the industry. For additional information visit