2015 AES Show Has Broadcast Moments
By Dan Daley, Audio Editor, Sports Video Group
The Audio Engineering Show at the Javits Center Oct. 30-Nov. 1 marked the event’s semiannual hegira to New York. It arrived barely a week after the city’s remaining flagship multiroom commercial music-recording facility, Avatar Studios, had announced that it is up for sale, yet another casualty of the city’s red-hot real estate market. A four-story studio stands little chance against the promise of a 40-story luxury condo tower and reflects the continuing evolution — or, depending on your perspective — devolution of music production.
But there’s a niche within pro audio that especially loves it when the AES Show is in New York. Manufacturers of broadcast-audio equipment show up in greater numbers than when the show is Los Angeles (which has a somewhat healthier recording-studio ecosystem) or San Francisco (which has neither big studios or big broadcast but has proximity to Napa and Sonoma Counties).
Several suppliers brought along new products or versions:
- RTW unveiled version 3.0 of its Masterclass plug-ins, matering tools, and loudness tools, a software solution for a dedicated hardware.
- DPA Microphones showed its new d:screet slim microphone, which features an omnidirectional capsule element in a flat head, a slender cable, and a new buttonhole-mount accessory that keeps it as invisible as its name suggests.
- Lectrosonics showed off its new Venue 2 digital hybrid wireless modular receiver, a next-generation solution designed to address the challenges of increasingly congested RF environments. Venue 2 tunes across a wide 220 MHz range, houses up to six receiver modules, each covering 75 MHz, and uses new IQ dynamic tracking filters that offer exceptional rejection of out-of-band RF energy and enable very tight channel spacing.
- The U.S. premiere of Lawo’s KICK close-ball automation at AES 2015 showed the benefits of a consistent, fully automated, high-quality close-ball audio mix for such sports as football, soccer, and rugby. The system delivers transparent sound pickup with its “kick-to-noise” ratio, significantly reducing ambient crowd noise. It also ensures a consistent audio level without noticeable fades for inclusion in a broadcast mix.
Other broadcast brands showing at the event included Calrec, DiGiCo, Fraunhofer, Dolby, Shure, Sennheiser, Avid, Focusrite, B&H Audio, Dale Pro Audio, Harman Pro, Clear-Com, Riedel, Audio-Technica, DTS, Quantum 5X, Sound Devices, and Yamaha.
The show’s conference program addressed broadcast-audio issues with panels and presentations: Audience Measurement for Stream and Broadcast; Audio for Broadcast Video —Immersive, Personalized, 4K, and 8K; and Broadcast Scaled to Internet Feeds. In fact, the deepening connection between broadcast and streaming was a recurring theme of the show.
There were also some fun excursions for broadcasters, the high point — literally — a pilgrimage the evening before the show started to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Alford master FM antenna that rings the 102nd-floor observation gallery at the Empire State Building. When the antenna went into service in 1965, it marked a revolution in FM-broadcast technology: for the first time, most of a market’s FM signals could access a single antenna, sharing costs and reducing the amount of space needed for FM transmission at the market’s tallest broadcast site.
The Alford antenna at Empire would also become the model for master-antenna sites in such places as Toronto, St. Louis, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and eventually back at Empire, where a new master-antenna system was commissioned in the 1980s to supplant the original. (The original 1965 Alford antenna continues to serve as a backup at Empire and was pressed into service after 9/11 to provide emergency replacement-antenna capacity for stations displaced from their World Trade Center sites.) (King Kong wasn’t available for comment.)
Other topics covered in the program focused on streaming; digital-audio networking; the integration into broadcast workflow of new protocols, such as Dante, AVB, and AES67; and audio for OTT television.
Registration was officially estimated at just under 18,500 (no hard attendance numbers have yet been announced). This is roughly the same as for the 2013 New York show and about 3,500 over last year’s show in Los Angeles, considered good in an environment that has seen a 15-year slide of the music-recording business, the AES Show’s core constituency. There is broad consensus that the New York location helps boost attendance because of the city’s huge broadcast base.