138th AES Convention underway in Warsaw

Mel Lambert reports from the four-day AES Convention, which started Thursday at the Sofitel Victoria Hotel and continues until Sunday.

The 138th AES Convention kicked off yesterday at the Sofitel Victoria Hotel in historic Warsaw with opening remarks from AES executive director Bob Moses, who stated that large number of volunteer organisers under the able direction of convention co-hairs Bozena Kostek and Umberto Zanghieri had attracted a record number of participants – said to be approaching 1,500 registrants at the time of writing, including more than 700 full-pass attendees – and that “such a combination of great minds” makes for a successful convention.

He also congratulated the co-chairs of such a well thought out program of technical papers and workshops, and pointed out that the companion exhibition had attracted a large number of pro-audio brands. AES president Andres Mayo also stated that the highly successful Student Delegate Assembly “sows the seeds for what the next generation of audio engineers will be doing in the future.”

In his Keynote Speech, whimsically entitled Zen and the Art of Listening, Florian Camerer from ORF/Austrian TV in Vienna, and the European Broadcasting Union, related how sound is more than just hearing. “We need to listen and connect with an event; it’s all about successful storytelling,” he said. Recalling his earliest sound memory – a grandmother’s clock in her kitchen – Camerer stressed that “silence is the beginning of listening,” and that “the essence of communication is making somebody care. We need to use sound creatively,” he concluded.

During an evening session, renowned Polish engineer/producer and hardware designer Andrew Lipinski from Warsaw-based Lipinski Sound Corporation compared an 8.0-channel surround-sound made during a public concert in Paris with a live rendition of the same Chopin music played on a comparable piano by the same artists: Wojciech Switala and soprano Ewa Izykowska. Recorded in 2010 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Polish composer’s birth, Lipinski’s surround-sound session was staged at the Conservatory of Music, Paris, one of only two remaining authentic concert venues in which Chopin had originally performed. The 96 kHz/24-bit files from Paris have been released on Blu-ray Disc in 8.0-channel format with three height channels. During his A/B presentation, the engineer/producer shared with the audience details of his personal recording and production techniques, and speculated upon the directions in which such purist recording technology are most likely to evolve.

Interestingly, close to 70 exhibitors took stands show to show off their latest offerings, or are sponsoring specific workshops, including AKG, Audio-Technica, Auro Technologies, Charter Oak, DPA Microphones, Focusrite, Genelec (which has also outfitted a large demo room), Gibson Pro Audio/KRK, Harman International, Josephson Engineering, Lawo, Microtech Gefell, Mytek Digital, PMC, Prism Media, Roland East Europe, SSL, Stagetec and TC Electronic, with a strong presence from a number of Warsaw-based dealers and distributors, ranging from Audiostacja and DAVE (Digital Audio and Video Equipment) to Konsbud Audio, MJ Audio Lab and Profiaudio. As a result, there are plenty of new technologies to examine here in the Polish capital with its buoyant music recording and film community.

I’ll return early next week with a wrap-up from the AES Warsaw Convention.