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The Gear Is Here. As I file this report, my feet are throbbing and my shoulder is smarting. Yet I am encouraged and inspired. This familiar mix of feelings is the result of the euphoric glow that follows the annual U.S. trade show devoted to the audio aspect of our chosen passion. I am of course speaking of the recently concluded 2011 Audio Engineering Society show in New York City, and I’m here to testify that the industry is alive and well—and has survived another week in the Big Apple.
AES is no NAMM for size, scope, or rock-and-roll factor, but there is plenty of cross-over and common ground with regard to manufacturers and like-minded attendees—otherwise known as gear-addicted musicians. The basic difference is that AES covers “pro audio” while NAMM’s focus is more on “M.I.” (for “musical instrument”)—terms that describe the respective industries of these two organizations. (We often have to remind ourselves that AES and NAMM are not limited to shows, but are organizations that serve the industry year-round, with the eponymous conventions being only a part of their business.) While it may not have the glitter and glitz of NAMM, AES does include a robust schedule of white papers, association meetings, live music and recording presentations, and other seminars that outpace NAMM's.
But the big draw at the AES show are, like NAMM, the exhibits. Because that’s where the gear is! Let the economy wreak havoc with the rest of the world; the Jacob Javits Convention Center somehow shields us from bad news and allows only good tidings—in the form of product releases, technological advancement, new partnerships, and industry growth—to filter through its glass and steel walls. Our editorial team carpet-bombed the entire show, visiting every single booth, and found only one manufacturer who professed to “not having a new product” for the show, but whose booth was nevertheless stuffed to gills with showgoers wanting to check out the internal automation system that was making its debut.
Is everyone putting on their best face for the show? Absolutely, but we can’t deny that the needle was moved in the direction of increasing amplitude. Take, for example, announcements regarding existing products. These ranged from mere upgrade tweaks to ones that were profound in their significance, such as Avid’s unveiling of Pro Tools 10 and Pro Tools|HDX. The Harmony Central team could barely squeeze by the Avid booth, so jammed was it with onlookers soaking in the demo. iZotope was another very popular destination, with its introduction of Ozone 5 software mastering suite, and Radial Engineering had no fewer than eight new products for the show, including the MC3 monitor controller. There was something for everyone, regardless of which "side you were on": live sound or recording, creative or production, or all-analog vs. totally in-the-box.
In our unscientific, anecdotally based straw poll, the HC team found consensus from attendees and exhibitors alike that this year’s show was busy and that attitudes were healthy. What tangible new business this flurry of activity will generate remains to be seen, but people were unambiguously bullish on the audio industry. In our world, we measure progress in ways not just limited to economics either. We find success in uniting for a common purpose. Or by the way we can combine old friends and new gear into just-hatched ideas that we can't wait to get home and develop further. The downside? Worrying about how we're going to scrape together the funds for at least six items on our “must-have” list that weren’t there last Thursday.
— Jon Chappell
|This Week on HC|
Complete AES 2011 Coverage
The 2011 AES Show (the 131st in the organization’s history) just concluded in New York City, and Harmony Central was there with video and still cameras in hand. Just about every exhibitor had something new for the show, and there were more than a few headline grabbers (Avid releasing Pro Tools 10, to cite one example).
Check out our complete coverage in the dedicated HC Forum Trade Show Report: 131st AES Convention, New York 2011. You can find our photos in the Official AES 2011 Photo Thread, and videos are being dropped into the Official AES 2011 Video Thread.
These threads are among our most popular, so you are invited to comment, and of course to post your own if you have them, for maximum eyeball exposure. Enjoy!
The Studio "Toy Box"
Remember toy boxes from when you were a kid? In its most basic form, a toy box is nothing more than a container in which to store a child's toys when they're not in use, instead of having them scattered across the room. That's the theory anyway.
Every studio should also have a toy box. No, not full of stuffed animals, blocks, dolls, and toy trucks, but filled instead with fun noisemakers. Whistles, small bells, triangles and chimes, music boxes and various hand-held percussion instruments can all be tossed into a fairly compact box and set aside until needed. Small percussion instruments can be relatively inexpensive and are good, affordable gifts for musicians.
|Featured Industry News|
This week's pick hits from our News section
A few of this week's top discussions from our Forums
The perfect overdrive pedal is one of the Holy Grails of effects. The Electric Guitar forum weighs in on which models tickle their eardrums and why—and more often than not include some pretty righteous pix.
What’s shaking in the Big Apple at the world’s most happening pro audio convention? Find out here—and check out the pictures thread.
Is the StudioLive cool? Given the price, what can you expect from the Zoom R8? How about some audio clips and movies on Universal Audio’s latest plug-ins? And is Geist the answer to an electronic musician’s dreams? Harmony Central puts all this gear under the microscope in our unique, interactive, in-depth Pro Review format.
Posted Here with the Sole Intention of Teasing You While I Open It Up . . .
How much is enough? How much is too much? Seems like a simple question, but like so many aspects of life, the answer isn’t.
So you’ve released some music. Are there ways to promote it other than playing live? Is it even worth promoting in the first place? The Music Biz forum offers a blend of sympathy, cynicism, and of course, useful advice.
Bass players have big amps and big instruments, so how big a vehicle do you need to carry it all around? The Bass forum has been there and done that.
You want a small drum kit for practicing and maybe small club gigging. There’s no shortage of options . . . or opinions on what would work best, courtesy of the Drum Forum.
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Editorial Craig Anderton, Editor in Chief • Jon Chappell, Senior Editor • Phil O’Keefe, Associate Editor • Chris Loeffler, Reviews Editor
Production Editor • Carrie Brown
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