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AES 2016 Awards

10-21-2016 | By Scott Dorsey | Issue 88

AES 2016

Best Product in Show

Okay, I didn't actually see it in the show, only afterward, but it was in there somewhere. Kenetek is making a direct replacement for the optical attenuator module in the LA-3A compressors. Yeah, they have been making it for a couple years now but it was new to me and it's something the world needs.

Worst Product in Show

American Express Credit had a booth this year, with people actually going out into the crowd and asking people if they wanted to apply for credit cards. I'm not saying that credit is always a bad thing, but sheesh. We also got two companies this year selling TEMS devices, medical gadgets for back relaxation. Not bad products at all, but rather out of place I thought.

Moss Improved Product in Show

Two years ago, Cliff Microphones was showing a ribbon microphone with a lot of problems. This time around they have a new variant with a lower mass ribbon and a good bit more top end. It still has some pattern control issues and the null is severely damaged by the large magnet assembly, but the new RM1-B is just far and away improved from the first incarnation.

Best Sound in Show

Dynaudio's speaker demonstration. Very clean without being harsh. Rather different voicing than previous Dynaudio speakers but they spent a good bit of time trying to deal with the room issues.

Worst sound in Show

Sadly, this was heard at a technical committee where the sound system had a most annoying buzz in it which made it very difficult to pay attention to the person speaking. It wasn't so loud to be clearly audible, it was just loud enough that you spent all your time straining to hear the buzz instead of paying attention to the committee. Where is Bill Whitlock when you need him?

Loudest Sound in Show

Once again this award is won by Digidesign, whose booth produced 92dBC sound twenty meters behind the booth, making it impossible for anyone nearby to conduct business.

Best paper in Show

In Development of shotgun microphones with extra-long leaky tube, Yo Sasaki, and others from NHK and Sanken Microphones present a good mathematical model for the shotgun microphone which well describes both directionality and internal resonances and find that it fits well with the actual behaviour of their test microphone and a reference shotgun microphone. Preprint 9639.

Most Misguided Paper in Show

Richard Hughes and others from the University of Salford gave a paper entitled The room-in-room effect and its influence on perceived room size in spatial audio reproduction in which they note the well-established fact that the listener to a stereo playback is listening to the sum both of the ambience of the original hall recording and the ambience of the playback room. They do an excellent job of describing the effect and how recordings need to be made in order to compensate for it. However, they act as if this is totally new work and they make statements like "Ordinarily the assumption on playback is that the reproduction space is sufficiently treated (if not anechoic) such that no significant audible effects are introduced" which is totally, totally wrong. No recording engineer would ever agree with that statement. The notion of "mix translation" and of designing the control room monitoring to emulate the acoustics of the typical listener's living room have been around since recording began and is fundamental to the basic nature of stereo reproduction. So, I can't give this a "worst paper in show" because the research involved is extremely well-done and is actually pretty important in its attempt to clearly systematize this process. But the notion of the listening room acoustics having to be designed into the way a session is miked or mixed (often with tricks like pre-delaying artificial reverb so that it takes over only when the short echoes from the listening room die out) is in no way new. Preprint 9621.

Best Workshop/Tutorial in Show

Howard Page from Clair Brothers spoke on "Too Much Low End?", in which he described how large-scale line arrays combine with room coupling to provide a low end boost, and that if this boost is not corrected but is instead made worse by mixers who are obsessed with the loudest possible kick drum, that intelligibility suffers. When intelligibility suffers, the typical response is to increase levels which of course makes the whole problem worse. He talked about what is necessary to make the system flat, how bass extension can give a solid punch at reasonable levels, and while there was a little bit much self-promotion it seemed completely warranted.

Saddest news in Show

The announcement was made that Penny and Giles is shutting down the factory in Wales that make their rotary controls. P&G was bought out by Curtiss-Wright (of Cyclone engine fame) which wanted their control designs for aircraft applications and which had little interest in the rotary controls. P&G linear faders are still continuing to be manufactured but where else are you going to find 6-gang pots for 5.1 volume controls?

Best free Stuff in Show

Prism wasn't giving out free D/A converters but they were giving out Hi-Chew candy from Taiwan. They make their converters in the UK but get the candy from Taiwan, but you won't hear me complain about either.

Best Hair in Show

Skipper Wise


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