Top 5 Ways 2 Get the Most Out of an AES Convention
My First AES convention was in 2009 at the Javits Center in New York, it was my first time in New York as well. An Engineer classmate of mine and I saved up a little cash for the trip and we made our way from Atlanta, Georgia. Along our trip we experienced a lot in NY at the AES 127th. With the AES convention in Berlin 136th underway, I thought It might be beneficial to suggest some of the best ways to make the most of your AES convention experience. So here goes!
#1. Vary your workshops
The AES convention is filled with a lot of events, it’s 2 full days with 2 half days (the opening and closing), and there are a lot of opportunities to see a lot of things. If you haven’t been to an AES, you’ll find out that, there are many different workshops going on at the same time throughout the 2 full days, so you can’t go to everything. If you’re like me, you are interested in many different facets of audio engineering, so words from top engineers are just as important as hearing from scientific experts on conversion clock jitter and its implications on converter design. You will have to make choices, so choose wisely. I always get a lot of benefit from doing a little bit of everything. If I see a lot of subjective content early in the day it’s beneficial to end the day on some quantitative science events. There really is something for every facet of audio engineering, everything from scientific paper discussions, to master classes on mixing, to artist panels. To get the most out of the convention try to take in all aspects.
#2. Make the visit to the Exhibit floor post Grammy Panel
This doesn’t qualify as a “secret” per se, but I think it isn’t common knowledge especially to first time attendees. There are a few “Grammy Panels” where you will sit in a large auditorium and get to hear from industry heavyweights like Tony Maserati, Bob Clearmountain, JJP, The Lord-Alge’s, Chuck Ainlay, Jimmy Douglass, Bob Kramer, etc.. You probably know that many of those engineers endorse products made by either Waves or Universal Audio. After their appearance at the Grammy Panels, they always make their way to the Exhibit area (where plugin, software, instrument, and hardware manufacturers show their products). This is the BEST time to visit the exhibits, because instead of just checking out your favorite Eddie Kramer plugins you get to stand feet (literally feet) away from him and hear him describe how he uses the software and why he partnered with Waves (or whomever) and decided to make it. You get to watch Tony Maserati use his branded plugins and see how he treats them. If that’s not amazing then I don’t know what is! If you don’t head to the Exhibit area on that day, and at that time, you will miss that up close and personal opportunity. The Exhibit area is a great way to get an explanation on new products or demo products you might not be familiar with, but it is the coolest place to be right after the Grammy Panel….you can thank me for that “inside scoop” in the forum ;-) .
#3. Have an AES membership
Since the AES has never been in my area, the trip is always a big expense for me, even when using the student discounts or the hotel bundles from AES, so being an AES member is crucial. Aside from getting access to some of the best scientific papers in our industry and getting extras when it comes to benefits yearlong, you also get cheaper admission to the conventions. Trust me, the membership is worth it, and it really makes the convention more affordable whether you are a student or not.
#4. Make at least one Tech Tour Stop
Tech Tours…these are workshops where AES attendees, most often, leave the convention center and meet at an outside location. I have to say my first time going to AES, missing out on Tech Tours was my one regret. I really wanted to go to Sterling Sound to check out their facilities, but also wanted to go to a Grammy Panel, and I chose the Grammy Panel instead. I’d definitely recommend picking out your favorite stops and checking at least one out. It’ll be a change of pace from just sitting in the workshop area, plus you get to meet some advanced professionals recording and mixing at the highest levels of our craft. This is also an opportunity to network, and ask about interning etc. Don’t mess up the tour with questions, but you get what I’m saying.
#5. Come prepared for notes, and questions.
If you want to remember everything you will learn, come prepared to take notes. Attending the more scientific workshops is specifically pertinent to this suggestion. At the last convention, I attended a workshop on converters and left the workshop feeling as if I were an expert. I attended because I wanted to get a better understanding of how to evaluate their efficacy and their relative value. After listening to a panel from Lynx Technology, Prism Sound, and Mytek Digital, the conversion world opened up in a way that it hadn’t before. If you haven’t checked out my column on converters thus far, it’s worth a look. Aside from my own experience, this sit down with experts on how converters are made and how they process our sound really formed a large basis for the article.
That’s just one example of what you’ll learn and take away from the AES convention. It’s always a great idea to be prepared to take notes and to ask questions. Excluding the workshops, you will also see scientific papers published by the AES on display in the foyer of some of the convention areas, and you have the opportunity to converse with the authors on their findings and how that may relate to the audio world and where it’s going.
I hope these tips help you get the most out of the 136th if you are attending. If you aren’t in the area and are attending one of the next conventions stateside (US), be sure to take heed, these tips will definitely ring true on your next visit. We hope to see you at any of the upcoming AES conventions so be sure to stop by the forum and let us know if you are attending. If you think I missed anything that you think engineers should definitely know before they attend their next convention, you know where to let us know!
**Let us know what other events or suggestions you recommend for attending an AES convention! Comment in the forum**
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