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AES 2009 Show Report

Oct 15, 2009 3:39 PM

Given the state of the global economy, perhaps the real miracle about the 127th convention of the Audio Engineering Society (held October 9 to 12, 2009) was that it happened at all. Sure, this show was scaled down from past years, with no demo rooms and most exhibitors taking much smaller booth spaces. But the spirit of innovation was alive and well at AES. The aisles were packed with showgoers serious about the art, science—and business—of audio.

And for at least 3,000 lucky ticketholders, the place to be on Saturday night was at API’s ( awesome 40th-anniversary bash at the Roseland Ballroom, featuring the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and New Orleans’ Sonny Landreth. Congratulations API on four decades of continuing excellence!

In many ways, this convention seemed much like the delayed post-9/11 AES back in 2001, which sprung back from adversity with a smaller show but with the great vibe of AES shows of old that were held at the Waldorf or Hilton hotels in Midtown. In fact, a common topic of conversation was whether the cavernous Javits Center was perhaps a bit too large for the show, and returning to a hotel venue might not be such a bad idea. Someday, maybe—but for now, the crew of the 127th AES should be congratulated for a great show. Without their hard work and dedication, this miracle on 35th Street may never have happened.

500 Series Mania

Speaking of API, the company’s 500 Series modules have always been popular, but we weren’t ready for the avalanche of new products in this format at AES. In fact, we counted nearly 25 new modules, including the API 527 comp; Chandler’s Little Devil EQ and compressor; Foote Control Systems P3500 comp; Geoff Daking’s mic pre 500; Electrodyne 511 EQ and 501 preamp; Grace Design’s m501 preamp; Great River’s 32 EQ; Inward Connection’s discrete VC500 comp, MPD preamp and EQ P2 equalizer; John Hardy’s Twin Servo 500; Pete’s Place BAC (Brad Avenson Compressor); Pendulum Audio’s OCL500 comp; Shadow Hills’ double-wide stereo compressor; and Radial Engineering, with seven new modules—PowerPre preamp, JDV-LB instrument pre/DI, JDX-LB guitar amp emulator, X-Amp-LB reamping distro, PHZ-LB phase-adjustment tool, EXTC balanced line-to guitar effects level loop and an upgraded version of the popular Komit comp/limiter.

And the 500-module housing race is heating up. Empirical Labs’ ultrahigh-quality EL 500 holds two modules in a horizontal 1U rack; SPL’s RackPack holds four of its high-current-draw SPL modules and four standard API-format modules in one convenient unit; and Radial Engineering’s booth was mobbed with people chaeking out its Workhorse 5000, a combo 8-module 500 Series rack and summing mixer that’s packed with I/O and extra features for optimizing signal flow.

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