This month's AES Convention in Amsterdam marks 60 years since the formation of event organiser and pre-eminent audio industry body, the Audio Engineering Society.
With the AES celebrating its 60th birthday this year, the industry body is planning a host of initiatives for this month's 124th Convention in Amsterdam and 125th Convention, which will be staged later this year in New York.
"The convention team has organised a programme that is broader than ever, addressing topics for newcomers and experienced professionals alike, as well as discussing audio technology at the cutting edge," explains Roger Furness, executive director of the AES.
"2008 marks the AES's 60th year and the convention in Amsterdam is the first significant event where we all can celebrate this achievement."
The first formal meeting of the Audio Engineering Society took place on March 11, 1948, at the RCA Victor Studios in New York City. The first AES Convention and Audio Exhibition was held the following October at a New York hotel.
Herman Wilms, a young audio technology teacher from Brussels, becomes an AES member after discovering AES research data on the development of magnetic tape. Wilms later became one of the driving forces behind the development of the European AES chapter.
Wilms becomes the AES contact person for Benelux and France while Johan L. Ooms of Polygram initiates the first AES activities in Europe. These efforts result in the first AES Convention staged in Cologne, Germany, in March 1971, which is chaired by Peter Burkowitz. This event attracted 210 participants and 12 exhibitors, marking the start of annual conventions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Over the course of 60 years, the AES has become both an important platform for education and an international forum for all pro audio industry professionals. The convention programmes have evolved into complex and wide ranging events, covering a whole gamut of industry issues.
Besides the conventions and conferences, the AES plays an active role in standardisation processes. The Technical Council responds to the interests of the membership by providing technical information at an appropriate level. AES Sections serve members in 47 geographic areas worldwide.
The AES Education Committee and the Historical Committee drive many of the society's other activities.
This month's convention will boast a comprehensive technical programme that will include research paper presentations, practical workshops, tutorials and technical tours of professional audio production facilities in various locations across Amsterdam.
The Live Sound series of seminars will also make a welcome return to this month's convention.
The three-day conference component will focus on a range of issues relating to live audio production including the latest technology trends (mixing consoles, line arrays, cables and connectors) and technical aspects (technical logistics and live mixing techniques).
As in previous years, each workshop will be chaired by an industry identity with specialised knowledge of the particular topic of discussion.
Experts will include Eberhard Müller of Neumann & Müller, Wolfgang Fe from Klotz, Norbert Nachbauer from Neutrik, Jürgen Wilhelm from Yamaha, Sennheiser's Gregor Zielinsky and Ralf Zuleeg from d&b audiotechnik.
Its membership of leading engineers, scientists and other authorities has greatly boosted the society's stature and that of its members in a truly symbiotic relationship.
The AES serves its members, the industry and the public by stimulating and facilitating advances in audio technology.
It encourages and disseminates new developments through annual technical meetings and exhibitions of professional equipment, and through the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, the AES' professional archival publication for the audio industry, which is distributed worldwide.
The AES stages annual conventions in the US and Europe. Each meeting offers valuable educational opportunities, including a full programme of technical papers, seminars and workshops covering current research and new technological concepts and applications.
An integral part of each convention is a comprehensive exhibition featuring the latest professional equipment.
The AES membership is international and includes engineers, scientists, executives, educators and students whose interests include virtually every facet of the audio industry.
Each chairperson has also actively collaborated on developing the conference programme.
"The AES is the only convention which acts as a platform for all fields of pro audio, from broadcast to live sound production and recording," claims Furness. "Topics range from research papers about acoustics to a workshop dealing with old-school sound effects technologies today.
"Audio networking, file-based production and surround sound recording are other important subjects covered by the convention programme," explains Furness.
Another highlight of the conference line-up is the inclusion of a series of historical seminars, which will focus on various industry high points from the past 60 years, including the evolution of loudspeaker technology and how the introduction of compact discs forever changed the recording industry.
Online pre-registration for the convention, which will be staged at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam from May 17 to 20, is available now on the AES website, located at www.aes.org.
The small, dedicated group of professional engineers committed to the society in 1948 has grown to more 14,000 members and 169 sections in 48 countries worldwide.
To mark the occasion, the AES New York Section hosted a gathering at NYC's New School for Social Research.
The event was highlighted by a screening of excerpts from the forthcoming AES Oral History Project. Comprised of more than 120 interviews, the anthology was shot by Irv Joel and edited by Harry Hirsch, both members of the Historical Committee.
The AES plans to make interviews from the Oral History Project available on DVD later this year.
Following a welcome from NY section chair Noah Simon, revered audio guru Floyd Toole showcased the trailblazing work of Harry Olson, who presented the first technical paper at the initial AES meeting.
Toole's address illustrated how far the art and science of audio has evolved since 1948.