Some reflections on my trip to AES 139th in NYC today (October 31st) while it’s still fresh in my mind…

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get there, and I’m really glad I made the trip today to attend.  (More like a surgical strike: 2 hrs driving up, 5 hrs on-site and 2hrs driving back home.  Whew!)

The only glitch of the trip was the parking lot charging me $5 extra for my “oversized” Toyota Van.  (Welcome to NYC, etc?)  In owning this car for nearly ten years, I’ve NEVER had to pay more for parking.  Heck, all the SUV’s next to it in the lot were bigger.   Oh well, small price to pay for the convenience; three blocks away from Javits.

I was surprised to find AES wasn’t in the usual “Central” part of the Javits Center, but like everything else in the last decade or so, it’s been downsized a bit, especially since 9/11, but it’s clear the strong have survived.  It’s hardly the over-the-top, overblown industry show-off party that it used to be, but that’s fine by me.   It was nice to see the SERIOUS exhibitors there, no nonsense; this isn’t an expo for the faint of heart.  To be at AES these days, you really have to have good stuff, or a proven track record.  There were MANY big name companies that just didn’t show.  (No Mackie, No Soundcraft, No A&H, and so on….a very lean experience, to be sure.)

This did, however, streamline my take-no-prisoners browsing.  I had a short list of folks and booths I wanted to see and visit, just to get a handle on what’s new, and what’s on the horizon.

First stop was the AEA booth, and right in the middle of it all was dear, wonderful, amazing Wes Dooley.  The man never ceases to amaze me.  I barely (re)introduced myself and we were once again talking like old friends.  He has that knack with making people feel like they’re the most important people he’s talking to.  He was on a roll demo’ing his new Nuvo Stereo Ribbon Mic package, and I was a rapt student all over again. The man never ceases to amaze and educate me.  I always come away from a chat with him having learned something new.  This time was no exception.  I’m hoping to review one of his new products soon, but in the meantime, he’s got an open invitation to come East. I promised to hook him up with the best Crabcakes in the world, right on the MD coast.

After that, in no particular order, was the GRACE Booth; with their new m108 coming out early next year.  (Want one!)   A complete package with the venerable 802 pre’s and a built in digital interface and DAC-driven headphone amp.  I’m hoping to get an early production model of this for review as well.

I also stopped by the MAGIX (Sequoia/Samplitude) booth and met USA product rep Tim Dolbear.  So great to see him “representing” for my all-time favorite (and indispensable) audio editing/mastering software.  We’ve got a lot to catch up on, and I’m going to be in touch with him a lot going forward.  It’s time I upgraded the fleet as well…

I also managed to finally meet in person with Alex Kosiorek; runs the “unofficial” FB AES page; he’s also  manager of Central Sound at Arizona PBS and he’s the Owner, Senior Audio Engineer / Multimedia and Surround Specialist / Consultant at Verity Digital Mastering & recording.  So great to finally connect in person with someone who totally “Gets it”.

I saw Bob Katz and said hello; we met a long time ago, but after so much back and forth on Facebook, it was nice to connect again in person.  He was promoting the latest version of his book “Mastering Audio” – 3rd edition, and I felt it was finally time to get a copy of it – only if he’d sign it & pose for a selfie with me.  Deal!

Probably the best part of the visit was running into Steve Puntolillo and Kevin Przybylowski from Sonicraft A2DX Labs.   Steve nearly lost his voice from trying to talk over all the noise (yeah, it still gets way too loud at these things sometimes!) but it was one of those perfect moments to cap off my visit.   Steve, Kevin & co. have done some miraculous work with some of our tape transfer projects over the years, and I’m always glad to send people their way.   I never understand the DIY approach people take when it’s a one-off or a small batch of tapes, esp if they need baking and TLC.  Why waste time on this when these guys already have the process perfected?   My only beef with Steve is that he won’t let ME buy lunch once in a while, but what the heck….he’s got a perfect track record so far; every time I see him he buys me food!  Can’t beat that.  We all agree he’s got the best “Studio Pic” of his production suite.  Not only does it look good in the photo, it really DOES look that good in person.

One other interesting thing this time around was everyone once again asking for business cards.  This was a bit of a throwback for me; I thought everyone had migrated to swiping show badges, but lots of folks turned up their noses when I mentioned that.   Looks like it’s back to basics again; wish I had brought more with me!

I saw a lot of “Cameo” appearances by all the audio-world celebrities; Bob Clearmountain almost bumped into me with a water bottle on his way out of the exhibits,  and earlier in the afternoon Al Schmidt walked right past me, but I didn’t want to fawn all over him.  I saw Steve Remote and said “HI” – another FB peep I finally met in person, and George Peterson sat right near us during lunch.  Audio Royalty everywhere!

It was great to see all my favorite “peeps” once again this year.  I’m really happy to have made the trip up and back, reconnecting with the people I really wanted to see.

It will probably be another two years (at least) until I can get to one of these again, but thanks to all for a great time.  I’m humbled to be in such good company!

Joe Hannigan/Weston Sound AES NYC October 31, 2015