AES Show Preview, Part 2: Bob Moses Talks Transitions

By: Dan Daley, Audio Editor, Sports Video Group

This year’s AES Convention (Los Angeles Convention Center, Oct. 9-12) reflects a rising tide for pro audio’s largest organization. A more broadly oriented show has embraced entrepreneurial music producers, added events focused on live sound and broadcast audio, and created and integrated training and education modules while making the traditionally more academic parts of the conclave more varied and inclusive.

Bob Moses, AES’s executive director since 2012, has orchestrated much of the show’s rejuvenation. His timing was good: aside from arriving in the post as the worst of the recession was loosening its grip, his background, which included time as VP and director of engineering at Wavefront Semiconductor and program manager at audio IC-manufacturer THAT Corp., positioned him well for a pro-audio business poised to transition to an IT base.

“It’s interesting. Before I came to AES, I was a networked-audio guy,” he says. “I worked on Firewire and with the folks who created AES67, which is about to become big and exciting. We’re on the edge of the networked world now.”

Moses has also brought in as co-chair of the show Michael MacDonald, former Harman Professional executive and now a co-principal at sound-reinforcement provider ATK Audiotek (which has done live sound at the Super Bowl for 17 years). The move, Moses says, underscores the organization’s heighted engagement with the live- and installed-sound sectors and further aligns AES with the agenda of broadcast sports.

“Live sound is far more important now than it has been, but it’s always been part of our organization,” he says, estimating that attendance from that sector is as much as 25% of show attendance. “Whether it’s a concert hall or a baseball stadium, the emphasis on live sound now is huge, and that’s reflected at the show.”

To that point, this year’s version features Live Sound Expo, a concatenation of panels and presentations on such topics as loudspeaker design, line-array theory, performance-measurement standards, and networked-audio interoperability. There is also an expanded broadcast-audio module at the show. Topics for panels and presentations include audio for 4K and 8K television, audio and HTML5, issues around CALM Act/PLOUD compliance, and audio-over-IP.

Moses says the organization is interacting more with other stakeholders in pro audio. He points out that joint initiatives with the Producers & Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy and the Digital Entertainment Group are focused on improving the quality of digital sound. “These are huge players that are working to bring back the idea that music has value and creating an awareness that it’s worth it to spend money for good sound.”

He also sees broadcast sports as a platform for promoting better sound quality and as a test bed for new audio formats, such as Dolby’s Atmos for broadcast. “Sports often leads the way in these areas, because [the networks] have the budgets,” he says. “And we also include events from Sports Video Group and the DTV Audio Group.”

This is the AES Show’s first time in Los Angeles in a dozen years, a gap Moses attributes to Convention Center schedules and to downtown L.A.’s distance from the area’s entertainment-industry centers. He reports that preregistration surged early this year and that the show is on track to become the best-attended West Coast show in six years. (The AES Show in New York City has historically drawn the highest attendance, thanks in large part, says Moses, to the density of the city’s entertainment and broadcast industries.) It will also have more exhibitors than previous conventions, including several new ones and some that haven’t been to an AES Show in recent years. The consumer-audio presence will be larger, with representation from such companies as Sony Electronics and suppliers of high-resolution audio players.

That reflects what Moses describes as increasing synergy between pro and consumer audio, at a time when some of the biggest changes in audio are orchestrated not by record labels or musicians but by computer companies and software engineers.

“These are fertile times,” he says. “We want to see where it’s going and lead the charge.”

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