Pacific Northwest AES Section Blog

Past Event: Jack Endino Guitar Recording Workshop

November 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Location: Shoreline Community College, Rm 818 (music bldg), Shoreline, WA

Moderated by: Greg Dixon

Speaker(s): Jack Endino - Producer/Engineer

 Everyone knows how to record an electric guitar, right?  NOT!

Stick an SM57 in front of the speaker and away you go! OR Plug the amp into a direct box and get it that way. What could be simpler?
Jack Endino is a Producer/Engineer with over 500 records to his credit. Among other things, he produced and engineered Nirvana's CD, Bleach.  Some would say that he's the GodFather of Grunge. It happens that he's also a degreed Electrical Engineer, a dangerous combination. For our meeting, Jack will take us on a tour of electric guitar recording. He'll explore:
* The influence of speaker cabinet design (open back or not?)
* The influence of the amp itself
* Microphone choice and placement
* Source to microphone distance
* multiple microphones?
* the guitar itself
* tuning the damned thing
* using direct boxes and re-amping
* the nature of distortion and noise
That should be more than enough to keep us busy for a couple of hours. Join us on November 7th. A good time will be had by all!

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More Information at AES PNW Section Website

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2018

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Past Event: An Evening with Ron Jones

June 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Location: Shoreline Community College, Rm 818 (music bldg), Shoreline, WA, USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Ron Jones / SkyMuse

Ron Jones is a composer who three years ago relocated from Los Angeles to Stanwood, WA. While working and living in LA for 37 years, he was the composer for Family Guy, American Dad, Star Trek Next Generation and many more productions.

Over his career, he has composed over 40,000 registered works, and is still going strong after his move to Washington — last year his studio provided all of the audio for the feature film "Fight For Space" and Ron has an ongoing performance jazz band, Jazz Forest.

In Stanwood, Ron has developed Sky Muse into a world class studio. Join us on June 20 at Shoreline CC for An Evening with Ron Jones.


Other Business: 2018 Officer and Committee Election We hold our annual election at the June meeting. This year's slate has a number of distinguished members. Your task, as a member or associate member of AES, is to choose from that slate, those candidates who you believe will help create interesting and meaningful meetings for the 2018-2019 year. Election materials may be found at http://www.aes.org/sections/pnw/bio2018.htm

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More Information

Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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Digipen Institute of Technology 6th Annual Audio Symposium

 DigiPen Institute of Technology is pleased to host the sixth annual Audio Symposium, jointly sponsored by the Game Audio Network Guild (G.A.N.G.) and the AES PNW section. This year’s speakers include Marty O’Donnell of Highwire Studios, Brian Schmidt of GameSoundCon, Nick Wiswell of Turn 10 Studios, and Mike Kent, member of the Technical Standards Board of the MIDI Manufacturers Association. Talks will cover a mix of topics related to sound engineering research, interactive music, and game audio. This event is free and open to the public.

When: 10AM - 4PM Saturday 12 May 2018
Where: DigiPen Institute of Technology, 9931 Willows Rd. NE, Redmond WA 98052
Please register here if you plan to attend: https://www.digipen.edu/digital-audio-symposium/

Event website and registration link.

Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2018

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Past Event: When Timing Audio For Video Becomes Impossible aka The Impossible Will Take A Little Longer

April 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Location: Opus 4 Studios, Bothell, WA USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Dr. Michael Matesky, Opus 4 Studios & PNW AES Committee
Grant Crawford, Costco

 Once a year, Costco holds a Manager's Conference in Seattle, WA. A segment of the conference program is a memorial to Costco employees who have passed away during the previous year. The memorial takes the form of video images of those who have passed, along with an audio track that underscores the video. The only stipulation was that the music had to be performed by Costco employees. Simple enough, eh?

This year, there were two songs to be used, Song #1, Going Home, a spiritual, and Song #2, Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen. Both songs would play against a video track that was being created at Costco HQ in Issaquah.

Going Home was to be recorded in English, French, Spanish, and Korean. The vocal would be added as an overdub, in the home country of the language; i.e. here, France, Spain, and Korea. Grant recorded a basic piano track at Opus 4 Studios without knowing the final tempo or key, and that's what was sent around to each country. Everyone got instructions about microphone choice, processing, etc. Each country would sing the entire song through, and the production team here would pick and choose what parts to use where. Simple enough, eh? What could go wrong?

Hallelujah was to be sung by yet another singer, with a small studio band. After some searching, they found their singer here in the PNW, BUT she had NEVER been in a recording studio. The "band" was guitar, bass, synth/keyboard, and backgrond vocals. With the exception of Grant (synth/keys), everyone was an amateur, albeit a Costco employee. What could go wrong?

Finally, as mentioned before, the songs underscore a video, which was being produced elsewhere at Costco, without the video team really hearing the music AND the audio team not seeing the video. A third party was calling the shots to both, to the extent that the production was evolving somewhat independently in two different but mostly parallel universes. The upshot of this was the audio team getting requests from Corporate that at such and such time, something had to happen, and the audio track would have to morph somehow to accommodate the request. This might be as simple as a fader move, but more commonly, it resulted in arrangement changes on the fly. Ohhh, of course the deadline is tighter than a  <<pick something impossibly tight]>> . What could possibly go wrong?

Come to our April meeting and find out how Dr. Mike and Grant made the impossible into a reality. Dr. Mike has still not seen the finished film (or even any of the rough cuts). 

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More Information at AES PNW Section Website

Posted: Friday, April 6, 2018

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Past Event: Roland Cloud and Gig Performer | The Continuing Evolution of the Virtual Studio

February 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm

Location: The Guitar Store, 8300 Aurora Ave N. Seattle, WA 98103 USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Brandon Ryan - Roland, Dr. David Jameson - Gig Performer

 Over the course of decades, the audio community has focused their attention on the tape recorder and the evolutionary results have become the modern Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Increasingly, the common denominator in music making has been Virtual Studio Technology (VST) instruments and signal processing gear (a standard developed by Steinberg). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Studio_Technology for more details.

Now, subscription services are starting to take over - many computer software licenses are maintained by a monthly payment. Roland Corporation, one of the best known brand names in synthesis, recently started a subscription service - Roland Cloud - which provides VST instruments modeled on (down to the resistor!) a large assortment of their classic synthesizers and other forward looking products.

One challenge Roland (and many other VST providers) have, is that in order to use these VST instruments, the subscriber has to have access and working knowledge of a DAW able to mount these instruments and use them before the instant gratification of actually playing and hearing them. The "tape recorder" has taken over the studio.

Enter Gig Performer - A VST host that provides direct and immediate access to these instruments - and any VST processor or utility. When you open Gig Performer, you see your audio and MIDI interfaces on a desktop with connection points. Right click and select the VST you wish to use, connect them up with your interfaces, and you are playing. Near instant performance gratification.

Come see us at The Guitar Store on February 21, 2018 at 7:30 for a full run down of the future of the virtual studio.

View Official Meeting Report

More Information at AES PNW Section Website

Posted: Monday, February 12, 2018

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Past Event: To Window, or Not To Window...

January 30, 2018 at 7:00 pm

Location: Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): James J. (JJ) Johnston - retired AT&T/Bell Labs, Microsoft, Bob Smith - Stryker/Physio Control

 To Window or Not To Window

aye, there's the rub!


Presented By
James J (JJ Johnston) - AES and IEEE Fellow
Bob Smith - AES PNW Section
The Pacific Northwest Section of the AES



Tuesday, January 30th, 2018, 7:30pm
Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond Washington


Our January meeting will deal with the matter of windowing in FFT analysis.

Mr. Johnston will explain why windowing exists in FFT analysis, and then show the properties of a few windows, as well as mention when a window might not be the right tool. The talk will be primarily powerpoint, with rather a lot of graphs showing what happens when you do and don't window, why it's usually a good idea, and when it's actually not such a good idea.

Bob Smith will add clarity by discussing the practical effects of window choices on audio measurements. He will demonstrate these concepts via several live amplifier measurements.

Our Presenters

James D. (JJ) Johnston received the BSEE and MSEE degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA in 1975 and 1976 respectively. JJ temporarily retired in 2002 but worked 26 years for AT&T Bell Labs and its successor AT&T Labs Research. He was one of the first investigators in the field of perceptual audio coding, one of the inventors and standardizers of MPEG 1/2 audio Layer 3 and MPEG-2 AAC, as well as the AT&T Bell Labs or AT&T Labs-Research PXFM (perceptual transform coding) and PAC (perceptual audio coding) and the ASPEC algorithm that provided the best audio quality in the MPEG-1 audio tests. Most recently he has been working in the area of auditory perception of soundfields, electronic soundfield correction, ways to capture soundfield cues and represent them, and ways to expand the limited sense of realism available in standard audio playback for both captured and synthetic performances. He was most recently employed by DTS Audio and his current status is retired. Mr. Johnston is an IEEE Fellow, an AES Fellow, a NJ Inventor of the Year, an AT&T Technical Medalist and Standards Awardee, and a co-recipient of the IEEE Donald Fink Paper Award. Mr. Johnston has presented many times for the PNW Section, most recently on the issues surrounding "Dynamic Range." In 2006, he received the James L. Flanagan Signal Processing Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society, and presented the 2012 Heyser Lecture at the AES 133rd Convention: Audio, Radio, Acoustics and Signal Processing: the Way Forward.

Bob Smith has a BSEE from the University of Washington and has worked in the Biomedical industry for over 45 years. The last 20+ years he has spent developing acoustic research and audio engineering disciplines for Stryker / Physio Control (formerly Medtronic / Physio Control) to improve speech intelligibility for medical device voice prompting and voice recording systems in noisy environments. He is responsible for voice prompting in 30+ languages. The department now handles acoustic measurements of components such as drivers, microphone capsules and system measurements including Thiele-Small parameters, polar plots, waterfalls, frequency response, impulse response, several speech intelligibility methods, etc. When he's not playing acoustic/audio monkey for his corporate master, he runs an acoustic lab, SoundSmith Labs. From time to time, he can also be found recording local musical talents. Currently he is comparing several hardware and software acoustic / audio measurement systems to assess how much they vary and to the degree they converge on similar results. noise assessments and their effect on speech intelligibility.

View Official Meeting Report

PNW Section Website

Posted: Monday, January 8, 2018

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Past Event: Distributed Mode and Balanced Mode transducers

December 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Location: Woodinville, WA USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Marcelo Vercelli, Tim Whitwell, Tectonic Audio Labs

 Our December meeting will be held at Tectonic Audio Labs (TAL), located in Woodinville for a tour and presentation on bending wave technology as used in audio transducer and system designs. The basics of the technology will be explained. In addition, two primary embodiments will be described, including DMLs (distributed mode loudspeakers) and BMRs (balanced mode radiators), with applications of these devices.

In addition to exploring DML and BMR transducers, we'll take a look at how these devices are measured. Both of our presenters are highly skilled in acoustic and electronic measurements. TAL has an anechoic chamber, with an arced microphone array, and a battery of software-based measurement tools.

Demonstrations will be conducted of the DML sound reinforcement system and several BMR based products (commercial and consumer).

Tectonic has both a branded audio business and an OEM business.

The Tectonic branded business is primarily in Pro Audio, with new products for the contractor market coming in the near future. Currently the branded products have applications in House of Worship, sports venues, government chambers, theaters, production work, etc.

OEM applications include DMLs and BMRs. Exciters for DMLs are currently in production with Lufthansa business jets (interior panels) and Wayne/Dresser fuel pumps (audio from the plastic front panels). BMR applications are currently in automotive (Bentley Bentayga and GT), consumer AV products (e.g. Q-Acoustics Media 4 soundbar), consumer safety devices (e.g. smoke alarms) and other products.


Our Presenters

Marcelo Vercelli is the CTO of Tectonic Audio Labs and owner of Chameleon Labs LLC. Marcelo has been designing and manufacturing professional loudspeaker systems since 1988. He founded two companies focused in the professional audio market segment and has been awarded five U.S. patents in the area of transducer technology and loudspeaker acoustics. Over the last ten years, he has focused in the area of near-field and mid-field studio monitoring systems, having served as the Director of Engineering at Event Electronics. For the last five years he collaborated on development of bending wave technologies and associated audio system designs, including DMLs and BMRs, while serving as CTO for Tectonic Audio Labs. He has experience in the areas of product development, industrial and mechanical design, acoustic and electronic engineering as well as manufacturing engineering.

Marcelo's specialties include analog and digital audio system development, complex active loudspeaker system design, acoustic measurement and testing, transducer design, manufacturing engineering systems and strategies, and test systems for automated transducer and electronics production lines.

Tim Whitwell, MPhys Vice President Engineering at Tectonic Audio Labs. During a 20+ year career in the loudspeaker industry Tim has designed a wide range of award winning BMR and DML transducers and systems for Hi-Fi, home theatre, professional audio, TV and compact portable sector. He specializes in DML and BMR technologies and the simulation of transducers and electro-acoustic systems. Tim is the cited inventor on a number of patents in the fields of acoustics, transducer design and haptic feedback technology.

His specialties include acoustic design, simulation and measurements, loudspeaker system design and tuning, transducer design and optimization, magnetic finite-element analysis, DML (distributed mode loudspeaker) design, BMR (balanced mode radiator) design, laser vibrometry, and COMSOL Multi-Physics FEA analysis specialising in acoustic-structure interaction and electromagnetics.

View Official Meeting Report

Directions and more info

Posted: Monday, December 4, 2017

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Past Event: The Brain-Music Interface: The Encephalophone

October 25, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Location: Digipen Institute of Technology, Redmond, Washington USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Thomas A.S. Deuel - MD, PhD

 Can our brains be somehow connected to and directly operate a musical instrument (with the aid of some electronics)? Our October meeting explores that premise with Dr. Thomas Deuel, of DXARTS at the University of Washington. Dr. Deuel will discuss his brain-music interface: The Encephalophone.

The Encephalophone is a hands-free musical instrument. It uses EEG "brain-wave" measurements to allow users to generate music using only thought control, without movement. It is based on using Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) to harness the electrical brain signals to create music in real-time using conscious "thought" control. It has been experimentally shown to work with reasonable accuracy, and is being used in clinical trials with patients with motor disability caused by stroke, MS, ALS, or spinal cord injury to enable and empower these patients to create music in real-time without needing to move.

Dr. Deuel plans to give a talk and screen video examples of the Encephalophone at work, followed by Q&A. Come and enjoy!

Maybe, just-maybe, a few folks will share a few minutes of their experience at this year's AES Convention....

Thomas A.S. Deuel, MD, PhD

Musician/Sound Artist, Neurologist, and Neuroscientist. He has been a University of Washington Acting Assistant Professor at the UW School of Music's DXARTS (Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media). He is also Staff Physician/Neurophysiologist for Swedish Hospital, Seattle, WA. He has received several awards and grants for his work, and has given several invited talks on the Encephalophone. Some of his creative works may be found at www.deulingthumbs.com

Other Business: Student Recording Competition See: http://www.aes.org/sections/pnw/src2017/

View Official Meeting Report

PNW AES Website

Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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Past Event: A Pictorial History of the Columbia Records 30th Street Studio

September 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Location: Redmond Washington, USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Dan Mortensen - Friends of the 30th Street Studio, Dansound Inc Seattle

 A Pictorial History of the Columbia Records 30th Street Studio


Presented By
Dan Mortensen - Dansound Inc/Fo30St
The Pacific Northwest Section of the AES



Wednesday, September 27th, 7:30pm
DigiPen Institute of Technology - Michaelangelo Room


Directions to DigiPen

When our friend Frank Laico told us at Section Meetings between 2008 and 2012 about his career in recording, he described a wonderful yet somewhat inscrutable place called the 30th Street Studio. It was located in Manhattan NYC at 207 East 30th Street.

It was described as an abandoned Armenian Church that Columbia turned into a recording studio where marvelous sounding recordings were made for over 30 years, and which was recognized as so perfect-sounding immediately upon acquisition that the decree went out: Don't change anything in it, don't wash the floors or paint the walls or fix it up in any way. Leave it like it is!

It was also described as a gargantuan space (100' x 100' x 100') that had perfect reverberation.

We know that a remarkable number of extraordinary-sounding recordings came out of it that we still listen to today, but the particulars of its structure and spaces were lost to demolition, and as we asked more questions the details got fuzzier.

Dan Mortensen, co-moderator of our meetings with Frank, became more and more interested in those nagging details and has been pursuing research into it ever since his first meeting with Frank in December 2008. Dan has founded a group to memorialize the studio called Friends of the 30th Street Studio (Fo30St), and has held four meetings in New York since 2012 in which people who worked there or are interested in its memory gather to discuss it and to see the fruits of Dan's and other people's research and share memories.

The truth is that Frank was remembering through nearly 50 years of memories without much physical evidence, and as entertaining and plausible as the memories were they were not fully accurate. The spirit was entirely correct but not the complexity of reality.

Come join us and see and hear our current understanding of what the studio was over its 33 year life span and how it came to be. There will be lots of pictures, not a lot of music as this is about the studio and not its product or its people. The studio story is complicated enough.


Albums recorded @ 30th St. 
Memoir of Classic Recordings with Frank Laico 
Anatomy of a Session with Frank Laico 
An Evening with Frank Laico

AES PNW Student Recording Competition

We are putting together a competition for student recordings, similar to that at the conventions. There are several categories for recordings, the submission deadline will be sometime in November, and the winners will be announced at the December meeting. The details will be posted here (PNW Website) once things are finalized.

View Official Meeting Report

PNW Section Website

Posted: Wednesday, September 20, 2017

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Past Event: 3D Sound for Video Games

June 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Location: Digipen, Redmond, WA USA

Moderated by: Dan Mortensen

Speaker(s): Lawrence Schwedler, Digipen

 Audio for video games has come a long way since the days of programmable sound generators in the early home consoles. Recent development of virtual and augmented reality for the consumer market has brought about rapid innovation in systems for the realtime rendering of three-dimensional, spatial audio that replicates the way sound waves interact with our ears and head, and with the environment.

This talk will include a brief history of game audio, definition and disambiguation of terminology, and an overview of some of the current methods for rendering spatial audio over headphones and loudspeakers. We will also demonstrate Dr. Edgar Choueiri's BACCH system for binaural audio over loudspeakers, as well as a VR game utilizing a commercial 3D audio plugin. 

Other Business: Our Annual Election will take place at this meeting. If you're a member, please attend to help ensure that we have a quorum.

View Official Meeting Report

PNW AES Website

Posted: Thursday, June 8, 2017

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