AES Students

AES Student

On the Student pages you will find information collected and provided by student members of the AES who have been elected officers of the Student Delegate Assembly (SDA). Find out more about us here.

If you are an AES student member, this is the place where you can get informed about student related topics. Also, every student is invited to help keeping these pages a vivid and up to date resource by sending us interesting news and reports from your AES Student Section. 

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AES139 Student Recording Competition Winner Interview: Jennifer Nulsen

Jennifer Nulsen's submission received a honourable mention in the first category (Traditional Acoustic Recording) at the Student Recording Competition of the 139th AES Convention. You can listen to her work here
 
 
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? What audio field are you in?
I am currently located in West Hartford, CT, where I study at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. I am a double major in music production and technology and piano performance, and will graduate with two B.M. degrees in May 2016. I work primarily in classical music recording, editing, and production, but I also work in video post production and jazz recording.
 
What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?
My passion for audio is an outgrowth of my passion for music, which began at a very early age. Late in high school and early in my undergrad career, I began to relate my musical experiences to audio after working as a production assistant on a classical album release. Between this experience and some basic music technology courses, I found myself drawn to the union of art and science that audio work can be. For me, recording music is about creating the ideal performance of a piece or a song, using slightly different tools and skills than the musicians themselves. This challenge of learning a new skill set and a new way of listening to create an ideal performance intrigued me then and it has kept me intrigued ever since.
 
Are you a musician yourself? What instruments do you play and in what musical context?
I am a musician­. In fact, while studying audio, I’m also studying for a degree in piano performance. This has led to mostly classical performance situations as both a chamber musician and solo musician in the past few years, but I’ve also worked as a jazz pianist in trios, quartets, and big bands.
 
Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What was it inspired by? How long did you work on it? 
My submission was a concert recording for a professional woodwind quartet at the Tanglewood Music Center, and so the inspiration behind the recording was to capture the most accurate and enthralling performance possible while keeping the stage fairly clear for the performers and audience. The turnaround time for these concerts was fairly quick, so I only worked on the recording for about two days - a day after the concert, and another day before the competition to revisit the recording before submitting it.
 
Was it your first entry?
It wasn't - I entered last year at AES 137 in the same category, and received a Bronze Award for that entry.
 
What was your most significant/funny/inspiring experience as an audio engineer?
The most incredible experience I’ve had as an audio engineer to date was the opportunity to work as an assistant engineer on the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 under Andris Nelsons. The soloists and orchestra were absolutely astounding, and the sheer volume of performers (over three hundred fifty) on stage provided a new level of challenge and a simply astonishing volume of sound. The performance was broadcast to radio and to a live stream in Boston (several tens of thousands of people total), so the pressure to know the music and the technical setup equally well was high, and I truly enjoyed getting to know both the music and technology even better through this experience. Working under great head engineers also made the experience educational, as they were incredibly open to explaining the setup and offering constructive criticism as the week of rehearsals and concert progressed.
 
Accidents happen: What was your biggest mistake in a production and what did you do to redeem the situation?
There are so many times where I’ve made a mistake in a production and had to learn to never repeat it through the process of remedying the situation, and I feel that this has really helped me to grow as a young engineer. However, a particularly tricky moment for me came in a concert recording of art songs and poem recitations. The first speaker walked out and I had forgotten to spike where he was standing on stage, so he ended up standing at a great distance from the microphones I had hoped to use to capture his voice. I had to go back and remix the whole recitation pretty extensively, and ever since then I’ve been very careful about solidifying stage positions with performers during the rehearsal process!
 
What’s your advice for engineers who are just starting out?
I feel like I’m just starting out myself, but so far, the best advice that I’ve received was to treat audio work like an instrument. Constant practice and new experiences, even if you end up being the coffee person, working for eighteen hours straight, or recording something you feel like you’d never record individually, are both important and irreplicable. I’ve learned so much just by showing up to assist on sessions and asking as many questions as seemed appropriate to the situation. Also, try as many new types of audio work as possible; for me, the best way to figure out what I wanted to focus on was by learning about what I didn’t enjoy and why I didn’t enjoy it.
 
Tech talk: What are your favourite pieces of equipment (microphones, outboard, plugins), and why?
Lately, I’ve been using the Millenia NSEQ­2 on almost every recording I’ve done, as a sort of master bus EQ, because I love the ability to toggle between the J­FET solid state and Class A vacuum tube circuits. This option has been an excellent finishing character touch on several recordings for me recently.
 
Can you name one or multiple of your favourite recordings or productions and tell us why you like them/what you like about them?
I really love the Goat Rodeo Sessions album by Yo­-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Stuart Duncan, and Chris Thile. I think the balance between direct and ambient sound is incredible, and that the production draws the listener into the center of the group without distorting the sense of proportion and tonal balance of each instrument. This record is one of my go­to reference recordings whenever I’m trying to adjust to a new system or a new room simply because it is so honest and transparent in production style.
 
What/who made you join the AES?
I joined the AES shortly after I began my audio studies at the Hartt School, after my professor, Justin Kurtz, encouraged me to join to take advantage of the awesome opportunities at that year’s convention in New York and through networking year­round with the people I would meet that fall.
 
What do you like about the AES? How does it help you to become a better and more successful audio engineer?
I like the chances that AES provides to engineers to connect with both people in their own specialized disciplines, and with people outside of that realm. Beyond this, AES allows these groups of people to educate each other and together build a stronger base of knowledge and further advancement for the audio industry, utilizing the combined types of knowledge and individual strengths of uniquely talented audio engineers.
 
Tell us about your favourite experiences at the 139th AES Convention in New York!
I loved getting caught up with friends and colleagues that I rarely see outside of the conventions, and particularly enjoyed Saul Walker’s talk with Alex Case about his career and where he sees the audio industry going in the near future. I think that both Mr. Walker and Mr. Case are brilliant speakers and engineers, so listening to them discuss console and gear design in relation to the future of the industry was pretty incredible.
 
What is your favourite frequency?
If I had to listen to only one frequency for the foreseeable future, it would definitely be 250 Hz. I think it’s a very relaxing frequency, even if it can cause a lot of buildup trouble in production at times!
 
What do you do when you’re not in the studio or doing anything music related?
Usually when I get some down time, I end up relaxing at home with a good book or some Netflix.
 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m not sure, but I hope to be working in classical audio production in some capacity full­time, with a graduate degree in audio engineering.
 
Could you provide us with some closing comments?
Thanks to the AES for this award! I’m looking forward to next year’s convention.
 
We look forward to seeing you there too! 

Jennifer's website


Posted: Monday, February 1, 2016

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AES140 Paris: Student Recording Competition and Student Design Competition

 Grab your diaries, clear your schedule: the AES Convention is coming to Paris, and that means the Student Competitions are too! 

Students and recent graduates can participate in the Student Recording Competition and Student Design Competition for which registration will open soon. We want to remind you now, to give you more than enough time to get your project in shape. 

 

 

 

If advice from audio legends, exposure to key players in the audio industry not to mention a very large enthusiastic crowd, a great experience, a fantastic networking opportunity, and an invaluable career boost mean nothing to you, we also have tens of thousands of euros worth of amazing prizes (that's tens of thousands of dollars, too). 

Right: a small sample of the prizes given to Student Competition finalists at the 139th AES Convention in New York - this also doesn't include the many, many software prizes awarded that day. 

In case you were already planning to come to Paris, it would be silly not to submit your latest or proudest project, whatever it is, to these popular competitions. If you weren't sure yet, then this is one of the many reasons why you should absolutely come. Don't take our word for it, though - ask any student who has ever been to a Convention. 

So polish your best project one more time, or start an entirely new one especially for this occasion, as you might never again get such an opportunity to bootstrap your audio career. 

More information on how, what, why, where and when to submit can be found in the Student Recording Competition and Student Design Competition Rules and Policies

 

IMPORTANT DATES

Student Recording Competition submission deadline: Sunday 1 May 2016

Student Design Competition submission deadline: Sunday 22 May 2016

140th International AES Convention: 4-7 June 2016

You can submit as soon as the registration is open, so stay tuned!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: A student explains his hardware design at a very busy Student Design Exhibition at AES138 in Warsaw, Poland. 

Right: Some genius industry experts judge a software project at AES139 in New York. Note the relaxed atmosphere and the smiling student! 

 

Left: World-renowned engineers take a break from making best-selling records and dusting off Grammys to give ALL STUDENT RECORDING COMPETITION ENTRANTS feedback that will change their lives!

Right: Only four empty chairs in an otherwise packed room, listening intently to an excellent Student Recording Competition submission. 

 

 Learn all about student activities at the 140th Convention and elsewhere by following our Twitter feed, Facebook page, and this blog

140th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society


Posted: Monday, January 25, 2016

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AES139 Student Recording Competition Winner Interview: Keifer Wiley

Keifer Wiley received the Bronze prize for his Category 2 Submission at the AES139 Student Recording Competition. We were lucky enough to interview him afterwards. 
Keifer's winning submission 'Neon' is available for download on
his website

Hi Keifer, thanks a lot for meeting with us! 

Not a problem, my pleasure. 

So, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? 

I am an audio engineer singer/songwriter and composer. I currently work as an audio engineer for The Cleveland Institute of Music. At Case Western Reserve University, I study a foundation of classical recording and acoustic production techniques with Bruce Egre, Alan Bise, and Jack Renner.

I have recently completed work on a new EP “Give Me a Reason”. My YouTube Channel has amassed thousands of views and features original music videos and covers. Two of my original songs “Dream of You Tonight” and “Not as I Have Been” were featured on Dee Perry’s radio show “Around Noon” on 90.3 NPR after winning the Great Lake Theater Festival’s Bardstock songwriting competition.

I have had the honor of working with Megan Zurkey, The Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, The Contemporary Youth Orchestra, Roots of American Music, The Chagrin Falls Academy for The Performing Arts, Stagecrafters Teen Theater Academy. As a musician I have performed in a variety of venues around the eastern united states including; The House of Blues, Peabody’s, The Grog Shop, Negative Space Studios, Menorah Park, and The Evening Muse and more on a variety of recording, live sound, composition, and performance projects.

I have composed, arranged, engineered and performed original scores for several theatrical productions including Peter Brook and Jean-Claude Carriere’s “Conference of the Birds”, and Ben Claus’s “May Day”.

What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?

My passion for audio engineering began out of necessity. In 2013 I was ready to move forward on recording my first studio album. I was inspired by independent artists on sites like YouTube, BandCamp, and ReverbNation to attempt recording my first album myself. As you can imagine the learning curve was pretty steep. I ended up recording several smaller projects before I was confident enough to begin work on a 10 track album. I learned a lot by trial and error and through my exploration of audio recording technology and microphone placement I realized that I had a real passion for audio engineering, which lead me to pursue a degree in audio recording from Case Western Reserve.

Ah, so you're a musician too. What instruments do you play and in what musical context?

I started with woodwinds in elementary school and eventually picked up guitar from a friend when I was 12. From the moment I learned my first chord on guitar I was pretty much hooked. As my interests in music grew I branched to a variety of other instruments; piano, drums, and various wind instruments. It was around this time that I began writing my own songs and today I would describe my primary musical pursuits as singer/songwriter and indie rock bands.

Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What was it inspired by? How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry? 

“Neon” was record as part of the album, “Give me a Reason”. The song is arranged for two vocalists, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums. In order to fully capture the dynamic and spontaneous quality of a natural live performance, the entire session was tracked live in one take through a Pro Tools multi-track session with limited overdubs. Tracking for “Neon” took place over one four-hour session on site in a large historic church, Harknes Chapel.

What was your most significant/funny/inspiring experience as an audio engineer?

I would say the most significant realization that I have made so far as an audio engineer is that while gear and plugins are extremely helpful and admittedly fun to collect and experiment with, there is no substitute for proper mic placement and selection. In fact, having a mired of plugins and outboard gear can have the effect of paralysis due to far too many options. One of the greatest strengths of my first album is that I was forced to make all my recording decisions with one microphone, limited plugins, and no outboard gear. Due to this limitation I was never tempted to “fix” things in the mix and or throw more microphones up. I had to get things as right as I could with the gear I had. This minimal approach is also helpful to engineers who are starting off with a small budget (as I am); you don’t need thousands of dollars’ worth of gear to create decent recordings.

Accidents happen: What was your biggest mistake in a production and what did you do to redeem the situation?

I once went into a live session which required five independent headphone mixes, I had never needed this many headphone mixes before and I had not used this feature of my Roland interface before. I quickly learned that setting up a good headphone feed can be complicated and the internal and external routing can create quite a headache if you aren’t quite sure what your doing. I ended up going about 30 minutes over on my setup time and noticeably frustrating everyone involved as I fumbled for the proper configuration. At this point there was nothing I could do to get that time back, but once I got myself organized all I could do is give the most efficient session I could from that point on. Luckily the band was able to stay a little late to makeup the lost time.

What’s your advice for engineers who are just starting out?

Referring to the story above, never go into a session with any questions about your gear, procedure, or routing. Those are all things that need to be worked on outside of the stress of a session. With any new gear of new technique, you will run into snags and I can say from experience there is nothing more stressful than being watched by a band sitting in the live room ready to record, while you struggle with some technical issue. Just like a musician spends hours in a practice room before taking the stage in front of the public we must also hone our craft outside of session. When the artist is in the room we are performing and have to be as on top of our game as they are.

Tech talk: What are your favourite pieces of equipment (microphones, outboard, plugins), and why?

The most important piece of my signal flow are my microphones. I really like a pair of Schoeps CMC6 with the MK21 sub-cardioid capsules. When placed in ORTF a pair of CMC6 MK21’s can be used to mic a whole orchestra by themselves. I love to place these as my room mics for acoustic guitars and strings when I want clear imaging and betting frequency response than cardioids alone can accomplish. People might cringe a little at this next one, but I heavily rely on Pro Tools’ stock plugins for eq and compression; they have a unique color and are very streamlined and intuitive. For reverb I’m a huge fan of Altiverb, I haven’t found a plugin that rivals its sound quality, intuitive interface, and versatile control features.

What/who made you join the AES? 

I joined AES after hearing about the experiences of my peers who had participated in one of the New York conventions. After a little bit of research, I discovered that the benefits of AES for students and professionals alike extend far beyond the Convention floor. Since joining AES I have had the opportunity to meet with the heads of recording at several of the studios, and festivals that I had admired in my time as a student of audio recording. It was an invaluable experience to hear about their careers and their advice on the industry and career development.

Tell us about your favourite experiences at the 139th AES Convention in New York!

I would have to say my favorite experience of AES139 was the student mixers and the recording feedback that we received from each other and many of the audio professionals that we admired. It was truly inspiring to hear and see what my peers have been working on. There was so much talent there and so many of the students were making opportunities for themselves that I had never even considered possible; it most certainly set a fire under me to work harder and gave me some of the tools I need to work a bit smarter.

What is your favourite frequency?

8kHz.

What do you do when you’re not in the studio or doing anything music related?

 I’m really into outdoor adventuring - camping, hiking, and climbing. I also like literature and movies.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

If the last 4 years of my life are any indication, my life in 10 years will be nothing like what I could imagine now. The opportunities I have gained and lost always take me in new and interesting directions. I’m sure that songwriting, composition and audio production will always be a part of my path, I have no Idea where that will lead me. Right now I’m focusing on honing my craft and improving myself so I’ll be ready when the next opportunity presents itself.

Could you provide us with some closing comments?

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities AES and the student delegation have provided to my peers and I. I would also like to express my gratitude to Brandie Lane, Richard King, and Sean McLaughlin for taking the time out of their schedules to impart their feedback, advice, and improvement ideas to me. It was truly an honor to present my art to a group of such distinguished judges.

Thanks very much, Keifer, and good luck with the rest of your already quite impressive career! 

Check out Keifer's work on his official website, YouTube channel, and SoundCloud page


Posted: Monday, January 18, 2016

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