AES Student Blog

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



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?


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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AES139 Student Design Competition Winner Interview: James Pinkl

 Hi Jimmy. Congrats again on your achievement! Thanks for taking the time for sitting down with us. 
Thanks, and the pleasure is all mine. 
Please 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 from Crystal Lake, Illinois, a not too distant suburb of Chicago. I studied electrical engineering and recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am currently designing analog circuits for audio electronics products full time. 
Are you also a musician? What instruments do you play and in what musical context?
I play trap set and percussions primarily, but also diatonic harmonica a bit on the side. In the past, I've collaborated and/or played with jazz combos, drum lines, university wind ensembles, singer songwriters, trap producers and rappers, and blues bands.
My current musical focus is writing/playing/recording with a math rock group - I'm interested in the way odd time signatures can connect in unexpected ways. I also have a passion for free jazz and free improvisation. These experimental sounds and approaches are so heady in Chicago, I don't think there's any music scene in the world quite like it.
Tell us about your project and its development process. What was it inspired by? 
The Voice Grip is a wireless vocal controller and effects circuit, meant to provide users with a more seamless way to expand the timbre of their voice. The design process included analog circuits, microcontroller coding, and pcb layout (more technical downloadable write up on this here). 
The idea came about while I was brushing my teeth listening to the album Strawberry Jam by Animal Collective. Member Avey Tare has been an incredible inspiration for me, particularly his vocal style. I feel like I could see Avey using something like the Voice Grip.
Was it your first entry?
It wasn't - it took three years, three conventions, and three separate designs til I placed as a finalist.  
Above: Jimmy prototyping the Voice Grip in the lab.
Tech talk: What are some recent favourite pieces of equipment and why?
I recently visited the Earthquaker Devices office and picked up the Rainbow Machine guitar pedal. Something new always seems to happen while messing around with it. It's particularly challenging for me to not sound like an absolute madman while using one, especially considering my sound source is a 10-hole harmonica. 
I've also recently grown fond of Shure KSM141s. I've been getting great results using a pair as drum overheads when home recording my drum kit, which includes an old Ludwig 26"inch bass drum, a Camon Legend snare drum, and an Iron Cobra single bass pedal (the exact pedal previously owned by Zach Hill).
Lastly, I also just acquired a DL4 smart switch circuit from Schoolcraft Specialties. The mod has been making waves across guitar pedal forums as it solves a very common problem while remaining intuitive for the user. It's been working great for me, definitely worth checking out. 
What are some of your favourite recordings or productions?
At the moment, some favorites that come to mind are Strawberry Jam (Animal Collective), Jenny Death (Death Grips), Swing Lo Magellan (Dirty Projectors), Listen to the Music (Shiggy Jr.), and Mojo Boogie (blues.the-butcher-590213). 
My favorite motion picture soundtrack recordings are Man of Steel and Jurassic Park.
What/who made you join the AES? 
The engineering college I attended had many outlets for students interested in robots or aeronautics, but I thought there was opportunity for audio resources to expand.
I spent the first two years of my undergraduate studies trying to get an audio related student group going. My approach was more about starting something new, I don't think it really occurred to me that a group as big as the AES was out there. I remember names like the ‘Cloud Sound Society’ and the ‘Progressive Soundwork Society’ coming up via brainstorming, haha.
Fastforward to the tail end of my second year, and I and a good friend/classmate of mine were finally able to do it right. He had previously heard and told me all about the AES, and pursuing a student chapter seemed like the most effective approach. 
We really owe the rapid bring up of the group to the many supportive professors of the UIC Electrical Engineering department - throughout the years, they have opened many doors for us and have funded students to attend the design competitions.
So in short, I actually joined the AES while simultaneously creating an AES student section.
What do you like about the AES? How does it help you become a better and more successful electrical engineer?
The AES Conventions are a definite standout. The product development seminars, workshops, and product demonstrations provide opportunity for significant growth. I always get new ideas and inspiration at the conventions.
Additionally, the Chicago Chapter is a very active group and I am able to attend similar talks locally every month.
Above: Jimmy wins a Gold award for his design during the second Student Delegate Assembly meeting.
Tell us about your favourite experiences at the 139th AES Convention in New York!
Aside from the design competition, I spent a lot of time interacting with this year’s poster session presenters. This time around I learned a lot on spatial audio and audio perception. I feel I may finally be at a point where I can have a meaningful discussion with those on the cutting edge, which is pretty exciting! 
What do you do when you’re not doing anything music or circuit related?
Outside of music, I spend my time checking out other art mediums such as standup comedy, comic strips, and independent video games. I think it's awesome to realize any common ground between these art forms and music. Louis C.K. interviews, The Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book, and Indie Game: The Movie are all great insights for this. 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Continuing to design audio equipment of ‘legendary performance.’ I am in a good place gaining experience in both product development and analog circuitry. I don’t believe there’s a substitute for learning by doing and when you’re doing what you’re passionate about, how can you go wrong? 
On that great final note we wish you all the best for the rest of your career, and a lifetime of doing what you're passionate about. Thanks Jimmy! 

Posted: Monday, January 11, 2016

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AES139 Student Recording Competition Winner Interview: Daniel Davidsen

 Daniel Davidsen won the gold prize in Category 2 (Traditional Studio Recording) for his recording of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians (listen to it here). 

·     Hi Daniel. Kudos on such an impressive recording, and thanks a lot for making time for us.

My pleasure.

·      Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? What audio field are you in? 

I was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark. Music has shaped my life for as long as I can remember. I study at the The Royal Danish Academy of Music. In 2015, I earned a Bachelor's degree in music & sound recording (Tonmeister) and currently I am pursuing my master studies. 

·      Are you a musician yourself? What instruments do you play and in what musical context?

I started playing piano and trumpet at an early age, and I have played in brass band, big band and military marching band ensembles. In the years 2003-2007 I joined the European Brass Band Championships.

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

My passion for audio started quite unusually. I did arrangements for my Brass Quintet at the time and used the notation program Finale, but I didn’t like the horrible MIDI sounds coming out of it.

That triggered my interest in DAW’s and I ended up purchasing Pro Tools. From there I slowly began recording music. 

After my high school graduation I realized that a career as a musician was not for me. I started working with Pro Tools and Logic and studying musicology at the University of Copenhagen. When I got my BA in 2011, my career dream was in the field of audio. Since then, my main platform has changed to Pyramix.

·      Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What was it inspired by? 

Music for 18 Musicians is one of Steve Reich's greatest and most difficult-to-play compositions, which was performed by an international team of handpicked professional musicians at Roskilde Festival in 2013. The ensemble's name is EKKOZONE and it was formed in 2013 by the Danish percussionist Mathias Reumert. The recordings were made during rehearsals and only intended for documentation purposes. The recorded source material is rather limited and only 1 1⁄2 take were usable at the end of the final recording day. It was only possible to obtain a satisfying musical result because of the highly repetitive musical structure. Many bars have been replaced with sometimes only a few useful figures that were available. It was all about making it organic and alive. 

·      How long did you work on it? 

The editing took around 80 hours for the whole piece which is around one hour long. 

·      Was it your first entry in an AES Student Competition?

Yes, it was.

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

I enjoy communicating with musicians and composers and I’m very interested in the psychological aspects of the recording sessions. You really need to know the right way to communicate in order to get the best out of your clients and make them feel comfortable. Trust is everything.

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

One morning I discovered that cables were removed for another project. I had to reschedule the recording, which made me look very dumb.

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

To gain work experience and volunteering, to study abroad and to gain 10,000 hours of passionate practice. Good preparation  before a session is everything. Learn from your mistakes and keep asking yourself "How can I make it better?".

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

Horus (Merging) - Very transparent mic pre’s and the heart of my productions for many years to come. Absolutely world class.

The Coles 4038 Ribbon microphone - Those mics give me the intimacy and warmth, which is something that can really define a good recording.

Josephson C617 - My favourite omni mics by far. Very real and balanced mic that imparts this silky smoothness.  

·      Can you name one or multiple of your favourite recordings or productions and tell us why you like them/what you like about them?

Because of my background, I always listen to the musical content first, and then the recording quality. It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite recording. It would not be fair to the very long list.

·      What/who made you join the AES? 

I have studied one year at the Cleveland Institute of Music. The teacher encouraged us to join the AES. 

·      What do you like about the AES? How does it help you to become a better and more successful audio engineer?

AES helped me to build a very valuable network and get inspired to keep pursuing my dream. That is exactly what I love about the AES. You get to meet colleagues from all over the world with the same passion for art. 

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

It was such a pleasure to meet old friends, listening to the work from other students and hear anecdotes from inspiring people like Jack Douglas and Frank Filipetti. 

·      What is your favourite frequency?

I have no favourite frequency other than good intonation. My absolute pitch is helpful during all working processes.

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

My prime outside interest is extra-cultural experiences and curiosity and spending time with family and love ones. I also enjoy having friends worldwide and have a passion for culture.

·      Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

It is my ambition to combine job types (production, recording, editing, mixing). It is also my ambition for the future to participate in international projects and to extend my work into non-classical categories with creative opportunities.

·      Thanks so much for the interview, Daniel, and congratulations again on your excellent submission. We hope to see you again soon! 


Get in touch with Daniel via Facebook or LinkedIn

Posted: Monday, January 4, 2016

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AES139 Student Recording Competition Winner Interview: Nick Lobel and Jesse Brock

Nashville-based Nick Lobel and Jesse Brock (Student Recording Competition Category 3 Silver Award winners) talk shop, AES, and more. 


· Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? What audio field are you in?

[JB]: My name is Jesse Brock. Technically I am from Huntsville, Alabama.  However, since all of my memories are in Nashville, Tennessee I consider it my home. I study Audio Engineering in Nashville at Belmont University and tracking is my focus.

[NL]: I’m originally from Kalamazoo, MI. I moved to Nashville, TN in 2013 to study audio engineering at Belmont University. Lately, I’ve been focused on production and mixing, but I love learning about the whole spectrum of audio-related fields!

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

[JB]: Being a musician first I have always been looking for ways to enhance my musicianship. I was originally a music major. After a year in that program, I decided I needed to find other avenues to better myself as a musician. I selected Audio Engineering Technology (AET) as my declared major without much thought. Taking a musical approach to engineering has really helped me enjoy my path. It is through this practice that I have developed a love for engineering.

[NL]: I fell in love with music as a kid and starting taking guitar lessons at a young age, maybe 9 or 10. In middle school I played in my first band, a garage rock outfit called Skag Nasty! I quickly realized that I needed a way to record the riffs and melodies I was writing. I saved up and got a little Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. That was really the start of my recording experience, but it wasn’t until later that realized I could pursue audio full-time as a career.

· What instruments do you play and in what musical context?

[JB]: I am the lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary writer for the band Lines in the Sky. I was trained on piano and can play bass, marimba, some drums, and the kazoo. I primarily write progressive music with Lines in the Sky. It is centered around a contemporary structure but incorporates influence from many different genres.

[NL]: My main instrument is guitar, and I’ve played in a handful of bands through the years. I’d really love to learn piano and drums!

Above: Jesse's band Lines in the Sky


· 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?

[JB]: The track used for the submission was called “New Season” and is a Christmas single for my band, Lines in the Sky. We were asked by our management team halfway through 2015 to put together something for Christmas. We put the song together over the next several months and recorded it at several various places. These included the Columbia A facility provided by Belmont University and my house! We had around five sessions total for this song over the course of two weeks. Nick mixed the song over the course of a week or so. This was my first entry to the contest and also my first time coming to an AES convention. It was quite the experience.

The song itself deals with complex feelings on the Christmas season in general. We wanted to make it aware to people how silly and self-serving things have become and challenge the listener to explore new meanings for Christmas. You can check out the video for the track here

[NL]: I had a blast mixing this track! Jesse did a great job with the initial tracking and getting great performances. Bo Brock is one of my favorite drummers and his performance on this track is stellar! My goals for the mix were to simply enhance what was already there and create some interesting/exciting moments throughout.

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

[JB]: Funny: I once heard a student ask an A list engineer “What is a ‘diaphragm condenser’?” I wanted to facepalm.

Inspiring: Early on, I had an engineer tell me to focus more on the initial performance and to avoid more editing in the box. Instead of focusing on undo embrace redo. It is a simple tracking concept but sometimes just another take is all you need. This initial realization rocked my world.

Significant: Uhm...not sure!

[NL]: Funny: Recording my friend Stephanie’s “mouth-made” sound effects of a drone flyby and explosion for a recent sound for picture project.

Inspiring: The artists I work with constantly inspire me. Lines in the Sky is one of my favorite bands, so getting to mix one of their songs was a huge honor and privilege! If I can help capture the artist’s intended vibe and create a strong reaction that’s super inspiring to me!

Significant: Since moving to Nashville I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and experiences that it’s hard to say which is most significant. Some of the highlights have been interning at Station West and Toy Box Studios, participating in the Bonnaroo Hay Bale Studio, and learning from awesome mentors like Lij Shaw, Joe Baldridge, and all of the audio professors at Belmont.

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

[JB]: In class, I accidentally trashed a mix session for a project. I didn’t realize it until I got back to the house. I thought I was going to throw up. I booked another session and got the project in on time. I learned a valuable lesson that day about double-checking my allocation and backups.

[NL]: I’ll echo Jesse’s advice about backups. I once had a hard drive fail and take down a handful of client projects with it. I hadn’t backed up in a couple weeks a lot of data had amassed on the failed drive. In the end I had to bite the bullet and pay to have the data restored in a clean room facility. I got very serious about backups and data redundancy after that!

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

[JB]: Considering I am still getting my feet wet with engineering I don’t have much to offer. However, I think it is valuable to be comfortable with your abilities and not get too big of a head trying to make yourself look qualified. It is important to meet opportunities head on but with an appropriate attitude. However, I see countless AET students come into the Belmont program who think they are the next big thing. In reality, it is all smoke. Professionals can see right through you and will remember it. It’s a pride thing. Never be afraid to ask a question. If it hurts your pride to ask then you have some serious personal issues that you have to sort out.

[NL]: I think communication is super important. Whether you’re working for a brand new artist or an A-list producer, communication is the key to building trust and lasting relationships. Clarify expectations and resolve misunderstandings early. You don’t want your clients to have any doubts or uncertainties about the process.

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

[JB]: Plugin: C4 multiband compressor. The thing shreds and is super intuitive.

Microphone: SM7. Shreds.

Outboard: Man...that API 2500 is great. Super versatile compressor. It also shreds.

[NL]: Plugin: The Waves SSL 4000 Collection is awesome! I use the channel strip plugins on virtually every mix. The Sound Toys collection is incredible! FabFilter’s stuff is amazing as well.

Microphone: I love the AEA R88 on drum overheads and rooms

Outboard: UA 1176

· Can you name one or multiple of your favourite recordings or productions and tell us why you like them/what you like about them?

[JB]: I freaking love the sound of 10,000 days from Tool. I have no idea how they got those sounds. I haven’t done any research on that album but it blows my mind every time I listen to it.

Recently, I have been listening to The Weeknd’s new album, Beauty Behind the Madness. The production is incredible. In particular, there is a track called ‘Acquainted’ that has some incredible programming. Some great people worked on that record.

[NL]: Annuals – Count The Rings. They have these incredibly dense orchestrations and arrangements with complex layered rhythmic elements, but somehow everything fits together and has its own space. Everything about that record from the writing to the engineering and mixing is inspiring to me both technically and creatively.

Above: Nick Lobel with Belmont University audio professors Wesley Bulla Ph.D. (left) and Eric Tarr Ph.D. (right). Nick also presented some research on new methods to archive analog tape recordings at the AES139 Convention - more info here


· What/who made you join the AES?

[JB]: Nick Lobel. Haha. But for real though, I wanted to come check out the situation. I have never been to AES and I figured this would be the year to try it out!

[NL]: In my second semester at Belmont I was elected to the AES leadership committee for our chapter. This was hugely beneficial both personally and professionally. It gave me a platform to network with top industry professionals and share my passion and interests with a larger audience!

· What do you like about the AES? How does it help you to become a better and more successful audio engineer?

[JB]: The academic seminars were probably the most enlightening. It’s refreshing to see some good SCIENCE going into the field of audio. I also enjoyed meeting some of the game audio people. I am very interested in this field of audio.

[NL]: AES is one of the best resources available for aspiring audio engineers. And given the large number of chapters throughout the world, it is really easy to get involved. Like any professional organization, you get out what you put in. Over the last two years, I’ve invested a lot of time in the Belmont AES Chapter and it has truly paid off both personally and professionally.

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

[JB]: It was super cool meeting so many people from across the globe!

It was a pleasure getting to meet Winifred Phillips! (Composer for ‘Little Big Planet’ game franchise)

[NL]: I enjoyed nerding out over the 3D audio and immersive sound lectures!

· What is your favourite frequency?

[JB]: 10k. It sounds nice! Especially on vocal parallel compression.

[NL]: Haha...I don’t know. Maybe 60 Hz!

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

[JB]: I’m usually reading about Star Wars. Seriously...I am a HUGE nerd. You think you know about cannon? Come at me bro!

I really spend most of my time writing and learning about audio tricks. It is my passion and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Other than that, I’m either hanging with the team or my girlfriend.

[NL]: I love to cook! I don’t have any formal training, but there are a few chefs and cooking blogs I follow. Learning recipes is like covering songs...once you’ve got it down you can add your own flavor and make it unique. Other than that, I love exploring Nashville with my beautiful girlfriend and hanging out with our two cats, Terry and Catsy Cline.

· Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

[JB]: I hope to be producing and writing with either a publishing deal or my own production group.

[NL]: Producing and mixing full-time.

· Could you provide us with some closing comments?

[JB]: My experience at AES was incredibly eye-opening and overall positive! I have never been in the same place as so many legendary professionals. Getting to see all the different areas of the field of audio really helped my broaden my scope of potential career directions. I hope to come back next year!

[NL]: It was a huge honor to participate in the recording competition and represent my school! The Convention program was incredible with so many awesome seminars and eye-opening lectures! Really hope to continue participating in AES and attending the conventions!

· We look forward to seeing you next year then! Thanks so much for your time, and all the best for your respective careers. Happy holidays! 


Follow Lines in the Sky on Facebook and check out their website; and have a look at Nick Lobel's personal website

Lines in the Sky 'New Season' on YouTube

Posted: Monday, December 28, 2015

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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - iZotope

 iZotope makes innovative products that inspire and enable people to be creative. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, iZotope has spent over a decade developing award-winning products and audio technologies for professionals and hobbyists alike. Used by millions of people in over 50 countries, iZotope products are a core component of GRAMMY-winning music studios, Oscar and Emmy-winning film and TV post production studios, and prominent radio studios, as well as basement and bedroom studios across the globe. Through a robust licensing program, iZotope also powers products made by industry partners such as Adobe, Avid, Microsoft, and Sony. iZotope was recently honored with an Emmy® Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for its flagship audio repair suite, RX®.

iZotope gave one or two amazing software prizes to ALL Student Recording Competition winners, including several copies of Ozone, Nectar Production Suite, Alloy, Trash, and RX5!

iZotope website

Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2015

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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - DIY Recording Equipment

 Peterson Goodwyn began building his own audio gear in 2008 for one simple reason: he couldn’t afford to buy it. In 2011 he founded DIY Recording Equipment with the vision of making excellent audio equipment affordable and accessible to anyone who was willing to pick up a soldering iron. Since then, DIYRE has enabled thousands of musicians and engineers to build their own equipment, through hundreds of DIY tutorials, designs, and blog posts.

DIYRE donated an L2A Reamplifier kit and a Primary Colours Bundle to lucky finalists of the Student Competitions! 



DIYRE website

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2015

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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - Real Industry

 Real Industry is an online course and mentorship network to educate students on the roles and needs of the music and audio technology industry, in preparation for upcoming internships and full-time jobs. Students learn about the tools, teams, and skills behind leading how products go from ideation through mass commercialization at companies like Adobe, Pandora, Sonos, Smule, Universal Audio, LANDR, iZotope, and more!

Our first FREE course "Careers in Media Technology" is available now. Sign-up at Careers in Media Technology provides an overview of the media technology products industry, including the markets and companies, and introducing the roles of software engineering, user experience, product design, and program management. 
If you are ready for a career in industry, then continue on for our next course "Inside the Music & Video Tech Industry".  Building upon "Careers in Media Technology," we explore research and development, hardware engineering, industrial design, marketing, intellectual property, advanced topics in software engineering, and HR / interviewing fundamentals!
Our course also works to place students directly into internships at leading media creation and technology companies.   
Real Industry gave away 3 One Year memberships ($199 value per membership) to winners of the Student Design Competition! 

Real Industry website

Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2015

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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - Women's Audio Mission

Women's Audio Mission is a San Francisco-based, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts. In a field where women are chronically under-represented (less than 5%), WAM seeks to "change the face of sound" by providing hands-on training, experience, career counseling and job placement to women and girls in media technology for music, radio, film, television and the internet. WAM believes that women's mastery of music technology and inclusion in the production process will expand the vision and voice of media and popular culture. WAM trains over 1,200 women and girls a year in music production and the recording arts in the world's only professional recording studio built and run by women. 

Follow WAM on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (womensaudiomission) or their website

Long time sponsor Women's Audio Mission gave away five SoundChannel accounts to these winners of the Student Recording Competition! 

WAM website

Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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AES - Audio Engineering Society