AES Student Blog


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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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - Linear Audio

  Linear Audio publishes technical articles about technology, developments and the state of the art in audio and perception from a technical perspective.  

It is meant for anyone who is interested in technical audio developments or who wants to contribute. Being employed in audio engineering is not a requirement. 


Above: some lucky Student Design Competition finalists show off their recently acquired Linear Audio prizes.

Below: Linear Audio's Jan Didden announces the second Linear Audio issue to feature an article on a Student Design Competition submission: Zachary Weiss's 'Intuitive Time Delay Spectrometry'. 


Linear Audio website

Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2015

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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - THAT Corporation

 THAT Corporation, founded in 1989, designs and sells high-performance analog integrated circuits for professional audio manufacturers. THAT’s ICs include analog input and output stages, low-noise preamplifiers, and its original line of voltage-controlled amplifiers (VCAs) and RMS-level detectors – all used throughout the pro audio industry. The company also licenses patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property to the TV broadcast and reception industries. Under the dbx-tv® brand name, THAT offers Total Sonics™, Total Surround™, and Total Volume™, TV audio enhancement technology and digital (Verilog®) implementations of legacy TV audio receiver standards covering all parts of the world, including BTSC, A2, NICAM, and EIA-J. The company is headquartered in Milford, Massachusetts, with offices in Tokyo, Japan and Milpitas, California.

THAT Corporation website

Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015

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AES139 | Many thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - Mathew Lane

 Mathew Lane audiotools are innovative new solutions, created when no other hardware or software could be found suitable for the task.
The DrMS spatial processor is Mathew Lane's first product, already widely accepted by audio professionals as a unique plugin. It's being used by top producers and engineers on songs by well known artists such as Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay and many others. Legendary mix engineer Dave Pensado is a fan and has been showing the use of DrMS on several of his Pensado's Place Into The Lair videos.
DrMS is a unique spatial processor, available as AAX/RTAS/AU/VST plugin, with a wide range of applications for mixing, mastering and post production - going from simple MS (Mid-Side) encoding/decoding, over stereo field width and depth enhancement, to fixing mono compatibility issues and more.
You can find Mathew Lane and his DrMS plugin at:
Mathew Lane generously awarded license codes to his famous DrMS spatial processing plugin, to these lucky Student Recording Competition winners! 

Posted: Saturday, December 5, 2015

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AES 139 | Thanks to our Fantastic Sponsors - Acustica Audio

 Since the birth of Nebula in the summer of 2005, a dynamic collaboration was born between forward thinking developers, beta testers, audio engineers and equipment samplers from around the world. The research and development has gone through many stages and possesses innovative processes and technologies as of yet unheard of in other products or devices.
The company's goal is to provide the most authentic reproduction of sampled vintage gear and other high end hardware devices, using the revolutionary technology "V.V.K.T." (Vectorial Volterra Kernels Technology) without the negative artifacts created by current convolution technology.
After years of continous work, this creative forward thinking group has developed to a team of experts in knowing what it takes to serve the best "of both worlds" (digital & analog).

Acustica Audio donated some of their amazing plugins to winners of the Student Recording Competition!


Acustica Audio website

Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015

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