AES is the most varied worldwide assemblage of experts, thought leaders, researchers, manufacturers and practitioners of audio in the world. During our recent fall event we had attendees from 82 countries. Each of us have our individual interests and goals for our work, but a passion for audio ties us together.
I am somewhat in awe that I have the chance to address you in this way. Each of you makes an important contribution to the world of audio and has expertise in your chosen areas. In recognition of that I can only say how very proud I am to represent you individually and as a community.
I want to take an opportunity to give special thanks to all those who have lead the AES over the years, past presidents in particular who have been caretakers of the organization with a special nod to my immediate predecessor Agnieszka Roginska. She was presented with unprecedented challenges in 2020 and here, at the beginning of 2021, AES finds itself in a stronger position than when 2020 began. Collaborating with the stellar membership of our Boards of Directors and Governors, Agnieszka provided clear leadership and supported innovation that was required during the year...and now we are positioned to continue to grow and thrive as the AES.
There are so many interesting and exciting developments taking place in the world of audio. The three pillars I am energized to stand up can be summed up in three words: Equity, Sustainability and Innovation
For those who don’t know me, I am a longtime mastering engineer and producer, an educator most recently at the Berklee College of Music and an itinerant french horn player. I also spend time working with talented people on the future of audio in my role with iZotope. During my 33 years as an AES member as an audio technologist I have personally witnessed four decades of change in audio technology. Some of that change has been evolutionary and some revolutionary. There have been times when the changes seemed to represent an existential threat to the role of the audio professional. Whether the advent of digital media facilitating copying, lossy codecs facilitating easy distribution, or the emergence of technologies such as block chain and neural networks, some might have predicted the ‘end’ of the audio engineer...and yet nothing seems further from the truth. The evolution of technology seems to consistently bring about new roles and opportunities for audio professionals. The role of the audio engineer has diversified and includes skills in IT and programming alongside the enduring roles such as systems design, acoustics, recording, mixing, and mastering...but as always these roles require core audio expertise.
I think it’s a reasonable assertion to say that there are more people working with audio than at any time in the history of the world. As online platforms facilitate knowledge share, we see an increasing level of education, sophistication and participation all around the globe.
However, to say that we have challenges would be an understatement. We’re constantly needing to improve ourselves and learn new skills to remain up to date in a quickly changing world; audio professionals must continuously adapt to be able to continue their work.
Our ability to embrace technical innovation and evolution is one essential element of a thriving AES. Another is our ability to grow and become ever more inclusive. Decades ago it was pretty easy to find our fellow audio engineers. They were in labs, or in studios. They were in radio stations and in broadcast facilities. They were behind the consoles in clubs and on tours. Now we are everywhere. Audio engineering is taking place in urban and rural settings, in homes, in corporate environments, and in houses of worship. Accomplished engineers are working on the Hot 100 and building the latest processing tools in far-flung locations. It is critically important that we as AES connect audio engineers together, wherever they are.
Inclusion goes beyond geography, and language. It also means increasing access to those who have traditionally experienced challenges connecting with the audio community. In the U.S., it is our challenge to do better in creating equal access for women, BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. In other parts of the world the identity of those who have difficulty gaining access may be different, but the underlying issue is the same. Make no mistake, talented, brilliant and interested people will find a way to do the things to which they are called. We as the AES must do the work to represent their interests as well as the interests of all those already in our tent. I ask your support in working towards an inclusive AES.
I am grateful to both of them for their contributions - and for helping lay the foundations for greater diversity and inclusion in the Society. I look forward to helping to build an ever expanding AES that has room for all.
AES also continues to be a place to discover what is coming next in audio. Recent events focusing on immersive audio and machine learning applications in audio are recent examples where our members learn about the latest research, development of tools and workflows in audio. The recently implemented Audio Product Education Institute (APEI) is a unique resource for members seeking to learn more about topics related to product development in the 21st century.
In closing, I hope to see as many of you as possible in this coming year if and when it is safe to do so. We plan to be together in October in Las Vegas, and perhaps there will be the possibility of smaller in person gatherings before too long. Until then you can find me online. If you have any questions, concerns or desires regarding AES benefits and programs, you can also find your local section leaders, regional VP’S, Governors, Board of Directors members, and our Executive DIrector and membership support staff online. Please reach out and tell us what’s on your mind. At the end of the day this is your AES.
I’m proud to be able to serve.