AES Section Meeting Reports

Nashville - April 11, 2019

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The Nashville Section of the AES held its sixteenth annual "Spring Mixer" competition on April 11. Area schools with audio recording programs were invited to participate in the annual student mixing competition. Participating from area schools were students from Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University, SAE Institute-Nashville, Tennessee State University, and The Blackbird Academy.
Each team was given identical raw original studio tracks recorded in a Nashville professional studio, identical mixing environments, and eight hours to create a stereo mix and complete the paperwork as recommended by the AES and the Producer / Engineer Wing of NARAS. Entering the competition, the students were only informed of the judging criteria and what equipment they would be using. The mixing was performed on April 6th and 7th in four identical Pro Tools HD post production rooms at the Country Music Television facility in Nashville, TN. The students were informed as to what version of software to expect on the Pro Tools, room monitoring equipment, and what plug-ins would be available on those systems.
Rules prohibited any materials being brought in, re-recording of any new material outside of the Pro Tools systems, or any outside assistance.
The final mix created by each team, using tracks from a recording session of "A Life That's Mine" by John Jed, was judged on eight elements, Fidelity/Sonics, Imaging Width, Image Depth, Mix Balance, Lead Presence, Mix Development, Dynamic Range/Preparation for Mastering and Documentation-completion of "Session Documentation Sheet — Mixing" developed as a joint effort by AES Nashville Section and the P&E Wing of NARAS.
Barry Cardinael, Chairman, AES, Nashville Section served as Emcee. A panel of judges comprised of industry professionals graded the mixes and presented their critiques at the April 11 meeting. The event was held in the 4th Story Theater at the West End United Methodist Church in Nashville. The judges included — Randy Poole-Studio Owner/Engineer/Producer, Ed Seay-Engineer/Producer, Bob Bullock-Engineer/Producer, Justin Miller- Studio Owner/Engineer/Producer, and Mike Poston- Engineer/Producer.
The judges were not told what mix went with which school.
This is quite likely the only chance for the students to be critiqued in a completely subjective environment. The winner of this year's competition was the team from SAE Institute-Nashville, comprised of Jonathan Fiorante and Sims Lester. Second place went to Belmont University, the team was comprised of Cameron Row, Claire Bidigare-Curtis, and Alex Wilhelm. Third place went to The Blackbird Academy, the team was comprised of Dan Miller, Jacob Roberts, and Chris Dougherty. The winning school received a MikTek CV3 microphone and each winning team member received a MikTek MK300 microphone, Harrison Mix Bus, Presonus Studio One Professional, Fabfilter Pro-Q EQ and Filter Plugin, and a pair of MikTek DH80 headphones. Other prizes that were so generously supplied by our sponsors — IK Multimedia, Presonus, D'Addario, MOTU, Professional Sound Products, and Universal Audio.
The AES Nashville Section furnished finely tailored upper torso custom garments (event T-Shirts). As the first place winner, SAE Institute-Nashville took home the coveted "Top Mixer" perpetual trophy that will be proudly displayed with appropriate bragging rights until next year.

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