AES Section Meeting Reports

Toronto - February 25, 2020

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Anthony handed over the proceedings to Rob DiVito, who traditionally hosts all the Toronto AES member showcase events. He briefly delved into the history of the showcase and how, primarily, it provides insight into the Toronto membership. Rob introduced each presenter during the evening,

The first presenter, Stephen Pitkin, talked about having to recreate an outboard signal path using plugins in order to remove some artifacts from a mix of his band's latest album. The artifact in question was too much "pulling down" of the overall mix caused by an inappropriate compressor setting. The pull down was triggered by the vocal level (though this level was intentional in the overall mix).

Stephen, who is a mix engineer and producer, began his talk by highlighting his background and education. He continued the discussion by going over his band's latest album which led to the track in question. The outboard chain consisted of a Maag EQ, an SSL buss compressor, and closed by running through an MCI tape machine.

Listening to the playback it was apparent that during vocal pauses the rest of the band mix was slowly coming up to the original level after having been pulled down. In recreating this in plugin form, the Universal Audio emulations were used: here a software model of the MAAG EQ and SSL compressor was available, while for the tape portion the Ampex 102 model was used. In this chain the compressor settings were "corrected" and on playback the overall mix was more natural and open sounding.

This presentation was an opportunity to do a comparison not always readily available, namely comparing an outboard mix to the in-the-box emulation. Another highlight of this talk was that Stephen created phase inverted versions of both mixes and concluded by playing the phase-inverted in-the-box mix simultaneously with the original outboard mix. (Obviously there was not any cancellation).

During a brief Q&A someone asked about alignment of the MCI tape machine and who performed the maintenance. Also, in Stephen's opinion, the software emulation of the MAAG EQ is "fantastic".

Doug McClement, of Livewire, discussed his very recent project of installing the Dolby Atmos Immersive Audio system into his mobile environment.

Doug's presentation was also a bit of a "history lesson". His began with discussing his background and how his business evolved into live location sound and recording. With ample photos displayed during his talk, it was a fascinating look at the processes and procedures used back then. (Doug began working in the industry in the late 70's).

The talk then proceeded to the challenges involved in placing the height speakers of a 5.1.4 system into his existing mobile environment, and this was highlighted with many detailed photos of the construction and placement process. He created and played a video demonstrating the soloing capabilities of the system, and the speaker selection possibilities.

His reason for the upgrade was that he simply wanted to be prepared for Atmos for clients asking for it. Doug added that Atmos now is where 5.1 was at its beginnings.

There was a short break before the last two presentations.

Michael Nunan, of Bellmedia, discussed a recent experiment: real-time musical collaboration over IP. The experiment involved 8 musicians (two located in different cities in Ontario), and the rest in Montreal where the actual event originated, performing in real-time, supported by HD pictures, and executed using standards-based IP. After discussing the Bell network briefly and the background of this project, he went over the protocols and all the procedures involved. There was no idea, beforehand, if this would actually work. A backup plan was set up in the form of an entirely redundant playback system.

Viewing the raw audio and video footage provided proof that this idea works. In fact, Michael noted during the final set up, the musicians began spontaneously jamming while waiting for their next instructions.

Still, this is a long way off from being a regular occurrence: only a large company like Bell could entertain the costs involved just for the connectivity alone. "Grotesquely impossible" was a description Mr. Nunan used. A short Q&A followed.

One of the audience members mentioned noticing the video for the drummer didn't seem to sync up with the audio. Mike reminded everyone they were viewing totally raw footage without any processing or enhancements.

The final presenter was Peter Harper of Global USS offering insights on Modern Acoustic Materials and Application. He began with a discussion of the background and science behind the acoustic panels. With the aid of slides, he discussed the implementation of transparent absorbers where the venues in question were primarily glass enclosures requiring acoustic treatment but under no circumstances were to use traditional fabric covered absorbers.

The panels are constructed with polyethylene terephalate (recycled pop-bottles). Each panel has a series 0.2 millimetre slits on them. Peter gave a loose demonstration of their effectiveness by holding a panel in front of him while speaking and slowing moving it downward. As this was done his voice returned from sounding quiet and somewhat muffled, to normal. He had a variety of samples that were passed around for inspection by those in attendance.

As with the other presentations, a Q&A period followed.

At the end of the event, Anthony thanked everyone and awarded each with a Toronto Section AES coffee mug and a Certificate of Appreciation.

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