AES Section Meeting Reports

Pacific Northwest - April 28, 2020

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The PNW Section held its first virtual/online meeting of the pandemic era April 28, with Dan Mortensen of Dansound Inc. speaking about mixing for live sound with tablet devices. The Section settled on using the Zoom Video Communications platform, with security measures, provided by co-sponsor, the University of Washington School of Music. Attendees were asked to preregister with a real screen name before being given the Zoom link. About 22 AES members and 16 non-members attended from around the world. PNW Chair Greg Dixon began by announcing the PNW elections in June and the nominations.

Dan Mortensen has owned his own sound reinforcement company since 1973. Starting with borrowed Altec 1567A's, then kit-built Gatelys, then Soundcraft Series 1S and many other Soundcraft mixers including Series 5 and MH4, and now into Behringer/Midas X/M32 and other models, he has spent a lot of time mixing one-nighters in the Seattle area and, theoretically in these times, is still doing so. Dan has been our Section Chair eight times over 23 years, and is currently a Committee member, as well as being co-Chair of both the Historical and Sound Reinforcement tracks at the upcoming AES Convention in New York City in October. He is a Life Member of the AES.

Dan set up a mini TV production studio in his workshop to provide live and prerecorded content over Zoom. Attendees were asked to submit questions during the talk via the chat feature, which were moderated and submitted at appropriate times by Committeeperson Bill Gibson. Other Committee monitored admittance and muted mics.

Dan began with his personal horror story of having his early tablet system go down briefly during a show, prompting his search for the utmost reliability. He showed slides of different systems to illustrate the title "Mixing on Glass," noting that some people think of it as using large hardwired touchscreen computers, but that his interest and the talk would be about using one or more portable, wireless handheld tablets. He gave his recommendations on what to look for with a tablet-control digital mixing system - mainly, he wants full control of every parameter available on the tablet, not just a few controls, and the system must handle multiple tablets at once. He further recommends that for pro gigs, everything must have a hardware backup - two of everything, with the backup preferably not even plugged in yet. He went on to describe his recommended Wi-Fi setup, including routers, placement, IP addressing configurations, and security concerns.

Since attendees were free to keep refreshed on their own, the consensus was to not have a lengthy break. Everyone could unmute and introduced themselves. Guests were from as far as Scotland UK (very early in the morning) to New York, the U.S. Midwest and on to the U.S. west coast. No door prizes or refreshments were available, however.

Dan continued with short videos showing his portable system rack configurations, and his ad hoc workshop video presentation studio. Many questions and comments were made about Wi-Fi and UPS (uninterrupted power supplies).

The online meeting proved the viability of this concept. Video/audio will be available on the PNW Section website,

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AES - Audio Engineering Society