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  • Writer's pictureConfessions of A Listener


Me and Emilie Giles (Multidisplinary artist) photo credits: AES

Last week I took some time away from my studies to volunteer at AES 146th Convention in Dublin. I was going in with no idea of what to expect at the conference, or how staying with complete strangers would be. Circulating doubts on whether it would be worth sacrificing study time, also contributed to pre-existing emotions of excitement and nervousness. But overall it was an informative experience and gave me the push I needed to appreciate this part of my journey.

Several questions appeared whilst I was away: was I enjoying my time and is this relevant? These queries were being applied to the information I was receiving at the talks and the time spent outside of those hours.

On reflection I could have researched the topics more thoroughly and picked specific days to attend, however as a volunteer (and to make the most of being in a different city) I felt obliged to work on days I wasn’t fully interested in.

A positive from working those days was having the opportunity to view predictions of where the audio industry is headed thanks to the latest technology/computer programming: a bonus to know for future employment. Another encouraging outcome was building connections and cementing friendships which can be called upon later.

One aspect I always forget though is how much energy goes into attending these conferences!

The convention ran for 4 days and during that time a lot of information was taken in. Some of it has been useful and others not so much (in depth lectures on metadata for music production – useful for some but not the most riveting subject), but I enjoyed a couple of the panel discussions.

In one panel the topics of discussion included:

- sound design, dubbing mixing, ADR, Foley, music engineer for orchestral scores,

- and diversity/inclusivity within different areas using sound

(museums and audio description, textiles with audio (art) for group interaction or disabled/visually impaired people, helping older people specifically those with dementia, and much more).

They also briefly talked about the discrepancy of music to film/other sound professions. AES conferences (from what I gathered in Dublin), are predominately orientated around what is currently popular within modern culture or music. This year consisted of the potentials in immersive audio, archiving music, spatial audio and the plus/minuses of new technologies in music production.

Film/other audio professions were included towards the end of the week but still outnumbered by the other areas mentioned. This panel explained it could be because these creative practices haven’t had the opportunity to hold the limelight. But this could be changing by the media showing more behind the scenes or revealing the magic of their works (like Planet Earth Diaries), and workshops of these genres happening in early as well as higher education.

On first signing up I had doubts (because of the word “engineering”), and naively or deliberately avoided looking into how technical the convention was going to be. It hasn’t put me off following a career in audio, but might have felt more balanced with examples or discussions of creative outputs within the audio industry. Hence why I raved about the panel discussions mentioned earlier.

On the other hand, I made strong connections with other sound students and spoke to various professionals in the sound industry. Being around people in similar situation has given me more confidence in understanding the audio lingo and technology.

Now to crack on with project work!


Find out more about AES (Audio Engineering Society) here.

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