Barry Cleveland: Snapshots From the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention

October 30, 2012

Although it was an extraordinarily beautiful day in San Francisco, I nonetheless descended into the cavernous bowels of the Moscone Center to quickly scan the wares on display at the AES show—and say hello to some friends—before heading back out into the glorious Bay Area sunshine.
AES is anything but a guitar show, so guitar-specific products were few and far between. In fact, other than some impressive-looking tube guitar amps built by students enrolled at Cogswell College, and a couple of tiny stock Mesa/Boogies being used to demo Eventide Stompboxes, Chandler Limited was the only company sporting an amp and guitar-specific stompboxes.
There were all sorts of other amazing things, of course, and here's my more-or-less random micro photo essay:

Wade Goeke of Chandler Limited with a new amplifier that should hit the market soon, and some cool pedals, including a prototype of a new hybrid analog/digital delay.

John Jennings of Royer Labs with the new Royer SF-2 Ribbon Microphone, a phantom-powered version of Royer's original SF-1. The mic is designed primarily for classical and other acoustic applications, including acoustic guitars of all sorts. And, according to Jennings, it also sounds great on guitar amps, as long as the decibel level isn't so high that it shreds the ribbon.

Lots more ribbon mics were on display. These from Audio Engineering Associates (AEA) tend toward the high end price-wise, though the "affordable" R84 Studio Ribbon Microphone streets at around a grand. Also shown is the new RPQ-550 mic preamp.
On the other end of the cost spectrum are Cascade ribbon microphones, most of which street for well under $500. The Fat Head II models are particularly popular for miking guitar amps.
CharterOak Acoustic Devices is a forward-thinking company doing great things with midrange and upper-midrange tube and solid-state condenser microphones. For $2,800 street you can get the Small Studio Collection Bundle, which includes an SA538, an E700, and a matched pair of M900s.

MXL continues to offer an array of inexpensive microphones that provide major bang per buck. For example, that flashy red guy in front is the Genesis model—a large-diaphragm tube condenser endowed with an NOS Mullard 12AT7 that sells for about $600!
The award for coolest-looking retro product goes to Tree Audio for The Roots, an 8-channel/2-buss tube hybrid console. Steve Firlotte shows off the goodies under the hood. Although this little beauty isn't cheap, a relatively inexpensive channel strip sporting nearly all the same features will be released in the near future.
By most accounts the hit of the show was this Slate Pro Audio Raven Multitouch Audio Production Console, a touchscreen control interface for DAWs of all stripes. Here's a video that highlights the unit's features:


2014 may mark the end of artists releasing platinum albums.
Steve Miller bassist Kenny Lee Lewis loved this band's performance.
A finished CD means little if you can't get people to hear it.
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