Greg's highlights of the 2002 AES show in Los Angeles

   It's Wednesday morning 10/9, and I'm on the 8AM flight back to the east coast. I'm exhausted, so I'll write until I collapse or the battery on my Powerbook gives out.

   Well, AES in LA ended yesterday, and I can sum up my experience in one word - amazing! Those of you who have seen me at previous shows know that I really enjoy doing them. Not the load-in, set-up, tear-down, etc., but meeting face-to-face with the people I've spoken with on the phone in the past year. Nothing better than a room full of like-minded people who are interested in audio in all its many forms and formats. For those who couldn't make it, here's what the booth looked like. It was set up for demoing the mic pre with condenser and ribbon mics, opto and delta-mu compressors with uncompressed program material, and the Quartet.

   This year attendance (at least at my booth) was much better than AES in LA in 2000. Our location was great, and in close proximity to most of the other small high-end manufacturers - folks that are genuinely passionate about what they do - and a very friendly bunch. I had the pleasure of technical discussions with old and new friends like Dave Hill of Crane Song, Geoff Daking, Hutch Hutchison and EveAnna Manley, George Massenburg (congrats on the TEC award!), David Bock at Soundelux, Michael Grace, Dave Marquette, Dan Kennedy of Great River, Jon Pedersen of Tube-Tech, Chuck Gray at Millennia, Dave Amels of Bomb Factory, Rick, John and Amalia at Royer, Wes Dooley of AEA, David Josephson, Dale at Vintech, the folks at ADAM across the aisle (great speakers) and many others that I'm sure I'm leaving out. It's great to share the trials and tribulations of design and manufacturing with folks who face many of the same challenges that I do. Not to mention the opportunity to hang out with some of the people who sell our stuff, especially Fletcher and Samara of Mercenary Audio (who are shipping lots of Quartets), and Nathan and Brijitte of Atlas Pro Audio who I met for the first time this show (thanks for the coffee and muffins!).

   Of course, there's nothing quite as much fun as the people that use your gear saying nice things about it. Since the rental houses in LA carry our compressors, I spoke with a lot of producers and engineers that I was unaware have used our 6386 and ES-8 Limiters. As always, I had a great discussion with Dave Collins at Marcussen Mastering (who has a 6386) about opto cells and circuit design philosophy. Here's a photo if Dave and Brad Blackwood of Ardent Mastering after looking through the (unvented ) plexi top cover on the Quartet. I had the unit powered up the entire show and I'm happy to say the tubes did not melt the plastic.

   Always good to talk with Tim Mulligan and crew who tour and record Neil Young and CSNY. They have had an OCl-2 on the mix bus for every live show since receiving it, and use them it in the studio for vocals and acoustic guitars. Steve Krause, who among other things is busy working with Mark Isham on scoring dates, has had an ES-8 since the last LA show. He kept dragging engineers over to hear the compressor demos. With clients like Steve, I may never hire a sales and marketing manager!

   Thanks to MIX, Pro Audio Review, Tape-Op, and EQ magazines. Robin Boyce-Trubitt at MIX (the nicest person you'll ever meet) took me to a great dinner on Saturday with the folks at Arboretum Software and fetched me coffee more than once. My friend Mark Frink (sound reinforcement editor) and I discussed putting out the de-esser in the Quartet as a separate product. He used the prototype on the Tony Bennett/kd lang tour. Mark has also used the OCL-2 extensively on the last Joni Mitchell tour (with full orchestra) and kd lang, both for vocals and instruments. Paul Dacruz at PAR took me to hear the LA Philharmonic on Fiday night, which was definitely a high point of the trip to LA. Imagine that - real people, making music, at the same time, in the same room. What a strange concept. Larry and John at Tape-Op hung out to talk about their conference in Portland next May, (I'll be on the Mic Pre panel and sponsoring) and to give me the very good news about the upcoming review of the Quartet that Larry did for the next issue. Here they are at the booth:

   There were a few funny moments, like the guy from CBS who discussed using tube mic preamps for broadcast with me for a half hour. After he left, I looked closely at his business card (with an 'eye' logo and block lettered CBS) and saw in small print "Caribbean Broadcast Services". Dan Rather in dreadlocks, perhaps?

   Then there was the celebrity who showed up at my booth that absolutely nobody recognized (but me). Here's a hint - he's influenced the audio/record biz more that anyone else I saw at the show. He's not a recording artist, producer, engineer, or record company exec. Can you guess who he is? No, not the guy on the right...that's me. No cheating now....

   That's right - it's Shawn Fanning, the creator of Napster. Without his trademark hat. I imagine there would've been fireworks if he and Neil Young's guys were at the booth together. We had a very interesting discussion about digital delivery of audio and video, Bill Gates (of course), and fingerprinting files for copyright protection. I'm sure we'll all read about it soon in the Wall Street Journal. By the way, he has a ProTools rig (at this point, who doesn't?) and was looking at analog front end (at this point, who isn't?).

   Well, that's all for now. Thanks again to everyone I spoke with. See you at the Tape-Op conference Portland in May, or at AES in New York next fall.

Greg Gualtieri

P.S. I saw Mixerman - the real Mixerman. And Lance - I think.

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