December 11, 2019 I Event

Growing the Family

By Michael Gallant

 Dear Reality’s Achim Fell

Visitors to the 147th Audio Engineering Society’s Pro Audio Convention in New York City this October saw firsthand how the MI world is growing—in terms of creativity, technology and community alike.

Players, Producers and Podcasters

AES 2019 showed that its core musical market is still thriving, creating steady sales and inspiring new products.

Many exhibitors noted the steady stream of young students among the show’s 14,000-plus visitors. “It’s great seeing so many students who are interested in studio and live sound at the show,” said Audio-Technica’s Gary Boss. “This year, we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of our legacy AT4050 studio microphone, which is older than many of those students. There are lots of booths showcasing similar legacy products that might not be the shiny new thing but are staples of the industry.”

As in recent years, podcasting continued to be a notable trend of AES. Zoom announced the new LiveTrak L-8 digital mixer and recorder. Containing dedicated podcaster features like sound pads and TRRS connections, the product is aimed directly at the podcasters, who Zoom’s Samuel Greene estimates make up over 60% of Zoom’s customer base.

While Warm Audio primarily sees its new products like the new WA-84 small pencil condenser microphone appealing to musicians, they too are seeing growth in podcaster interest. “Famous broadcasters like Howard Stern use large condenser microphones, which is what we make,” said Warm’s Bryce Young. “So we are seeing some people want to do the same thing and use a studio-style mic in the podcasting world.”

Music-oriented software and effects companies are also seeing growth in the podcasting market. “Products like our Synergy Core give podcasters next-level sound quality, preamps and mic modeling,” said Antelope’s Kristian Velkov. “We give them access to the sounds of classic and proven Japanese and German microphones that are very difficult to get a hold of.”

New Formats, Markets And Dimensions

Multiple company representatives noted the growth of 3D and immersive audio, a trend that Sennheiser jumped on with the acquisition of Dear Reality, which showcased a new software update that supports 26 multi-channel formats. “Our software is being used for surround sound, audio for picture, games, and virtual and augmented reality, but I also see immersive and spatial audio becoming more popular for music,” said Achim Fell of Dear Reality.

Speaking of format-friendly innovations, Jake Altschuler of Avid discussed a new partnership between the company and Netflix: “Now, you can export one WAV file from Pro Tools, and it will contain different stereo formats, languages and other data so it will automatically work on all Netflix platforms,” he said.

Industry hardware stalwarts are also serving increasingly diverse markets. AES marked the first show appearance for Focusrite’s hugely popular Scarlett 3rd Gen audio interfaces, which are selling not just to “musicians, who are our traditional customer base but to video game streamers, podcasters, broadcasters and any other [end-users] in between,” said Focusrite’s Dan Hughley. Similarly, Shure’s TwinPlex lavalier and headset microphone series aids in use-cases ranging from film and TV dialogue to live theater performance to corporate and house-of-worship use and beyond, says Shure’s John Born. “If you need a headset or small lavalier—for any purpose—we have the solution.” MI

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