I’m starting to think that maybe I should go to more of these audio conferences. I have been having such a wonderful time chatting with people and hanging out that I really don’t want to begin the journey home tomorrow night. I want to keep exploring, keep learning, but I guess that is what we should aim for in our entire lives, right? Today the conference was held at Bang & Olufsen, which conveniently is right across the street from my rental apartment. I still rode the bike because I woke up late and spent some time trying to figure out where the correct building was. It ended up being in a big glass building off to the side.
The first morning discussion featured a paper by David Scheirman who, when I talked to him yesterday, turns out he actually knows the owner of the company I work for back home! You go half way around the world and still encounter people that are somehow within two or three degrees of separation from you. If that is not a testimony to the smallness of the world, I don’t know what is. To continue along this vein, one of the guys from d&b Audiotechnik used to freelance with our company when I first started working there! We had a conversation about Green Day, 924 Gilman, and the Bay Area punk scene. We both found it so strange that we were standing in Denmark talking about a punk club in Berkeley, California.
We had three workshops today; a microphone tutorial with DPA Microphones, an introduction to the Beolab 90 by Bang & Olufsen, and a FOH system discussion of the system for the “Run The Beat” marathon event tomorrow after the end of the conference. In the microphone workshop I met Malle’s friend Rune: a charismatic former touring engineer who got off the road to work for DPA. Malle assisted them as the microphone tech helping place mics on a drum kit. The stage that we were working on had a ringing frequency due to the rain walls that got into all their mics so the demo really did not do justice to the fidelity of their sound.
I asked him to clarify his claim that the micro diaphragm design on the mics reproduced the signal better because the diaphragm actually allows for maximum movement. Traditionally large diaphragm condenser mics have been associated with “warmer” low frequency representation. He said that in their mics, the clipping actually happens first in the tiny amp attached to the diaphragm inside the microphone assembly rather than mechanically in the diaphragm. That is why they are able to use these mics on drums and capture the transients so well.
I snuck away at lunchtime to change over my laundry and put the bike away since I was so close by. In the other workshops that morning I learned more about d&b ArrayProcessing from the FOH system workshop and listened to the hi-fi speaker system (the Beolab 90) that looks like an alien sea creature. We got to listen to it in the B&O listening room. I find it fascinating that they spend tons of money to create these rooms to simulate being in the living room of a house with all its flaws. I loved the presentation of the Beolab’s circuit boards in a plexiglass display. It made me think of a sci-fi dream in another world examining technology from a distant time and place.
There was a concert with Katrine Windfeld Big Band after the last paper presentation of the day. They were good jazz musicians, but the funny thing about working at concerts is that there really has to be something exceptional in order for me to be excited about a show. It was interesting to see the ArrayProcessing working. They went over how you can define your listening space so that say, for example, you want even SPL coverage in 50m and then 2dB SPL loss over the next 50m. You could define that in the program and it translated to a pretty clear distinction when you heard where the drop was compared to where it should be.
I told Malle we should meet up for drinks after the conference, but her phone died so she could only be reached online. I realized as I was walking back to the house that the best way to get in touch with her due to her phone not working was to physically go and find her. I figured my best bet was to look for her at the main stage where the demo had been. Sure enough when I walked back, there she was. She and Rune invited me to join them for dinner before they had to catch a plane from Bilund back to Copenhagen. They had rented a black Mercedes-Benz for their trip to Struer. I guess the rental car company had run out of cars so they got upgraded.
“Violence times speed equal solution,” Rune said.
Since the security guards had left for the day, we discovered that the gate out of B&O were locked and we drove around trying to find someone to let us out. I suggested jokingly to drive through it since it was a rental.
“I like you,” Rune laughed.
Malle drove us to a restaurant down by the harbor of the fjord. I can’t even remember what it was called, but I taught Rune the word “quaint” when describing it. I had a delicious IPA called Glyden with rosemary in it and a fantastic dinner of fish in a butter dill sauce. The sauce made event the broccoli taste incredible! I ate every last piece in an embarrassing display of apparent starvation.
I was fully aware that the buses to the Hayloft evening event in Thyholm left from Struer Grand Hotel at 6:15 P.M. I figured I would bike or take a taxi there later. It turns out I would not be biking since the venue was, as promised, in the middle of nowhere. Google Maps indicated a 58-minute bike ride. Rune asked the server if she could order me a cab. It would cost 400 krone, which was about $62, but in the end having dinner with them was worth it.
Before partng ways, we had been joking earlier about the Mercedes being a “gangster” car so I suggested taking a photo of them next to the car looking as tough as possible. The result was quite comical. To start off, the front of the vehicle had been splattered with mud so it wasn’t exactly photogenic. Malle put her black hood up and Rune stood legs spread wide in his suit jacket with dark aviator sunglasses. The other gentlemen leaned with his arms across his chest scowling at the camera. I promised Malle to post it on Facebook. The taxi came for me after they had left. Fortunately, I saved the address so I could show him where I wanted to go since I can’t properly pronounce the street names in Danish.
We drove through the rolling farmlands across a bridge over glistening water. I said it was beautiful. The cab driver chuckled.
“Just wait,” he said.
The area reminded me of Napa Valley without the mountain ridges. We came to the address: the home of a wine importing business. Cars scattered the driveway, but I didn’t immediately hear the commotion of a bunch of sound people drinking wine. He offered to wait a moment just in case. I walked cautiously past the arched doorway into a wine cellar where bottles lay horizontally in neat rows on wooden shelves. A man with a grey button-up shirt and a nicely trimmed mustache smiled at me from around the corner.
“Are you the last one?” he asked
“I think so…” I said.
“Come. The others are upstairs. Would you like a glass of wine?” he carried a tray of flute glasses that held sparkling red wine.
“Yes, please, and thank you,” I said as I took one of the glasses.
“Everyone else is upstairs,” he motioned to a wooden staircase that led up to the loft, hence, the name Hayloft.
I walked into a room with wooden rafters where a stage presented a small bands worth of gear on one end and trays of charcuterie meats arranged on silver platters on the other with nicely set tables in between. It reminded me of some of the wedding gigs we do, complete even with the Midas X32R console. Even though I had just eaten, I always have room for more food. I sat down at one of the front tables with the L-Acoustics guys, Jonathan Burton, and the young man from the University of Essex who had presented his subwoofer paper. At some point, the man who I had met when I first walked in stepped onto the stage with a wine glass in his hand. He introduced himself as the owner and told us his story: how once he had been a school teacher that imported a few wines just so he could have the wine that he liked. Soon it became enough of an enterprise that he left his teaching job. He started The Hayloft as an experiment with the help of one of the conference committee members, Peter Chapman, who helped put in a sound system. When the presenter had finished, an AES member who had been one of the moderators stood up and began telling sound person jokes, which got a half-hearted chuckle from everyone. A band called The Nice Little Penguins performed after that. They were decent players, but honestly I was more interested in talking to people so I found myself taking my glass of red wine and following the other live sound people who seemed to wander outside as well.
Outside the moon shined bright against the dark indigo of the night sky. A few clouds hung low, but I still could see stars forming constellations over the apple trees. I found myself talking to a gentlemen who ran a live sound company in Latvia. I conversed with the presenter from Essex who actually turned out to be from Chicago, which made me realize he had a very fascinating Midwest-meets-British hybrid accent. I also talked to François and Etienne from L-Acoustics, and a guy named DJ who had a small company in he Netherlands that focused on jazz music.
Pleasant conversation makes time just disappear. The wine certainly helps with that as well. By the time the bus rolled around to give us a lift back to the hotels, I had purple lips from sipping wine all night. I wasn’t sure if the warmth in my chest was from my heart lifting from happiness or the buzz from the wine. How different are they, really?
I got off with everyone at the Struer Grand Hotel and, thinking in advance, I had saved the cab drivers card so I could call a cab back to the rental apartment. When sleep came to me that night, I wore a smile on my face as I was overcome by dreams.