October 2003
Audio Products Go Wild!

New stuff you will not see at AES this month…

by Paul D. Lehrman

It's AES time. Thousands of us will flock to the Javits Center to drink overpriced lukewarm coffee, eat three-day-old sandwiches, lose our voices from shouting over the din and try to figure out which way to jump so as to keep ahead of the competition. And if you wonder why all of the engineers in the booths look like they haven't slept for two weeks, it's because they haven't. They've been working around the clock trying to get their prototypes up and running for the show, or at least working well enough so no one can tell that production is actually still a year away.

But for those of us in the know -- and that includes me, as I've been going to these things for more than 25 years (yes, I was there when the New York show was held at the Waldorf-Astoria) -- the real action isn't on the floor, or even in the private demo rooms or high-priced hotel suites. It's in the corridors, the cheap motels and the alleyways where you will find the truly revolutionary products, from manufacturers too hip and too cheap to have an official presence at the show. And that's what this column is about: new products that you won't see at this month's AES, because they're simply too revolutionary for the general public. Like the products on the show floor these days, they break down almost entirely into two categories: control surfaces and software plug-ins.

It's too bad that Mackie wasn't audacious enough to trademark the words "user interface" and its attendant acronym, because we're about to see dozens of products that will piggyback on the popularity of its HUI and Baby HUI control surfaces. Most of these will be coming from an Indonesian company well-known for its poor-quality knockoffs of other companies' gear, and its first products, which will follow the tradition of being named after old comic-book characters, will be the "Donald's Nephews" line, comprising "LUI" and "DUI" (pending dismissal of the expected lawsuit by Disney).

The rest of this column, along with 56 more, is now available in The Insider Audio Bathroom Reader, published by Thomson Course Technology PTR.

Copyright ©2006 by Paul D. Lehrman