Remembering AISE 2018 - The Last One Before CES!

June 9 2018, 01:00
With InfoComm 2018 already behind us, it's time to look forward, when the very first edition of the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics International (ALMA International) Symposium & Expo (AISE 2019), will take place June 9 & 10, 2019, at the Double Tree by Hilton Universal, concurrent with InfoComm 2019, which will be held June 8-14, 2019, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. This will be exciting times for ALMA, bringing new opportunities and challenges. And precisely because of that, we thought it would be fit to properly remember AISE 2018, the last edition which was held this year for the last time in Las Vegas, just before CES. Recapping the several texts that were included in The Audio Voice, as well as the March 2018 edition of Voice Coil, we remember the content, the awards and the excellent moments that always make every edition of ALMA's Symposium & Expo, also hoping to inspire everyone to participate in the 2019 edition.
 

AISE 2018 Report by João Martins and Mike Klasco
If you attended the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics (ALMA) International’s AISE 2018 at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, you probably experienced two days filled with networking, education, networking, exhibitors, new products, and a lot of fun. It may not be a popular statement in the Internet age, but there truly is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. Attendees and exhibitors from around the globe got business done, built relationships, made connections, learned a lot, and jump started a successful 2018.

The annual ALMA International Banquet was a treat for several reasons. The Driver awards, ALMA’s annual tribute to people who have impacted ALMA and the industry, were presented during the banquet, and three awards were presented in 2018. The Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented posthumously to Chris Strahm, founder and president of LinearX. Vance Dickason presented the award to Strahm’s wife Susie. The Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement was posthumously presented to Mike Oslac. Dan Digre presented the award to Oslac’s wife Melissa. ALMA International also presented the Gold Driver Award for Continued Service to ALMA International to Mike Klasco, president of Menlo Scientific.
 
ALMA's President, Dan Foley, addressing a full house at the banquet.
During the banquet, ALMA President Dan Foley announced that beginning in 2019, ALMA International’s signature event, AISE (ALMA International Symposium & Expo) will take place in June and will immediately precede InfoComm. The Board of Directors and Management of the Association has been considering this move for quite a while. The board determined that there is greater synergy between AISE attendees and InfoComm attendees and more opportunities to grow ALMA and AISE. Also, travel costs are lower in June and the dates are more convenient for ALMA’s European members and exhibitors.

AISE 2019 is scheduled for June 9–10, 2019, in Orlando, FL, and will return to Las Vegas in June of 2020, alternating locations in line with InfoComm. Many details about AISE 2019 will be coming, and some aggressive promotional packages designed to get exhibitors excited about the change.
 
AISE 2018 exhibits are the start of the event for all the attendees.
Also announced is ALMA International’s intent to establish an annual Euro-AISE — a version of AISE designed for and with the help of its European members. Many details are still being worked out, but Euro-AISE is expected to launch in 2020 and will be coordinated in cooperation with Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) in February. Foley was enthusiastic in his belief that a second show to serve the European members and beyond will not only serve that market, but will be inviting to an international constituency and will be different enough from the US AISE to make both shows compelling.

Where is the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics International Boldly Going?
After several years taking place at the Tuscany Hotel and Casino, ALMA's International Symposium & Expo (AISE) 2018 moved to a new venue, the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. A great place, and the facilities where superb. It was indeed bigger and better. There was only a small problem. It felt "emptier." Maybe it was the distance from the strip, the traditional storms in the East Coast affecting the unfortunate travelers, or this year's flu epidemic, attendance for AISE 2018 was not according to expectations. Without having official figures, my estimate is at par with 2017, which saw a significant increase in attendance compared to previous years. But given the expanded scope of the presentations, and the quality of exhibitors, there should be more. Much more. And that's been the problem with ALMA's Symposium & Expo - it truly deserves an expanded reach.

And probably that's why ALMA decided to act, and announced radical changes for 2019. After so many years, faithfully preceding CES, without any involvement from or with the Consumer Technology Association, AISE is now on the move - boldly going... elsewhere.
 
As addressed at the ALMA Banquet on Saturday, there are several significant new initiatives. First, ALMA announced the intention to promote an European edition of AISE, in 2019, at the successful Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Secondly, apart from the new "Euro AISE," the US-based AISE 2019 will not take place before CES any longer, but instead it will move to be co-located with the annual InfoComm show.
 
AISE 2019 will take place just before InfoComm 2019, at the Double Tree Universal Orlando, Florida, moving with the show to Las Vegas in 2020. This reflects a decision from the ALMA's Executive Committee and Board of Directors, to cooperate directly with InfoComm International, the trade association representing the $178 billion commercial audiovisual industry worldwide, which recently changed its name to the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). AVIXA and the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA), also jointly promote Integrated Systems Europe in Europe every year - so the connection is there.

I have no doubt that this decision will enable the wider stage that ALMA International deserves and, if well executed, will propel the association's activities to finally gain a much-needed attendance and global scope. For the InfoComm and ISE shows, this approach will also be highly beneficial, since it will provide the loudspeaker industry and related audio technology providers with a much stronger motivation to attend those shows, while ALMA's presentations will be certainly appreciated in those forums.
 
Those were the main headlines. Of course, we need to mention the annual Beryllium Awards, which ALMA decided to expand this year to honor three significant careers and contributions to the loudspeaker industry. One of the highlights of any AISE is always the Annual Banquet, Award ceremony, and keynote speech, and this year's event was a remarkable moment that united all its members in three important tributes.
 
This year, ALMA International decided to present Mike Klasco, the president of Menlo Scientific (and a notable long term audioXpress and Voice Coil contributor), with the Gold Driver Award for continued service to the association. Mike Klasco has been providing consulting services to the audio industry for 35 years, and has been an outspoken advocate to the industry for ALMA, encouraging manufacturers and professionals to engage with the association.
 
ALMA's Gold Driver Award was presented to Mike Klasco for his contribution to the industry and the association.
A Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement was awarded by ALMA International to Chris Strahm (1956 - 2016). The award recognizes the important contributions of Chris Strahm, founder and President of LinearX, who passed away on November 2016. Vance Dickason presented the award to Chris' wife Susie, after remembering Chris' career and significant contributions to the audio industry, including the several companies he founded and worked with, and his crucial work in the development of many audio measurement tools, including those from LinearX, the company he founded in 1991.
 
Vance Dickason presented the Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement to Chris Strahm's wife Susie.
Finally, the Annual Banquet at AISE 2018, honored the memory of Michael Oslac (1944 - 2017), also awarded with a Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement. Mike Oslac, which passed away at age 73, on August 2017, was not only a remarkable entrepreneur in the loudspeaker industry, but it was also one of the vital contributors to the creation and expansion of the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing & Acoustics (ALMA) International. As Dan Digre, President at MISCO Speakers, Oaktron Aerospace, and Warkwyn Labs, remembered, Mike Oslac purchased Oxford Speaker (Oxford) in 1976, building it into a successful OEM speaker manufacturing company that accomplished many firsts in the US Loudspeaker Industry. Michael founded Oxford International, to bring US loudspeaker manufacturing to the OEM global community, which Harman International Industries (Harman) purchased in 1997 leading Michael to move from Chicago to California to serve as Vice President of Strategic Operations for Harman from 1997 to 2001. Later, he served as Chief Operating Officer and President of Tymphany Corporation until May, 2007. As Dan Digre remembered, Michael Oslac, "was not just a company builder, Michael was a person builder. By empowering others, by helping them believe in themselves, to become leaders in their own right."
 
Dan Digre honored the memory of Michael Oslac and awarded the Beryllium Driver Award for Lifetime Achievement to his wife Melissa, and daughters Jordanna, and Maren Oslac, who attended the ceremony.

AISE 2018 Exhibit Coverage
For 2018, the Association of Loudspeaker Manufacturing and Acoustics (ALMA) International moved its ALMA International Symposium & Expo (AISE) from the Tuscany Hotel to the South Point Hotel. While the South Point is a few miles south of the center of Las Vegas Blvd., it is a new hotel with many restaurants and facilities.

By all accounts this new venue was preferred to the Tuscany, which was not bad at all. The South Point Hotel and Casino was well received by most of the attendees and exhibitors. The accommodations proved to be a step up from the previous venues and the catering was definitely a few steps above our past venues. We also thought ALMA International made improvements to the flow of traffic and the venue, therefore, improving the visibility of the exhibitors.
 
The audioXpress, Voice Coil and Loudspeaker industry Sourcebook booth at AISE 2018.
We also learned about the larger moves with ALMA International, with the next (2019) AISE event to take place in conjunction with InfoComm in Florida. Vanessa Rene, VP of ALMA, pointed out that InfoComm seems to have a genuine interest in ALMA International. Rene sees the potential for greater growth if the organization has support from the accompanying monster-sized convention. Time will tell. The Euro-AISE is aligned with this concept, teaming InfoComm’s European show with ALMA.

While we still think CES is the right show for ALMA to sync with, the timing is so wrong... and next year CES is scheduled to be closer to the new year once again… January 8... ugh... and, scheduling AISE prior to it forces the Euro contingent to travel too close to New Year’s Eve/Day. Although our President has already explained to us that climate change is fake news, no one has bothered to tell Mother Nature, and too many Europeans and North-easterners from the US get caught in the Atlantic storms. Often, travelers experience flight delays or miss the event entirely.
 
Globe Plastics' booth
However, leaving a day or two earlier may result in an increase in divorces. While we are on the topic of changes, there was some discussion of Euro-AISE and dragging Dorit Larsen into running this—I would like to volunteer Dorit for this job! But instead of Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt, I thought the 2019 ISE in Amsterdam might be the ideal venue — as it attracts both consumer audio as well as pro audio people — yet it is another weatherwise not so desirable location.

As for the 2018 AISE, we had a chance to visit with several exhibitors and wanted to share some of their comments about the event.

Exhibitors at AISE
Reggie Alphin of Globe Plastics was pleased to see the targeted turn out at the exhibit hall. Alphin said, “The traffic was a bit better at our booth than normal and perhaps this was due to the AcoustaComp phasing plugs. This material has turned out to be a proven winner in the phasing plugs for compression driver market for many of the large OEMs. In addition the AcoustaComp horns, baffles, and waveguides continue to pique interest with the companies that are seeking a performance-based material that doesn’t impact the performance of their components.”

Vanessa Moore Rene, who is Senior Product Specialist, Ferrofluids at Ferrotec (USA) Corp. and Vice President, Executive Committee, ALMA International proclaimed, “ALMA is moving and we couldn’t be happier!”

Rene continued, “As one of the longest-standing continuous members of ALMA, Ferrotec insiders have been keeping a watchful eye on the changes in the loudspeaker industry, as well as the changes needed to keep this organization alive. Ferrotec has been exhibiting at ALMA for almost 30 years, and has been a sustaining member for as long as I can recall. We have watched the numbers at the Winter Symposia stagnate in recent years, and have grown alarmed at the possibility of the demise of this very useful resource for so many in the industry. 
 
Changes to the flow of traffic and the venue improved the visibility of the exhibitors.
This is part of the reason I accepted a nomination and was elected to the Executive Committee in 2017. I have a vested interest in the health of this organization and the good work that it does in providing education to students and industry veterans alike. The 2018 AISE proved to be a difficult meeting for many, between hazardous weather conditions that forced the closing of airports across the Eastern seaboard and an influenza outbreak, so the announcement that we are moving to an association with InfoComm (alternating between Las Vegas and Orlando), starting in 2019, was welcome indeed. True, this is a foray into uncharted waters, but I believe this will breathe new life into the membership.”

Rene added that the new venue for the 2018 AISE in Las Vegas, the South Point Hotel, was “a very nicely appointed facility with excellent, well laid out conference space, comfortable accommodations and a multitude of amenities. The lunch and dinner offerings, especially for the banquet, were very tasty and well prepared. This is a delight when one is a veteran of convention food and expectations are low. Indeed, the hall was not crowded because of the absence of exhibitors who had fallen victim to the flu, but even if they had all been in attendance it would still have been a very comfortably sized hall. This is decidedly a step in the right direction for ALMA.”
 
Several attendees stopped to chat with representatives from Ferrotec, which has been a participant at AISE for 30 years.
Rene concluded, “Ferrotec is deeply committed to our loudspeaker customers for their ferrofluid needs. We see the shift in product areas away from simple home audio to smart speakers and improved mobile audio/communications, and we are responding to these new, more stringent requirements with new ferrofluid formulations. Among these are fluids designed for voice responsive audio components and miniaturized components for cellular applications. As long as there are new audio markets to address, Ferrotec will be responsive and at the forefront of thermal control and device stability for the loudspeaker market and beyond.”

Dorit Larsen of LOUDSOFT told us that they had a fantastic ALMA show and observed that “it is always wonderful to meet with all our American customers and have a lot of both fun and serious talking."

Larsen stated, “This year LOUDSOFT presented a new FINE Hardware 3, which will be the platform for a new generation of FINE QC, FINE R+D and the FINE QC/Headphone/Headset system. The hardware has three microphone inputs and it now measures up to 100 kHz, using 48 kHz, 96 kHz, and 192 kHz sample rates. Also very high accuracy impedance measurements are possible in HI and LO current modes. Even Bluetooth measurements are possible, either using Windows drivers or a separate Bluetooth transmitter. High accuracy intermodulation and difference distortion will be possible with a coming module.”
 
Dorit Larsen of LOUDSOFT said it is always wonderful to meet their American customers and they have a lot of fun and serious talking.
Larsen added, “We are looking forward to exhibiting in Orlando next year and visit the famous Key West.” Ed Okorn, general manager of G.R.A.S. Sound & Vibration North America, told us that for him, the AISE 2018 was a resounding success, and he congratulates the board and organizers. The small, focused group of attendees showed their passion for advancing the industry by their participation in both the seminars and the exposition. Okorn was especially encouraged by ALMA’s sponsorship of student acousticians, as they hold the key to our future. “We look forward to participating in ALMA 2019,” he added.
 
The impressive G.R.A.S. display, showing
the company's new image and motto.
G.R.A.S. had a lot to offer at the expo. Showcasing its High Resolution Ear Simulator designed specifically to meet the need for reliable and repeatable measurements of personal audio devices at high frequencies. The High Resolution Ear Simulator is precise, consistent, and available in two versions: the RA0401 Externally Polarized and the GRAS RA0402 Prepolarized. These models are available on multiple test platforms for R&D, production testing and verification with confidence.

G.R.A.S. also presented its 42AG Multifunction Sound Calibrator, designed to fulfill the need for a portable and versatile calibrator for field use. This product is a portable, battery-operated sound source for calibration and check of microphones and sound level meters. It conforms to the requirements in International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60942 for a Class 1 sound calibrator.

HEAD acoustics’ Jacob Soendergaard also mentioned that they had a fantastic AISE show. Soendergaard stated that once again, “We decided to support the event by exhibiting. On display in our booth, we had our HMS II.3 fully equipped for ANC headphone testing, which we used as an extension of the paper I gave on Saturday morning. Several times during the show, we had people come by for a quick summary of the talk and a demonstration.“

Soendergaard stated, “Additionally, we had a demo laptop in place to show our VoCAS SW solution for Voice Recognition testing. Our latest revision now includes completely automated python based solution for testing the Google ASR tool. With VoCAS controlling the speech out of the HMS II.3 and the exhibit floor providing enough background noise to make the recognition rate really poor, it made for a compelling demo!”
 
HEAD acoustics'  Jacob Soendergaard delivered an interesting presentation on evaluation of active noise cancelling headphones.
HEAD acoustics had HMS II.3 fully equipped for ANC headphone testing.
Soendergaard concluded, “We booked a suite at the hotel so we could have a private space to invite people up to experience our latest background noise playback solution — 3PASS. We would step people through the process of equalization the suite for suitable BGN playback and then have them listen to a few standard noise files (pub/driving/crossroad noise). We even had some fun recording some acted out scenes and playing those back to give our guests an opportunity to see how they could implement their own custom BGN files to test their products with ANC/beamforming/noise suppression/etc. All in all, Jesse[Gratke] and I had two fun and incredibly busy days! The South Point Hotel was definitely a step up. It felt newer, cleaner and more spacious, and served as a good venue for AISE.”

From Mike Klasco, the voice behind the curtain, “Menlo Scientific had a good show and AISE will always be our ‘passing go in Monopoly.’ Sadly, there were a number of empty booths where people or their exhibits got snagged by closed airports—a testimonial to the escalating weather changes and need for a change in the timing of AISE. I think we are all looking forward to sunny Florida in June 2019 for AISE.

Besides the exhibitors already mentioned, AISE had representatives from audioXpress, NTi Audio, CRY Sound, Radian, Menlo Scientific, Materion, Audio Precision, MISCO, Dr. Kurt Muller, SB Acoustics, Store Stream Metrics, COMSOL, BeStar, PCB Piezotronics, Listen, Inc., Bruel & Kjaer, Yota, WISA, and InfoComm. All things considered, it was an outstanding group of exhibitors.
 
LOUDSOFT's Peter Larsen and Voice Coil's Vance Dickason caught catching up on the latest loudspeaker measurement techniques.
Need berylllium? Alex Stanley and Andy Lewis from Materion Truextent can help!
In terms of presentations, this year’s show ranked up there with the paper presentations during an Audio Engineering Society (AES) convention! Here is a list of paper titles and authors:

• Evaluation of Audio Test Methods and Measurement for End-of-Line Loudspeaker Quality Contol — Steve Temme, President of Listen, Inc.
• Future of End-of-Line Testing—Johnathan Novick, VP of Sales & Marketing, Avermetrics 
• Benefits of Non-Rotational Symmetrical Voice Coil — Dennis Hansen, ScanSpeak R&D
• Dealing with Intellectual Property Copying, Piracy, and Theft Issues — J. Andrew McKinney, Jr., Intellectual Property Attorney
• The Power of Brand—Adrian Weidmann, Digital Media Technology consultant
• End-of-Line Testing Environment and Test Enclosures — Kent Peterson, Warkwyn, Sales & Marketing Manager
• Statistical Model That Predicts Listener Sound Quality Preferences of In-Ear Headphones — Sean Olive, Todd Welti, and Omid Khonsaripour, Harman International
• Green Speaker Design Reproduction with Maximum Efficiency — Dr. Wolfgang Klippel, Klippel GmbH
• Learning From Production—Robert Werner, Klippel GmbH
• How Limiting Audio Reproduction Bandwidth to 20 kHz May Also Be Limiting Your Potenial Market — Dan Foley, President, ALMA International
• Fast Measurement Under Simulated Free-Field Conditions — Dr. Wolfgang Klippel, Klippel GmbH
• Why Testing Voice Coil Position in Production line and How? — Dr. Wolfgang Klippel, Klippel GmbH
• Preparing Speech Data for Testing of Automatic Speech Recognition Systems—Jesse Gratke, Consulting Engineer for HEAD acoustics, Inc.
• Testing of Automotive Audio Systems — Jesse Gratke, Consulting Engineer, HEAD acoustics, Inc.
• Advanced ANC Headphone Measurements — Jacob Soendergaard, Head acoustics, Inc.
• Testing of High-End Audio Systems Objective — Brian MacMillan, Associate General Manager, NTi Audio
• End-of-Line Test Concepts to Achieve and Maintain Yield and Quality in High Volume Loudspeaker Production — Gregor Schmidle, Product Manager, NTI Audio
• Challenges of IoT (Internet of Things) Smart Speaker Testing, Dan Knighten, Listen, Inc.
• Time Domain Modeling of Electroacoustic Systems Including an Accurate Model of Eddy Current Behavior — Dr. Stephen C. Thompson, Professor of Acoustics, Penn State University
• The Challenge of Testing Modern Headphones and the Test Equipment Available Today — Peter Wulf-Anderson, G.R.A.S. Sound & Vibration
• Delay Measurements in Micro Transducers for ANC — Erik Wiederholtz, Staff Audio Development Engineer, Knowles Corp.
• Precision Test & Measurement Instruments for the Pro Audio Marketplace — John Clough, PCB Piezotronics
• New Fine QC 2018 & New Fine R+D 2018 — Peter Larsen, LOUDSOFT
• Benefits of Wireless High-Definition Multi-Channel Audio in the Current and Future Home Theater Landscape — Tony Ostrom, WiSA
• WiSA Testing — Justin St. Clair, WiSA
• Challenges in Design of High-Performance Compression Drivers — Dr. Alex Voishvillo, Harman Professional Solutions
• Product Development Process Control Planning — Steve Willenborg, Eastern Asia Technology
• Audio Engineering as Consumer Content: What Was Once Only Behind the Scenes Can Influence Consumers — Jude Mansilla, Founder, Head-Fi.org.
• What’s New in Headphone Technology—Mike Klasco, Menlo Scientific
• Bleeding Edge Speaker and Microphone Technologies for 2018 — Mike Klasco, Menlo Scientific
• Design of Bruel & Kjaer High Frequency Head & Torso Simulator (HATS) Type 5128—Vince Rey, Bruel & Kjaer
• Advances in Tinsel Wire for Micro Speakers and Larger Drivers — Ian Ko, Maeden Innovation
 
There's always something new to learn about cone and spider materials with Matthias Ringpfeil, Technical Director, Dr Kurt Muller.
NTi Audio's Brian MacMillan and Gregor Schmidle, always available to help you solve the greater acoustic measurement challenges!
For more updates check out the new ALMA website at almaint.org
See you at AISE 2019!
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