Customer "Top Mixer Trophy" - it isn't what you think!

    This morning I received an email from customer Tom Edwards who sent me a photo of his "Top Mixer" Trophy along with an article he wrote for the Audio Engineering Society Journal.  I am sharing it below so you can find out all about the AES Nashville event, this amazing trophy and what it represents!  Here's Tom:

    AES Nashville – 13th Annual “Spring Mixer”

    The "Top Mixer" perpetual trophy. The "Top Mixer" perpetual trophy.

    "The Nashville Section of the AES held its thirteenth annual “Spring Mixer” competition on April 28. Area schools with audio recording programs were invited to participate in the annual student mixing competition. Participating from area schools were students from Belmont University, Middle Tennessee State University, SAE Institute-Nashville, The Art Institute of Tennessee – Nashville, The Blackbird Academy, and University of North Alabama.

    Each team was given identical raw original studio tracks recorded at Blue Grotto Sound studio in Nashville, identical mixing environments, and eight hours to create a stereo mix and complete the paperwork as recommended by the AES and the Producer / Engineer Wing of NARAS. Entering the competition, the students were only informed of the judging criteria and what equipment they would be using. The mixing was performed on April 23 and 24 in six identical Pro Tools HD mixing rooms at the Country Music Television audio post rooms in Nashville, TN. The students were informed as to what version of software to expect on the Pro Tools, room monitoring equipment, and what plug-ins would be available on those systems.

    Rules prohibited any materials being brought in, re-recording of any new material outside of the Pro Tools systems, or any outside assistance.

    The final mix created by each team, using tracks from a recording session of “Summer Days” by the group Track 45, was judged on six elements, Fidelity, Imaging – Width/Depth, Dynamic Range, Mix Balance, Preparation for Mastering and Documentation-completion of page 5 of AES/P&E Wing Session Documentation.

    This year the mixing engineer, Sean Spence, spoke to the students before the session and made them aware of the sound he was going for on the finished mix and emphasized the feeling of the song.

    Jill Courtney served as Mistress of Ceremonies. A panel of judges comprised of industry professionals graded the mixes and presented their critiques at the April 28 meeting. We returned to the West End United Methodist Church’s “Fourth Floor Theater” in Nashville. The judges included – Writer, Producer, Mixer – John Jaszcz, Sales, Promotion and Record Executive – Dick Williams, Live Sound and recording engineer – Randy Gardner, Producer, Engineer, & Mixer – David Thoener, Studio Designer and accomplished Engineer, Producer, and Studio Owner – Carl Tatz, and Recording Eand Mixing Engineer – Adam Smith. The judges were not told what mix went with which school.

    This is quite likely the only chance for the students to be critiqued in a completely subjective environment. The winner of this year's competition was the team from Belmont University, comprised of Shawn Gough, Kevin Freund, and Tat Sablatura. Second place went to the Art Institute of Tennessee-Nashville, and third place was SAE Institute – Nashville. The winning school received a MikTek CV3 microphone and each winning team member received a MikTek C1 microphone, Avid Pro Tools, Slate Digital Everything Bundle, Auralex Roominators, Auralex MOPAD, and a half day mix session at Ble Grotto Sound studios. Other prizes that were so generously supplied by our sponsors – Fabfilter Pro-Q2, Presonus Studio One Professional and Presonus R80 speakers. Iron Mountain Entertainment Services partnered with the AES Nashville Section to furnish finely tailored upper torso custom garments (event T-Shirts).

    Belmont University took home the coveted "Top Mixer" perpetual trophy that will be proudly displayed with appropriate bragging rights until next year."

    Thank you Tom for sharing your story with us!  What an awesome event and can't wait to hear about next year's competition!

    Cheers, Jessica

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