A Trip Most Worthwhile: Community, Technology & Education At LAB DemoFest 2009

Another big reason I took the trouble to attend this thing was the presentation by Bill Hanley. This was the deal-maker for me

I have a keen interest in the history of live sound reinforcement, the gear that was used way back when, and the associated advancements of technology.

I’m also very interested in new technology, even if the price tag of the cutting-edge stuff means the chances of me using it any time soon are a pipe dream.

And, I also like to just hang out and talk shop with other sound guys.

A recent event planned by some ProSoundWeb community members, loosely termed “LAB DemoFest 2009,” combined all of these things and more.

It was not unlike a trade show, except better in some ways, a smaller, more personal event.

Held over the course of two days at the Wachusett Village Inn & Conference Center in Westminster, Massachusetts, DemoFest offered product displays, technical presentations, and live performances all taking place in the same room.

A cash bar on the evening of day one and buffet lunch on day two were also provided by the host facility in the main event room, along with the normal bar and on-site restaurant.

To get there I had to drive the entire length of I-84, and then some, but the round-trip of more than 500 miles was well worth the effort. I’m pretty sure that dozens of audio professionals from all levels of the industry that were on hand – some of them traveling even greater distances to attend – felt the same way.

The bulk of DemoFest planning was done by David Nickerson, with Jason Dermer supplying a rig consisting of EONA ADRaudio loudspeakers and an APB-Dynasonics Spectra console, a 24-channel side-car, and as sweet a rack of outboard as you’ll ever see.

EONA ADRaudio and APB-Dynasonics were not only represented by the presence of their gear, but also by the attendance of company principals. This was also the case with Rational Acoustics. These folks weren’t just hired hands sent to represent these companies, they’re the guys whose names are on the door.

Other manufacturers displaying products included Allen & Heath, Danley Sound Labs, Lectrosonics, EAW, Sennheiser, Shure, and Soundcraft.

On day one, David Missal of Sennheiser and Tim Vear of Shure each gave an individual presentation of their company’s products, served on a panel for a discussion of advanced RF topics. They did a lot to quell the apprehension so many of us have over the new FCC rules. Apparently, the sky is NOT falling.

Other highlights included Jamie Anderson of Rational Acoustics providing insights on the use of Smaart, and Brian Doser’s overview of recording live shows with Pro Tools.

Another big reason I took the trouble to attend this thing was the presentation by Bill Hanley. This was the deal-maker for me.

Bill Hanley is as close to a living legend in live sound as there will ever be. He was at FOH when Bob Dylan came out with an electric band at Newport, and he designed the sound system for Woodstock. He may even be the first guy to ever use stage monitors. (OK, I won’t hold that against him.)

Mr. Hanley is a treasure chest of live sound anecdotes. He also gave the event one of its biggest tributes by deciding to stay and attend day two, noting that “he felt the need to be with his kind.”

Thanks Bill, I’m honored to be thought of as one of your kind.

Be sure to check out Dave’s Photo Gallery tour of DemoFest.

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