Yamaha's Nils-Peter Keller welcomes the guests

The annual Yamaha Commercial Audio System Designer’s Conference (SDC) is always a highlight for the company’s specially-invited guest list. Taking place in a different European country each year, in 2018 France was the host. This was why, for two days at the end of September, over 300 audio industry professionals from 36 countries joined the families and fun at Disneyland Paris.


Co-hosted by Yamaha Music Europe France and Nexo, this year’s SDC was subtitled Experiencing High Quality Sound In Relation To The Five Senses and featured around 70 sessions, which mixed experiential, immersive demonstrations with lectures and discussions. The programme was organised by Yamaha Music Europe’s Ron Bakker.

“My goal was to provide new ideas and insights into new audio technologies and applications, as a basis for discussions – not only about the technologies and their scientific backgrounds, but also about what we do with them now, and what we plan to do with them in the future,” he said.

The highlights of the conference were many and varied. Immersive demonstrations included Learprint: When Technique Becomes Art by Alain Français, which recreated the complex acoustics of a classical orchestra, with guests able to wander through the installation to understand the different acoustic perspectives for each section of musicians and the conductor.

Using an impressive surround array of over 260 Nexo ID24 loudspeakers, the demonstration of Wave Field Synthesis by Casper Schipper and Ji Youn Kang from The Game of Life Foundation proved so popular that an additional session had to be arranged, while Ron himself showed off his musical skills when demonstrating the principles behind Acoustic Field Control systems.

Meanwhile, two very popular spaces were the Wine Room – where Sungyoung Kim of the Rochester Institute of Technology demonstrated the theory of cognitive plasticity, by inviting participants to express a preferred mix balance before and after a glass of high quality French wine – and the Chocolate Room, where Pierre-Andre Aebischer and Dominique Bettens of PAA Consulting delivered a virtual reality experience of how sound affects the body, including the senses of sight and taste.

Complementing the immersive demonstrations were sessions which discussed a wide array of relevant subjects, from the design of variable acoustics, the aesthetics of pro audio equipment design and the history and outlook regarding immersive music, to networking technologies, cloud services, artificial intelligence in mixing and how the audio team at Disneyland Paris manages the audio at its live events.

Of course guests were also given plenty of opportunity throughout both days to mingle, discuss their work, exchange ideas and to enjoy high quality food, as well as the sights and sounds of Disney!

The venue was chosen because such a high end entertainment complex relies on the creative use of audio, while its excellent conference facilities and location close to both Charles de Gaulle airport and Nexo’s Paris headquarters also made it the ideal choice in France.

“These conferences are a great opportunity to meet people in a much more intimate setting, compared to the crowded environment of the major trade shows,” said Julian Carro, EMEA system solution account director for Audinate, who presented a workshop on Dante Domain Manager. “The trade shows serve a very good purpose, but this was a different angle and was a great opportunity to learn about new things that Yamaha and others are bringing to the market. It was a really good event.”

As well as being interesting and enjoyable for the participants, the interactive sessions also served a useful experimental purpose for the presenters. Sungyoung Kim expressed satisfaction at the results he gained.

“I saw many happy faces. The experiment in my session went very well and actually produced insightful results which we may share later with the attendants,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ron Bakker was very pleased with the two days. “Everybody who attended this year’s SDC gained new insights into what is possible with sound, so I am very happy,” he said. “We are very grateful to Nexo, Audinate, The Game of Life Foundation, Institute National d’Audiovisuel, PAA Consulting, Rochester Institute of Technology, Pracownia Akustyczna, Learprint, Rupert Neve Designs, Universita di Parma and, of course, Disneyland Paris for all making a major contribution to what was a highly successful event.”