The 2024 AES Student Recording Competition

Demonstrate your recording and mixing skills by participating in the AES Student Recording Competition! It’s your chance to network, gain professional feedback, and win some great prizes. Open to AES Student Members, this competition invites traditional acoustic, studio, and sound for visual media submissions to be assessed by experts. We invite students to put their creativity and technical skills on display. Presentations and feedback occur at AES Conventions in Europe and the USA, with in-person and hybrid entry options available. Please note that a faculty advisor’s endorsement is required, and there can only be two entries per category from each school/college/university.

To Enter:

1) Register for the conventions, selecting either Student All Access or Hybrid Competition Entry.
2) The Student Recording Competition submission link will be emailed in your registration confirmation.

Submissions open: April 15th.*
Deadline to submit: May 20th.*
Finalists will be announced: June 8th.*
Presentations, winners, and prizes announced during the Madrid convention.
(* Dates subject to change, keep checking back here.)

Categories - Madrid 2024

  • Traditional Acoustic Recording
  • Traditional Studio Recording
  • Modern Studio Recording and Electronic Music
  • Sound for Visual Media

Rules & Policies

Introduction Demonstrate your recording and mixing skills by participating in the AES Student Recording Competition! It’s your chance to network, gain professional feedback, and win some great prizes. Open to AES Student Members, this competition invites traditional acoustic, studio, and sound for visual media submissions to be assessed by experts. We invite students to put their creativity and technical skills on display. Presentations and feedback occur at AES Conventions in Europe and the USA, with in-person and hybrid entry options available. Please note that a faculty advisor’s endorsement is required, and there can only be two entries per category from each school/college/university.

Categories

  1. Traditional Acoustic Recording
  2. Traditional Studio Recording
  3. Modern Studio Recording and Electronic Music
  4. Sound for Visual Media

 

Entry Regulations

  • Enter in up to two different categories with unique recordings.
  • Two entries per institution per category are permitted.
  • Faculty advisors must confirm/endorse entries no later than 5 days after the submission deadline.
  • Documentation and presentations must be in English.

 

Eligibility

  • You must be a current AES Student Member at the time of submission and the convention (join at aes.org/join).
  • Submissions must be engineered during enrollment at an educational institution.
  • Instructor/professor/advisor endorsement required.
  • Graduates may enter in the year post-graduation, one time, with a project completed as a student.
  • Projects cannot be re-entered in future competitions.

 

Category Descriptions

              Up to 5-minute stereo, un-mastered submissions:

  1. Traditional Acoustic Recording: Capture live acoustic performances in natural acoustic environments. Focus on microphone techniques and the art of recording without overdubs.
  1. Traditional Studio Recording: Showcase your skill in multitrack studio recordings. No pre-recorded loops or MIDI sequences. Demonstrate your mastery of microphones and studio techniques in a stereo mix.
  1. Modern Studio Recording & Electronic Music: Let your creativity run wild with any sound sources and techniques. Embrace modern production in your mix that can include programming, sampling, and more.
  1. Sound for Visual Media: Create an audio narrative for any visual content. Combine dialogue, music, foley and sound design to enhance the visual story.

 

Collaboration

  • Team entries (up to 3 engineers) are welcome; all engineers must be AES members; projects are credited to the submitting institution.
  • Acknowledge your team, but just one person should submit the entry.
  • Only presenters (live or virtual) at the convention will be considered for awards.

 

How to Enter

  • Use the links provided after registration to submit your work.
  • Ensure your faculty advisor is ready to verify your submission.
  • Suggest a category for your entry, but the final call is ours.

 

Required Documents & Files

  • Submit audio and video files with specifications detailed in the detailed rules on the website.
  • Include a written presentation describing your project (up to 6 pages, 1200 words).
  • Record a video presentation about your project, up to 5 minutes maximum.
  • Maintain anonymity across all documentation and files, using only your AES member number, and no full names.

 

(No) Mastering

  • Submit unmastered mixes that showcase your mix’s final form.

Use of AI

  • The use of AI (or any) automatic mixing or mastering services is not allowed.

File-Naming

  • Follow the convention specified in the rules on the website, using your AES number and category for identification.
  • Audio in .wav format; video in .mp4 or .mov formats; documents in PDF.
  • Immersive audio submissions follow a designated naming convention.

 

Judging

  • Enjoy the anonymous review process and detailed feedback from professionals.
  • Stand out with ambitious projects for potential bonus points.
  • Criteria cover the quality and creativity, and technical skill of your recording and mixing.
  • The Director of the Student Recording Competition oversees all aspects and reserves the right to disqualify entries.

 

Awards

  • Achieve recognition with Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Honorable Mention based on your work’s professional quality.

 

Prizes

  • Prizes serve as a bonus to your achievement, varying based on sponsor generosity.

 

Important Notes

  • All decisions by the Chair of the Recording Competition are final.
  • Adherence to guidelines is essential to avoid disqualification.
  • No late entries.
  • The Director of the AES Student Recording Competition handles inquiries and clarifications.

 

Documentation Examples

Review documentation examples to guide your submission.

 

Please note these are made with the OLD category numbering system, but are still accurate and exemplary to what is expected in terms of content.

  • Category 1 Documentation Examples:

Click here to view the 1st example
Click here to view the 2nd example

 

Now please read the detailed rules below…

Welcome to the AES Student Recording Competition—an exciting chance for students at AES International Conventions to showcase their audio production talents, gain invaluable feedback, and earn recognition as well as some exciting prizes. Whether you’re participating alone or as part of a team, you’ll need a faculty advisor to endorse your entry, representing your school in up to two categories or subcategories:

 

Category 1: Traditional Acoustic Recording

Category 2: Traditional Studio Recording

Category 3: Modern Studio& Electronic Music

Category 4: Sound for Visual Media

 

Remember, you can enter in a maximum of two categories, with each submission being unique. Each academic institution is limited to two entries per category. The Director of the AES Recording Competition oversees the judging and awards process, ensuring a fair and comprehensive evaluation.

 

Faculty advisors play a critical role by confirming submissions through an email verification process within a week of the upload deadline. Make sure to provide your advisor’s valid university email and inform them about the submission timeline.

 

We encourage submissions to focus on your best mixing work, aiming for clarity and sonic creativity without resorting to excessive loudness or peak limiting. Mixes should be free from digital distortion or clipping, with no peaks exceeding 0dbFS. This approach helps preserve musical dynamics and tonal balance, essential for a standout submission.

 

Even if you’re not competing, we invite you to attend the competition events at the AES Convention. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience top-notch projects from peers, learn from judges’ insights, and engage with the wider AES community. This program isn’t just about competition; it’s a platform for learning, improvement, and celebrating high-quality music and sound production in a supportive environment.

To participate in the AES Recording Competition, you must:

 

  • Be a current Student Member of the Audio Engineering Society. Join at org/join. Please note that fees vary by region.
  • Engineer the nominated recording while you are a student affiliated with a college audio program.
  • Be accepted by your faculty advisor as a submission from your school or section.
  • Register to attend the convention you are competing at either in-person or remotely. Student Registration Confirmation email will include the appropriate submission link.
  • Submit your recording and documentation to the submission link in the registration confirmation email. Be sure to submit your recording according to the submission guidelines prior to the deadline.

 

If a project is engineered by a team, all team members must, at minimum, be student AES members. It is not required that all student members are affiliated with the same university audio program, however, the student who submits the project will be the submission representative from their respective university. This submission will be verified with the associated university from which it was submitted. To present as a team at a convention all team members must meet the complete eligibility criteria.

 

Violation of these rules will result in disqualification. Late entries will not be accepted under any circumstances.

 

Once an entry is submitted to an AES Student Recording Competition, it is disqualified from future competitions. This also means submitting additional songs from the same album, scenes from a movie, or any additional material from a whole and complete project is prohibited.

  • Category 1: Traditional Acoustic Recording celebrates the art of capturing live performances of acoustic instruments, vocalists, and ensembles. Ideal settings include, but are not limited to, performance halls, churches, theaters, soundstages, pavilions, and environments that naturally enhance acoustic sounds. • Performance Setting: Recordings can be made with or without an audience, emphasizing the natural acoustic character of the venue. • Recording Technique: A mix of individual microphones and arrays should capture the music, considering balance, spatial perspective, and the venue’s acoustics. The aim is to reflect the true sound of the performance and space. • Final Production: Live mixing is acceptable, as is multitrack recording followed by post-production mixing. Editing is permitted; however, overdubs are not. • Music Genre: Open to classical, jazz, folk, and more, as long as it’s live and suits the acoustic environment. Electronic instruments must be presented acoustically through amplification and captured live. • Submission Specifics: • Emphasis on live recording techniques typical of classical and acoustic music. • All sounds must be acoustic or electroacoustic, with no overdubs. • Editing and post-production mixing are allowed but should respect the live performance integrity. • Entrants must perform all recording and mixing. • Submissions must be in stereo format. • Dolby Atmos submissions are optional. While not part of the main evaluation, feedback will be provided for educational purposes. • Entries must not exceed a 5-minute runtime, and must not be mastered. This category focuses on the craftsmanship of recording in natural acoustic settings, highlighting the importance of microphone placement, the recording environment, and the authentic capture of live performances.

Category 2: Traditional Studio Recording is suitable for recordings that are created in a recording studio or similar facility using multitrack studio techniques and technology. Music of any genre is permitted, and both editing and overdubs are allowed. Electronic instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, and keyboards may be recorded direct and/or by acoustic means.

• Emphasis on the craft of multitrack studio recording and mixing.
• All live acoustic or electroacoustic sources.
• Editing and overdubs allowed but not required.
• No sample loops or sample replacement from synthesized or prerecorded sources.
• No MIDI sequences.
• All recording and mixing performed by the entrant(s).
• Stereo delivery format (required).
• Dolby Atmos submissions are optional. While not part of the main evaluation, feedback will be provided for educational purposes.
• Not exceed 5 min runtime.
• Must not be mastered.

Conventional signal processing techniques (e.g., equalization, dynamics, reverberation, etc.) during recording and mixing are permitted. Since this category is defined by the creative and proficient use of microphones and studio recording techniques, MIDI sequences, sample replacements, and sample loops from pre-recorded sources are prohibited. In other words, all sonic and musical elements must be performed by musicians and recorded by the contestants specifically for the project. Mixes based on highly processed and synthesized sources should be proposed for Category 3.

Category 3: Modern Studio Recording & Electronic Music welcomes a broad spectrum of multitrack studio projects, specifically those not fitting into the confines of Category 2. This category is characterized by its openness to all forms of sound sources, recording techniques, and creative production approaches, including editing, processing, and mixing.

• Utilization of the recording studio as a creative instrument.
• Freedom to mix real and virtual sound sources.
• Projects can be recorded in any studio environment onto multitrack tape or a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), fully programmed on a computer, or a blend of these methods.
• All contemporary recording techniques, signal processing, and editing strategies are permissible.
• Programming, sequencing, sampling, use of sample loops, and sample replacement/enhancement are all encouraged.
• Entire recording, production, and mixing must be executed by the participants.
• Submissions must not exceed a 5-minute runtime.
• Submissions must not be mastered.
• Dolby Atmos submissions are optional. While not part of the main evaluation, feedback will be provided for educational purposes.

Participants are free to explore music from any genre, such as pop, rock, dance, rap, hip-hop, electronica, live DJ performances, and remixes. The guiding principle here is flexibility, with the only constraint being adherence to copyright laws. This sub-category encourages the innovative use of samples, MIDI, electronic instruments, and other creative methods. However, the primary focus of the AES Student Recording Competition is to evaluate the excellence in audio recording and production, with compositional elements being considered secondary.

Category 4: Sound for Visual Media focuses on audio recordings crafted to enhance visual storytelling across various platforms. Whether it’s for narrative or documentary films, commercials, video games, or any digital visual content, this category celebrates the synergy between sound and picture.

What to Submit:
• Your work should enrich the visual experience, incorporating elements like dialogue, sound effects, and musical scores. These can come from direct production sound, libraries, synthesized sounds, or original recordings by the participant.
• Students should submit a .mov or quicktime video file with 48kHz, 24 bit audio.
• The audio must be deliberately designed to accompany the video content, ensuring a cohesive viewing experience.
• Submissions should not include music videos, live concerts, or studio session videos where music is the sole focus. Instead, each entry must feature significant non-musical sound elements — think dialogue, sound effects, character voices, object sounds, or environmental ambience.
• Video game projects can present raw gameplay audio laid over captured video, or showcase adaptive audio implemented through audio engines/middleware, combined with video.
• While creativity in sound production is encouraged, the competition primarily evaluates excellence in audio recording and production. The compositional aspects of your submission are considered secondary.

Submission Requirements:
• Craftsmanship in recording, editing, and mixing sounds to complement visual media is paramount.
• A blend of dialogue, music, foley, ambience and sound design is encouraged.
• All editing and mixing must be done by the entrant(s).
• Entries are limited to a 5-minute runtime.
• Required submission format is stereo, with 5.1 Surround Sound or Dolby Atmos formats as optional.
• Dolby Atmos submissions, while optional, will not influence the competition outcome. However, feedback will be provided for educational purposes.
• Submission must not be mastered.

Announcement Date: Finalists will be announced 1-2 weeks prior to the start of the AES Convention. It’s important to note that the judging panel holds the discretion to determine the number of finalists, which will be based on the overall number of entries received.

Submission Guidelines:
• Each student is allowed one recording per category, with a limit of two submissions in total.
• The Director of the Recording Competition and other selected professionals will categorize submissions into their respective categories. While participants may indicate their preferred category, the final decision based on recording and musical style, will be determined by the Education Committee. This decision is final.
• Submissions will be organized by AES member number and forwarded to the appointed judges for evaluation across all categories, including Traditional Acoustic Recording, Traditional Studio Recording, Modern Studio Recording & Electronic Music, and Sound for Visual Media, among others. The criteria used for these decisions are detailed within the category descriptions and available on the AES website.

Competition Program and Presentation: During the AES Convention, the Student Recording Competition will feature a program that includes:
• Playback of Submissions: Each entry will be showcased to the attendees and judging panel.
• Student Presentations: Participants will have the opportunity to present their work in a session lasting up to 5 minutes, explaining their recording process and artistic decisions.
• Feedback Session: Following the presentation, there will be a 5-7 minute feedback period with the judges, offering constructive critiques and insights.

This format is designed to provide participants with a platform to highlight their work, engage in meaningful dialogue with professionals, and gain valuable feedback on their recording techniques and creative choices.

 


Authorship of your submission, just as in the case of academic articles, is of the utmost importance. While it is presumed that you may have worked with numerous individuals (producers, musicians, etc.), this work should be considered your own to claim and present (what would be considered the primary author of a paper). In many disciplines, including our own, collaboration is the norm and issues of authorship can be controversial. However, please understand that all engineers credited must have been involved throughout a majority of the production process.

If you worked with several individuals who deserve to share in the credit of the project, you may include their names as collaborators. However, note that only one individual may submit the project (as there is only one primary engineer / author of the work). As well, please understand that all individuals listed as collaborators must meet all competition eligibility guidelines.

It is not required that all student collaborators be part of the same/single audio program, however, all collaborating engineers music be AES student members, and it is the responsibility of the submitter to communicate information about the finalists to their team-members.

Only finalists presenting at the convention may receive awards or certificates. To allow for multiple certificates to be made for all student collaborators, please be sure to include all student collaborator information during the finalist’s presentation and documentation. While the Competition may be able to duplicate prizes for co-presenters, it is not always possible and winning students should anticipate only one set of prizes. Prizes awarded to production teams are split between team members.

Each contestant is required to submit detailed documentation alongside their audio mixes to provide insight into their recording and mixing process. This documentation is crucial for understanding the methodology and technical approach taken during the project’s creation.

Documentation Guidelines:
• Language: All documentation must be submitted in English.
• Length and Content: Specific methodologies, techniques and signal chains can be shared via various methods of documentation. Documentation should be between 4 to 6 pages and 800 to 1200 words, inclusive of all session documentation, photographs, screenshots and illustrations. Any content beyond this limit will not be reviewed by the judges.
• Templates: Students should feel free to use standard session documentation templates recommended by the AES Technical Committee and the Recording Academy’s Producers and Engineers Wing. These templates ensure consistency and comprehensiveness in presenting your project. More information can be found at the link below.
• AES: Recommendations for Delivery of Recorded Music Projects

• Visuals: You may include up to 8 photographs, screenshots or illustrations to support your documentation.
• Format: Documentation must be in PDF (or JPEG/PNG in case of photos and screenshots) format, submitted in a zipped folder along with the audio files, adhering to the competition’s submission guidelines.
• Category Suggestion: If submitting under Category 1-3, please include a suggested category on the first page.

Anonymity Requirements:
• Your documentation should be entirely anonymized, using only your AES member number for identification.
• Refer to individuals involved in the project (e.g., performers, composers, technicians) by their first names and the initials of their surnames.
• Do not disclose recording, mixing, or mastering locations, or any details that could hint at your institution/university affiliation. This is to ensure the competition’s fairness and impartiality.

Failure to adhere to these documentation and anonymity guidelines may lead to disqualification from the competition.

Judging Overview: Entries will be anonymously reviewed by judges about a month before the convention, offering them ample time for a thorough evaluation in their preferred listening environments. The ambition and difficulty of projects will be considered, with particularly challenging entries potentially earning extra points. It’s worth keeping this in mind when selecting your project for submission.

Evaluation Criteria:

• Categories 1-3: Recording
• Quality of recorded tracks and mix
• Tonal balance, tempo, timing, and musical dynamics
• Dynamic range, track levels, and balances
• Panning, creative processing, soundstage, and spatial qualities
• Category 4: Sound for Picture
• Quality and creativity of soundtrack components
• Appropriate foley, sound design, ambiences
• Quality of dialogue recordings and editing
• Effectiveness in supporting and enhancing the visual narrative and emotional impact

Finalist Presentations: During the convention, finalists will have the opportunity to showcase their recordings. We encourage you to prepare slides or graphics illustrating your recording setup and production process. This is your chance to share any previously anonymized information with attendees.

Interactive Feedback: Judges may provide comments and ask questions before finalizing their decisions. Details on the locations and times for these Recording Presentations will be available in the convention’s Technical Program.

Communication: Please note, all judge feedback, critiques, and finalist presentations must be conducted in English. This ensures clarity and inclusiveness in the evaluation and feedback process.

In our Student Recording event, recognition is based on merit rather than competition. Instead of traditional rankings, finalists can earn Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Honorable Mention certificates based on the quality of their work. Judges may award multiple certificates in each category, reflecting the possibility of numerous exceptional projects. Awards are flexible, with any mix of Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Honorable Mentions possible. Additionally, it’s conceivable that some categories may not have entries reaching these levels of recognition. Judges are not required to select finalists for every category, emphasizing our focus on celebrating excellence and fostering a supportive, collegial atmosphere among student participants.

Our awards recognize recordings that stand out not just among student projects but hold their own in the professional realm. Here’s what we’re listening for:

• Gold: This top honor goes to recordings that hit an extraordinary mark both artistically and technically. If your submission could not only compete but potentially win awards in the commercial market, you could be looking at a Gold.

• Silver: Silver awards highlight recordings that achieve excellence on both the artistic and technical fronts. These submissions are strong contenders in the commercial marketplace, showcasing the high caliber of your work.

• Bronze: Bronze recognizes very good recordings that meet professional standards and demonstrate potential for success in the commercial arena.

• Honorable Mention: This accolade is given to submissions that are good by professional benchmarks, underscoring the talent and promise of the engineer behind the work.

Prizes as a Token of Appreciation: Awards from the AES serve primarily as a prestigious acknowledgment of exceptional student work. Prizes, while a bonus, are a way of extending our congratulations. These may include audio equipment, software, and various other items, reflecting the support and intent of our generous sponsors.

Distribution Details:

• Authority: The Director of the Recording Compeition has the final say in prize distribution.
• Considerations: Decisions are based on:
• The quantity and value of prizes
• Sponsor intentions
• The number and recognition level of awardees
• The finalist count

• Recipient Note: Prizes complement, not replace, your honorary certificates, symbolizing significant achievement.

Sponsorship and Prize Handling:

• Commitments: Prize availability hinges on manufacturer generosity.
• Participant Responsibility: Winners at the convention may need to manage the logistics of prize receipt, which for international students could mean arranging shipment to avoid taxes or customs issues. On-site shipping services are available to assist.

Remember, the true reward is the recognition of your outstanding accomplishments by the AES. Prizes are just the cherry on top!

Please note these are made with the OLD category numbering system, but are still accurate and exemplary to what is expected in terms of content.

Category 1 Documentation Examples:

Click here to view the 1st example

Click here to view the 2nd example

Category 2 or 3 Documentation Examples:
Click here to view the 1st example

Click here to view the 2nd example