Established in 1948, the Audio Engineering Society (AES) draws its membership from engineers, scientists, other individuals with an interest or involvement in the professional audio industry. The membership largely comprises engineers developing devices or products for audio, and persons working in audio content production. It also includes acousticians, audiologists, academics, and those in other disciplines related to audio. The AES is the only worldwide professional society devoted exclusively to audio technology.
The Society develops, reviews and publishes engineering standards for the audio and related media industries, and produces the AES Conventions, which are held twice a year alternating between Europe and the US. The AES and individual regional or national sections also hold AES Conferences on different topics during the year.
The idea of a society dedicated solely to audio engineering had been discussed for some time before the first meeting but was first proposed in print in a letter by Frank E. Sherry, of Victoria, Texas, in the December 1947 issue of the magazine Audio Engineering. A New York engineer and audio consultant, C.J. LeBel, then published a letter agreeing, and saying that a group of audio professionals had already been discussing such a thing and that they were interested in holding an organizational meeting. He asked interested persons to contact him for details. The response was enthusiastic and encouraging. Fellow engineer Norman C. Pickering published the date for an organizational meeting and announced the appointment of LeBel as acting chairman, and himself as acting secretary.
The organizational meeting was held at the RCA Victor Studios in New York City on February 17, 1948. Acting chairman Mr. LeBel spoke first, emphasizing the professional, non-commercial, independent nature of the proposed organization. Acting Secretary Norman Pickering then discussed the need for a professional organization that could foster an exchange of knowledge in this quickly-growing field. The group agreed to form the Audio Engineering Society and confirmed the acting executive committee, which consisted of John D. Colvin, C. J. LeBel, C. G. McProud, Norman C. Pickering and Chester O. Rackey.
The first AES technical membership meeting followed on March 11, with about 3500 attendees. The guest speaker at the first meeting was Harry F. Olson, a prominent engineer, and scientist at RCA and author of Acoustical Engineering, who spoke on Problems of High-Fidelity Reproduction.