My wife and I drove up to Las Vegas on Monday afternoon and went straight to the Venetian Hotel to check out the High Resolution Audio TechZone showcase in the Bellini Room. After making our way through the canal shops and through the plaza, we found the room one escalator ride down. The event is being staged in a subdivided ballroom about 70 x 50 feet. Along the far wall were the booths for HDtracks (a double wide) and AIX Records/iTrax (there was an actual booth set up in spite of the fact that I had decided to bring my own set up). On the opposite side of the room there were three 10 x 10 booths. Chad Kassem’s SupperHiRez.com booth is near the door, Blue Coast Music is located in the middle and Native DSD was third in line.
Against the wall in between the rows of booths was a small platform area with chairs for the panelists that would happen yesterday afternoon and about 25 chairs aligned in front. Mytek Digital had their booth between the two doors along the fourth wall.
I think it was Cookie that pointed out that the organizers seem to have strategically positioned the vendors based on their support of DSD vs. PCM. All of the DSD supporters were against one wall and HDtracks and iTrax were along another. Norman Chesky mentioned it to me as well as we spoke later that afternoon.
When we arrived almost everything was set up. I went back to the car and wheeled in my trusty Oppo BDP-95, my Benchmark DAC2 and the HDMI to S/P DIF converter box that I purchased to get 96 kHz/24-bit audio into the DAC2 from the HDMI stream out of the Oppo. It’s a Kanex unit and works great. After a couple of false starts, I finally got the “2X” blue light on the front of the Benchmark unit to go on. Success.
I also unpacked the Sony HPA S1 and set up a large plasma TV that Sony had made available. They provided a Vaio computer as well but I didn’t really have any use for it. Since we weren’t allowed to sell any products, I had an array of postcards on the draped table, the Oppo playing my sampler and the HAP S1 as well. After a visit to the Astel & Kern suite in the Tower, I set up one of their units as well.
The major events of the day were the two panels.
The first at 1 pm had a couple of folks from the major labels including my friend Jim Belcher and Mark Piibe from Sony. The rest of the panel was comprised of Jared Sacks from Chanel Classics, Norman Chesky from HDtracks, Cookie Marenco from Blue Coast, Chad Kassem from SuperHiRez and myself. The moderator was a music writer from Billboard magazine named Alex Pham.
As it neared 1 pm, the seats filled quickly as an additional 30 people filed in to what was to become a standing room only panel. IT was gratifying to see so many people show up for a “High Resolution Audio” event. I recognized a lot of the folks in the room. There were people from NARAS (the Grammy organization), others from the AES (Audio Engineering Society) and of high-end equipment vendors.
The panel was informative and well organized. We offered our thoughts on the definition of high-resolution music, the appeal of high fidelity files across demographics and the impact of this emerging niche market. I recorded the entire presentation and one I get back to LA from next week’s vacation, I’ll see if it’s worth posting.
Another installment tomorrow…