There’s definitely a different type of attendee that comes to an audio trade show on a weekday than the Saturday type. It might have something to do with the fact the Friday’s attendees either take the day off of work or are retired. But I found myself doing a lot more talking on Friday about high-resolution audio than selling. I talked to other vendors, press folks, advocates for this format or that format and one of the biggest names in analog tape. It’s nice to talk but some folks occupy a little bit too much table time.
However, yesterday was different. First, there were a lot more women. And I don’t just mean ladies that are there because their husbands or boyfriends are audiophiles. They were there to explore new equipment, hear high-resolution audio recordings and get information on all things audiophile. A few women that came by and asked very direct questions particularly impressed me. They were very well informed but still looking to learn more.
From the opening bell until close, the Irvine II room was buzzing with attendees. It’s really hard to find time to get a break because you feel like you might miss a sale or a good moment with a press person. My friend Todd of MA Recordings never leaves his booth. He eats his meals while selling and demoing. He also has a couple of bottles of wine tucked away in his booth…and they weren’t there for later.
Early yesterday morning, I transferred a couple high-resolution tracks from 60 of my older recordings to my new HTC One M8 Harman Kardon edition Smartphone. I’ve been playing with the amazing piece of equipment for a couple of weeks but have only recently gotten serious about it. I’ve seen the ad campaign for the new device and heard the radio spot for the “Clarify” technology on my drive home from the show last night (which went great for 50 miles…and then I got caught on PCH for an hour inching around an accident…oh well).
This new phone is amazing…and not for the Clarify lossy compression restoration algorithm, which I will investigate later. It’s amazing because it sounds so good. I pulled the HTC HK edition phone out all day yesterday, fired it up and let people listen to any tracks they wanted from any album. They just stood there holding this small phone in their hand and listened…and their jaws dropped!
One the other end of the table I have the Oppo BDP-95, the new HA-1, a Benchmark DAC2 HGC and a couple of pairs of PM-1 headphones but the HTC phone and a set of Sennheiser phones certainly held it own. Once I got my tracks loaded onto the M8, things took a definite turn for the better. The files that were pre-loaded on the M8 lacked dynamics, were somewhat distant sounding and had excessive amounts of high-frequency noise. They were PCM conversions from DSD files…not a great way to demonstrate a new Smartphone technology.
But when I played well-recorded PCM tracks that actually have real world dynamic range and clean spectra, are produced with wide stereo imaging and have a consistent tune to tune levels, the sound was dramatically improved.
So the question is…do we really need dedicated devices made by audiophile companies that play “high-resolution” files? Or will every future phone move up to the standards that HTC and Harman Kardon have set. Stay tuned. This is going to get interesting.
Following the show yesterday, I visited the Atrium Hotel pool area to have a drink with Scott Wilkinson and a dozen of his AVS Forum friends. It was very enjoyable to exchange questions and answers with these enthusiastic music lovers. Then there was the drive home…argh.