Audio trade shows always slow down on Sundays and the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was no different…especially when the Broncos are playing in town. So I had an opportunity to stray from my sales tables and visit some of the other rooms. I never had enough time to survey the whole show but I got a pretty good sense of what was new and exciting.
My first stop was Mytek Digital, makers of both professional and audiophile grade interfaces…including their brand new DAC | Headphones Amp | Preamplifier model. This is very exciting news for Michal Jurewicz, the owner and chief designer of the gear his company produces. I’ve known Michal for a number of years now and was glad to find him at his booth in Denver.
His new Brooklyn unit is a half width, single rack space box (the same size as the Benchmark DACs and a departure for Mytek). It’s “a reference quality USB 2 DAC, line and phono analog preamplifier, and reference headphones amplifier” according to the brochure that I picked up at the show. Michal has promised a review unit something after their release in December.
The Brooklyn device can also claim to be the first non-Meridian device that includes a built in “certified” MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) Hi-Res Decoder…that’s a major feather in Michal’s cap. And on Saturday evening, Robert Stuart and Michal Jurewicz demonstrated the full functionality of MQA and the Brooklyn decoder by streaming a high-resolution music track from 2L originally recorded at 352.8 kHz/24-bits (DXD or PCM for those that want the actual format and not the brand) through the 1100 kilo bit per second hotel WiFi network. That’s an amazing feat! Kudos to all involved.
I learned a lot about progress on the MQA initiative from a few insiders at the show. I saw Robert Stuart but unfortunately didn’t have a chance to attend his seminar. They’re making headway with the labels, with the professional tools that will be required to prepare MQA files, and partner companies like Mytek. Robert has promised to provide me a comprehensive interview about his exciting new development…I’ll share it here and in the “Music and Audio” guide. BTW Michal promised that he would consent to an interview for the book. too.
Near the end of the day, a couple of intrepid audio enthusiasts stopped by the AIX Records sales tables. We ended up chatting for more than 20 minutes about analog and digital and the mixed messages that they were getting as they drifted between rooms. I gave them my “elevator pitch” on why high-resolution PCM audio is capable of reproducing the most accurate music recordings…if the full potential of the format is used. My advocacy for real high-resolution audio and music ran into the myths and misrepresentations that they heard in other rooms. They related conversations where the presenters asserted things like, “Analog tape is the best and most accurate format in the history of recordings and won’t ever be surpassed” and “Digital is harsh, cold, and simply unmusical”.
So I carefully laid out the subjective vs. objective positions of both camps. I described the dynamic range and frequency response of various formats and then I insisted they listen to the first few minutes of “Mujaka” from The Latin Jazz Trio project. It’s a guaranteed winner with anyone who has two functioning ears on the sides of their head. Both of these gentlemen had wide smiles when they finally took of the Oppo PM-1 Headphones, which were fed by my Benchmark DAC2. As they walked away I said to them, “I’ll bet you’re thinking that I’m crazy and clearly delusional to believe that digital could and does out perform analog tape and vinyl LPs.” They both turned around and assured me that they were convinced and appreciated the short course in digital audio. One set of ears at a time.
The “Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound” is approaching 600 backers…I couldn’t be more pleased. And there’s 15 days left to go…the campaign is only halfway through. I’ve got some additional news that I’ll share tomorrow and a few friends at the RMAF promised to send out a notice to their organization. I’m hoping that the campaign reaches the first stretch goal so that every backer can get the new sampler. I used a Blu-ray recordable disc at the show to access samples of 71 different tracks. This sampler truly represents the entire AIX Records catalog. Check out the Kickstarter page here and become a backer…there’s still time to support the effort.