As regular readers know, this post is the first in a very long time. I apologize for being absent for so long. One reader emailed the other day and wanted to know what was going on. I replied that I’ve been busy with the book and Blu-ray demo disc, my university duties keep me on my toes, we took a road trip to Colorado (with Charlie!), and I finished my 7th LA Marathon back in mid March. But I’m back.
Today is setup day at the Westin Hotel just outside of Chicago’s Ohare airport, the home of the AXPONA show. This will be the last time the event is held at this particular venue, Steve Davis (the founder of the show) informed me last summer that JD Events has decided to move AXPONA to the Renaissance Convention Center next year. It’s a bigger and more luxurious venue. I’m hoping to get a chance to visit the new location and inspect the room choices. However, it’s unlikely that AIX Records will have a large space in which to demo high-resolution, surround sound. I’m sure I’ll return to sell the book and offer my software, but the logistics, costs, and effort it takes to mount a demo room exceed my ability to pull it off. If you’re one of the many hundreds of attendees that have had a chance to experience our unique presentations, you know just how amazing great recordings on great equipment can be. But those days are probably over.
Last Tuesday evening, I hosted my advanced recording class at my studio in Los Angeles. Every year we take “field trip” to my facility and I treat these newbie recording engineers to a listening session and lecture in my big room. We visited each of the 7 studios that are housed in the building. There’s the Astound Sound room with its collection of rare analog signal processors and custom foot pedals. The room was on the front of MIX magazine back in 2014 and never fails to impress visitors with the racks of Pultec, Fairchild, Tektronics, and UREI outboard gear. The engineers that work in that studio have access to a wonderful world of digital and analog equipment. These days they’re busy perfecting tools for capturing and post producing audio in full 360 for VR/AR uses. If immersive 360 sound and VR are of interest, you should check out their website by clicking here.
I shared a number of selections from my latest demonstration disc as each student sat in the “sweet spot” in the center of 5 B&W 801 Matrix III speakers. These are young people used to hearing highly compressed, commercial recordings, with hyped bottom and top ends. They were blown away to hear the sound of real drums with real world dynamics. The sound of vocals weaving in and out of a transparent instrumental accompaniment was a revelation. I was pleased that so many wanted to hear examples of classical music.
However, the real treat of the evening was the new AIX Records release titled “JMK”. As most of you know, it’s been several years since I’ve added a new Blu-ray disc to my catalog. I’m thrilled to be able to offer a new album to fans of high-resolution surround music. The new release is a collection of 12 instrumental tracks composed, performed, produced, and mixed by a very talented Los Angeles-based musician. JMK has had tremendous success in composing music for film and television. His “garage” studio is one of the best equipped rooms I’ve ever visited — with a large format API analog console, tons of outboard processors, a grand piano, live drum set (he started life as a drummer), binaural “Fritz” head, and the best collection of analog and digital synthesizers I’ve seen since my days at Cal Arts back in the 80s. He’s got Buchla, Moog, and Sequential Circuits modular racks and a complete complement of Yamaha and Roland stuff.
John began experimenting with music in 5.1 surround and the results were so compelling that friends who heard his tracks encouraged him to release them to a wider audience. And so he found me and my little label as a kindred spirit. I think his music, his engineering, his mixing, and unique ability to fuse analog and electronic sounds very interesting. I suggested we collaborate and so I produced computer animations to accompany each of the tracks. So the Blu-ray disc contains the 12 tracks in 5.1 surround and stereo with CGI animations AND a third mix in headphone surround. What could be better than experiencing John’s music as if you were sitting in the middle of his studio. He pulled out the “Fritz” binaural head and captured the 5.1 surround mix from the sweet spot in his room. All you have to do is put on your headphones and you are there.
My students absolutely loved the new project. The movement in the surround space, the driving tracks, the complex textures, and fidelity of the tracks was an “ear opener”. Whenever I switched back to stereo, they groaned. “Why don’t artists like Skrillex and deadmau5 offer their EDM tracks in surround?” was a common question.
I’ve brought a number of the JMK Blu-ray discs to the AXPONA show and will be demoing it on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you’re at the show, please come by. If you want to audition the tracks or check out the videos on the JMK project, please stop by his web site by clicking here. The album is currently available.
It’s time to get the day underway and head over to the Lakeshore B ballroom and set up our system. It’s good to be back.