As I write the title above, I have to admit that this isn’t a show report at all. How can it be when I was stuck in the Lakeshore B ballroom or out front at the sales table from 8:30 in the morning until past closing time at 6:30 pm. I have nothing to report on the rest of the show. I did hear from a number of visitors that the usual stuff is going on in the other ballrooms and smaller rooms in the tower.
My wife and I had left our room in mid setup (the audio was all hooked up and working) in order to drive to Mohamet to visit my brother and his family (triplet 16-year girls!). Getting there and back involved 5 hours of driving. So I had to get back to the venue early to put up our banner and set up the new UDP-205, clean up the demo room, and unload all of our products. We managed to get the banner mounted to the wall behind our tables but early birds starting showing up to hear our room and purchase a few Blu-ray discs. I swiped my first credit card at 8:30 am and never looked back.
The crowds were good. In fact, Fridays are sometimes the best day of the show because people the really want to be there take the day off work to visit and listen. It’s always nice to see familiar faces and light up the faces of new AIX Records listeners. Dr. Harvey came by and shared the story of his wife commenting on the transcendent sound of Laurence Juber’s “Guitar Noir” DVD-Audio disc. He told me it was the first time she had ever told him, “it sounds like the man in in the room!” And then David H. revisited my room with a wonderful bottle of wine to thank me for transforming his listening experience. His email and comments from several years ago were over the top and he’s become an advocate for my little company by writing to the audiophile press about our remarkable productions.
We usually get overlooked by the big magazines but I can tell you that Chris Martens, Steven Stone, and Steve Guttenberg came by yesterday to listen and chat. That was certainly encouraging and I think they were impressed.
I happened to be in the elevator when two individuals bumped into each other. One asked the other what he was up to and he mentioned that MQA was having a large impact on his business. I interjected a question, “In a good or a bad way?” He replied, “In a good way.” I smiled and exited the elevator. The more I speak with engineers and other professionals, the more I realize that MQA is non-starter for me. I’ve never been able to get a true comparison of my own tracks in the format and understand why they will never come through on their promise to make that happen. The amount of “false advertising” and misinformation, the fact that equipment manufacturers can’t do anything to the digital signal (room correction, EQ dynamic processing, gain etc) without violating the MQAness of the file, and the reality that MQA can’t provide ultrasonic origami on content that doesn’t have ultrasonic information in the first place make me very dubious about the technology.
After playing my tracks in DOlby TrueHD (a technology derived from Meridian’s MLP format), I have no interest of need to use MQA. All of the fidelity I require is already there. People that came out of our room were very impressed.
And then there were the people that came from the rooms hosted by vendors of expensive power cords, designer speaker cables, and exotic digital interconnects. From what I heard, they’re playing from the same script as in years past. In my room, I used generic power cords and multi strips and very good cables from DH Labs (very reasonably priced). But on the table out front I used a $1.00 75 Ohm coax cable to connected the Oppo to the Benchmark DAC2 HGC.
As I stated repeatedly in the room, there are three absolutely critical things in putting together a great system. The first — and clearly the most important — is the content. If the recording don’t have the fidelity to start with the rest of the signal path is not going to be able to restore it. The second component is the speakers. Having a great set of speakers is also very important. But as I’ve learned from my Emotiva experience, they don’t have to cost big bucks. The third factor is the room that you listen in. A 1 foot change in listening position will cause a 1 ms timing change in a 1000 Hz frequency component. You need to spend some time making sure you room is properly designed and treated. Attend to these three things before you spend any money on audiophile accessories, tweaks, esoteric gear, or snake oil products.
Back to the show. Maybe I’ll see you.