The LA Audio show opened its doors at 10 am yesterday to eager throngs of audio enthusiasts. This is the inaugural show for the organizers, which include that Los Angeles and Orange Country Audiophile Society run by Bob Levi. I got up quite early, packed up my usual rolling suitcases (without the 50 pound limitation demanded by the airlines), loaded everything in the car, and drove about 30 minutes to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. How convenient could it get? The bellman hauled everything up to the mezzanine level while I parked the car behind the hotel. The Sheraton Gateway hosted a Stereophile show back in 2009 but has since undergone a major renovation — it’s nice but rather spread out and somewhat difficult to navigate. I mentioned to Bob Levi that the tables located in the general mezzanine level are not identified on the map, by signage, or in the show booklet. I had more than a few people get lost trying to locate AIX Records.
There’s an area for headphones vendors, several ballrooms with extensive immersive audio setups (Auro 3D), plenty of smaller demonstration rooms, and of course, the usual collection of cable and accessory vendors lining most of the common areas. The show is very well organized and promises to be the go to show on the west coast — it may rise to become the biggest and best show in North America if they keep the prices reasonable and support the vendors. Traffic was quite good in the morning but by early afternoon, things were pretty slow in my area of the building.
Once again, I was given the keynote slot in the seminar room. I spoke for about 45 minutes on what is and what isn’t high-resolution music and took questions from a packed room of attendees. It was very nice to see a full house for the opening presentation. As you would expect, I tried to convey to the uninformed that hi-res audio as promoted by the labels, hardware manufacturers, and several supporting organizations is a complete hoax. There’s nothing “hi-res” about virtually all of the content available as downloads and on physical media. Readers of this blog realize that the fidelity of a particular album or track is locked in at the time of the original session and simply transferring an older analog copy to a bit bucket with higher specifications doesn’t alter the fidelity of the original. It’s just that simple. So anyone trying to convince you that they have some special sauce or three letter acronym process that will magically unwrap new layers of fidelity to your system and ears is fooling you — and trying to enrich themselves.
Yes, there are real high-resolution recordings available but they aren’t being produced and released by the major labels. They’ll keep trying with expensive marketing campaigns, slick brochures, seminars, testimonials, and “alternative facts” but the only way to experience a hi-res audio track to actually make one and play it back. And the only period we’ve had the ability to capture and deliver audio at “better than CD quality” has been during the last 20 years — that means that the vast majority of old analog recordings and standard resolution digital recordings being offered in “hi-res” audio are just the same old fidelity in new clothes. It’s unfortunate the the industry is so consumed with reselling old recordings that they aren’t being truthful about the fidelity of the tracks they’re selling AND that they aren’t making new recordings of higher fidelity.
The official reveal of the YARRA 3DX prototype unit happened yesterday on the Mezzanine level close by my setup. I had more than a few discussions with attendees about this revolutionary new technology. One gentleman and his son came by the AIX Records table and I mentioned the 3D-audio capabilities of the beamforming technique used in the YARRA 3DX array. The older man simply refused to accept that a sound could be perceived to come from over his shoulder from a speaker that was physically in front of him. I explained that we experience our world in full 3D with only two ears but he needed to be convinced. So I escorted him over to the YARRA 3DX box for a demo. I asked him to close his eyes and point to the “virtual speaker” where he heard a sound. As I soloed the individual channels, he pointed to the left, the center, and the right. When I soloed the right surround channel, he pointed over his right shoulder and smiled. He opened his eyes in disbelief. “I still don’t understand how it works, but you’re right the sound came from behind me,” he admitted. If you’re coming to the show today or tomorrow, please make sure to stop by and hear for yourself how incredible the YARRA 3DX is.
John Keane aka “JMK” is coming by the show today to sign copies of his new AIX Records surround Blu-ray disc. If you haven’t checked out this amazing project, please visit www.jmksonics.com to audition some tracks and read why this award-winning film and television composer go inspired to create a high-resolution, 5.1 album.
Got to run. More later…