It’s over. The three-day, 10th Anniversary edition of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is behind us. AIX Records had just about the best location imaginable inside the entrance and across from the registration desk. Traffic to our sales table seemed somewhat lighter than previous years but was good enough to make the weekend worthwhile.
I gave my seminar at 9:30 am on Sunday morning. The subject “High-end Audio from Production to Playback” proved interesting enough to get about 30-40 attendees to the auditorium yesterday morning. I was actually surprised to see so many people in attendance. The RMAF always records the seminars and presentations, so you can see my talk online in a few weeks on the audiofest.com website (the videographer will be quite busy editing and encoding the sessions…so be patient). The feedback that I received was very positive and I enjoyed presenting to an interested crowd.
I laid out the case for using high-resolution PCM for producing new projects and discussed the challenges facing alternative encoding and distribution schemes. The most important point made during the one-hour presentation was that older analog recordings are standard definition because of the technology and methods used to create them. When they are repackaged or transferred to high-resolution digital files they remain standard definition. This is a very hard concept to grasp but it seemed to make an impact with the audience.
One of the most visit rooms at the show had a pair of the new M2 Master Reference Monitor speakers from Harmon. They are unusual in a number of ways. Here’s the blurb from their brochure:
“The M2 Master Reference Monitor design leverages JBL’s new D2 Compression Driver which uses two annular diaphragms and two voice coils to deliver extended high frequency response and very low distortion at very high sound pressure levels. The D2 is mated with JBL’s new 2216ND Differential Drive® 15-inch woofer also with dual voice coils, incorporating a patented wire application that reduces power compression enabling linear output regardless of playback level. With these two extraordinary drivers as the engine, the M2 Master Reference Monitor delivers extended in-room response of 20 Hz to 40 kHz for today’s high-resolution recording formats, and remarkable 123 dB SPL at one meter, providing the necessary dynamic range for demanding music and film production.”
Finally, a cost effective speaker system ($36,000 includes 1000 watts of amplification by Crown and a digital crossover processor) that can deliver “high-resolution” audio in the studio or in your living room. There is a professional version and a high-end consumer version for audiophiles. I listened to the reference system in room 482 and was very impressed with the clarity and high frequency extension to the sound. I asked if I could play one of my recordings from a USB stick but they couldn’t use USB input. The folks at Harmon have designed and built a reference monitor that can deliver the ultrasonic frequencies that are contained in my HD-Audio PCM recordings.
These are the speakers that I want to use to run my research project into the perceptibility of high-resolution audio. To run a rigorous evaluation of ultrasonics we have to make sure that the entire signal chain is producing actual frequencies and dynamic range that extends beyond the specs of a CD, vinyl or tape. And of course, we can’t fall into the trap that the Boston Audio Society did when they evaluated material that claimed to be high-resolution but wasn’t.
Stay tuned…I working on getting this project off the ground.