We’ve made through another year. It’s December 31, 2013…New Years Eve. It’s the end of the first year of this website and my daily posts. When I started RealHD-Audio.com back in April, I had faint hope that it would attract a regular (an increasing group) of interested readers AND that I could dedicate the time to assemble 500 words everyday. Never mind that I have to have something to write about everyday (I’m guessing by now that you’ve figured out that I’m not often at a loss for words). If you’ve enjoyed the posts these past months, please consider sharing your enthusiasm with others.
I’m actually quite pleased at the progress of the site over these past 8 months. We’ve had almost 40,000 visits from 25,000 unique visitors and built up a readership approaching 2000. My thanks go out to all of you for your support and for sticking with me through this initial period. It’s the right time for an open and honest discussion of issues of interest to high quality music lovers. I hope you find this site and my posts interesting, occasionally insightful and instructive. I don’t claim to know everything about audio production…but it turns out after 40 plus years being a professional audio engineer, professor of music and recording and owner of a high-end audio label that I have a few things to.
The end of the year is always a convenient time to reflect on the important developments of the past year. So let me offer up a couple of highlights that I think were important and why.
High-End Audio Goes Mobile – It goes without saying that you can’t build a market without expanding the potential customer base. And it’s seems pretty obvious that the younger demographic is increasingly engaged by higher quality music. While I’m not a fan of vinyl LPs, they have found a place (a very small place) among the listening formats embraced by young people. It’s probably because vinyl LPs are retro, cool or contrary to the norm rather than better sounding but anything that demonstrates interest in better quality playback is OK with me.
So it’s exciting to hear about new handheld devices that include high-resolution audio specifications. The Astell & Kern devices and Samsung Galaxy 4 smart phones come to mind. As costs drop AND more content is available in real high-resolution audio, we might be seeing the start of a trend. The current iPhones sport DACs that can be clocked at high-resolution but Apple chooses not to activate that capability because of battery life issues. I don’t think it will be too long until Apple finally gets on board. It will be a watershed moment (and I’m certain that it won’t include DSD BTW) but the iTunes content will remain standard definition. I can imagine a specialty area of iTunes for the likes of 2L and AIX Records in the near future…but I’m not holding my breath.
Surround Music – The movies industry has been a market leader in the expansion of surround or immersive sound experiences for moviegoers. I saw second installment of the “The Hobbit” trilogy in a theater with Dolby’s latest sound delivery system and it was amazing. It’s called Atmos and includes a complete set of speakers mounted directly over the audience’s heads. It demonstrates that people do appreciate surround sound. Now it’s just about getting music producers and artists to get on board.
The past year saw the introduction of a couple of systems for getting 5.1 surround music mixes in a standard set of headphones. My own Headphones[xi]™ immersive mixes can be downloaded from iTunes and soon I will make them available through iTrax.com. Others have entered this marketplace as well…there’s Astound Sound, Headphones X from DTS, an app for new iPhones and Darin Fong’s apps.
I find the experience of “outside the head” surround music to be a major improvement on traditional stereo…but I’ve been recording and mixing surround music for well over a decade. Trust me on this…you’ll get there eventually.
So have a great New Year celebration tonight. I’ll see you tomorrow in 2014. I usually don’t have the staying power to see 12:01 am roll in…but then again I ran 6 miles this morning after getting up at 5:00 am. My clock runs better in the morning. Cheers.