HRA: CES Day IV

Friday was the final day of the International 2014 CES show. As expected, there were fewer attendees than on the previous days so I decided to take a couple of hours and cruise up to the tower suites in the Venetian. So I relegated my booth duties to my friend and associate Richard Bron and headed upstairs for a couple of hours.

The show is immense and there is no way to properly cover even a small portion of the rooms in the few hours that I had available. Over the previous few days, I had asked friends and others what they had seen that was particularly impressive. So armed with my show guide and a few room numbers I threaded my way once more through the Canal Shops to the tower elevators.

One of the first rooms that I visited was the CAF/Theta Digital room where I found my friend Jeff Hipps. They had a 7.2 playback system (one of the only surround setups that I saw at the show) with a 42 inch video monitor located on the floor in the front. I recognized the graphic on the screen as that of an Oppo machine. I’ve always found it ironic that the dark background of their digital audio player is a picture of a turntable and phono cartridge!). I asked Jeff about the machine and he informed me that it was an Oppo BDP-105 with the Theta Digital mod.

The focus of their presentation was a digital room correction application that can automatically tailor the amplitude and frequency output of all of the speakers to optimize the response characteristics of the room. So they played a few examples and switched the process on and off. The change was not subtle.

I listened to some Herbie Hancock and Oscar Peterson before John pulled out their copy of my HD-Audio sampler from a couple of years ago. I suggested that they play “Lowlands” from my Brand New Opry Volume I production, which features Jamie Hanna and Jonathan McEuen (two cousins that are sons of twin sisters that married two members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). Their voices blend in a special way and this particular tune was the one that got them their own record deal It’s an acoustic track with guitars, banjo (John McEuen), mandolin, bass and fiddle…no drums. The sound in full 7.1 surround was balanced, smooth and very impressive…even in a hotel room.

It was great to hear one of my own tracks sound so good in one of the demo rooms and I highly applaud the effort it takes to set up a surround sound system. Kudos to Jeff and the CAF people.

I’ll share my experiences in a couple of other rooms including and extended conversation that I had with the representatives in the Korg room (DSD central) later because I’ve got to dash to the airport and start my annual vacation to Vail, Colorado. My sister, who lives in Boulder and spends a lot time in Vail because her husband is the town manager) called me last evening to say the snow and conditions are wonderful…so I’m headed for a week on the boards.

And yes, I will be posting everyday prior to boarding the Gondola in the village.

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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