I’m on the Audio Board of the Consumer Electronics Association’s thanks to my friendship with cable maker Ray Kimber. It’s been a very enlightening experience to hear what hardware manufacturers and cable makers are concerned about with regards to their products. We have a monthly conference call and get together at least once a year for a meeting, dinner and social event…last year in New York City as part of CE Week.
Although I’ve been involved with the group for a few years and everyone has been very open to hearing what I have to contribute, I still feel like the odd man out because my company AIX Records and iTrax.com don’t make hardware. I’m an audio engineer, record label owner and professor of Audio Recording at one of the local California State Universities. My priorities and perspectives are different…very different…than the rest of the group. While they’re interested in lobbying about import restrictions on exotic woods used in speaker cabinets or the best way to market and sell audio accessories, I’ve been constantly pushing the value of better audio productions.
And to the credit of the CEA staff and organization, the Audio Board has built a close relationship with the P&E (Producers and Engineers Wing) of NARAS (the Grammy organization). Lucky me, I’m involved in both organizations as a member. So I get to see the musings of both organizations.
NARAS and CEA have collaboratively launched a website called QualitySoundMatters.com. You can take a quick look at the site by clicking here. The site offers a variety of posts on the emerging world of high-resolution audio. I’ve actually written a few pieces for them and I do stop by to check out the contributions of others once in a while.
It’s targeted at consumers and thus doesn’t push any technical information or controversial issues at you, but I believe it serves a purpose. It’s a “keep everyone happy” type of site.
Following the Audio Board call of last Thursday, a working group was formed to define the meaning of high-resolution audio. As soon as the call was over, emails were flying from a number of members volunteering their time to this new committee…and, of course, I stepped up as well. So far there are 12 members. They come from all sorts of companies, but I’m the only one that has ever made or released a recording. This is going to be interesting.
The working group’s challenge is to come up with a definition of high-resolution audio that the CEA and its international partners can get behind and promote. I’m sure there’ll be a logo and some sort of continued promotional campaign like the things that happened at the recent CES 2014 show.
Remember that it is the CEA that changed the name of 4K video to “Ultra HD-Video”. And it was another working group that branded HDTV a few years ago. The new challenge, however, is pretty much guaranteed to fail. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the discussions and the proposals and the rest of the posturing that will undoubtedly happen. But the complexity and more importantly the vested interests of everyone on the board will be insurmountable.
If by some miracle consensus is achieved, the definition will be something like the meaningless definition that was given to Steve Harvey in his write up about the CES “high-resolution audio” panels. If you recall, it was: “HRA music files provide greater clarity and detail than MP3s and other compressed digital audio formats, resulting in a listening experience that more closely represents the original recording.”
I’ve also heard them talk about anything produced that has greater specifications than a compact disc. Without divulging any confidential, I’ll try to keep you all posted. And I can assure you that I will very active in the group and pushing for some of the ideas and terminology that we’ve discussed in these posts and follow up comments.
I’m going to spend some time preparing a preliminary document for the CEA Audio Board “high-resolution audio” working group. I’ll share that as well.