It was a very long day in New York City yesterday. Up early to write the day’s post, an hour of editing of ten AIX Records tracks into a 9-minute “quickset” to play at the DEG, CEA, Recording Academy and label HRA demo event, CEA Audio Board meeting in the morning, sound check at Jungle studio from 2-3 pm, 4 pm interview at CE Week with Scott Wilkinson and finally the 3-hour event and party at the studio…but it was all good. And so much to write about!
I guess the most pressing topic was the event held last evening at Jungle Studios in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. The studios are gorgeous…where else would you find and entire wall of the tracking room with a view of the city (the studio is on the 11th floor of a new building). When I arrived for the sound check at around 2 pm, engineer and presenter Kevin Reeves was in the control room with Peter Chaikin sorting out the playback system. Peter is the main sales guy for JBL professional products and was there to setup and tweak a pair of the amazing M2 Studio Reference Monitors, which had been brought in to use for the demos. I couldn’t have been more thrilled that the organizers opted to have these amazing speakers installed at the front of the control room. Ever since my visit to Harman Kardon a couple of months ago, I’ve been singing the praises of this amazing high-resolution speakers…they deliver the entire frequency band from 20-40 kHz…that includes the ultrasonics that I believe are an essential part of the audio experience.
Figure 1 – The Penthouse Studio Control Room with the SSL console and JBL M2 speakers
Another presenter, Grammy-winning engineer Frank Filipetti entered the control room and was the first to play some of the demonstration materials that he had prepared. We listened to a few commercial tracks and the overture to Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels”, which he had just received from mastering guru Bob Ludwig the week before (Bob was also one of the presenter’s last evening. The speakers sounded a little “beefy” in the low mid range to me but I held my comments until I had the chance to listen to my own recordings. Peter had been tuning things and tried to fill a sonic “hole” in the low to mid range with a little EQ boost.
Frank was happy with the sound and I took my turn in the sweet spot as we auditioned the nine track demo sequence I had edited earlier that day. Oh my…the sound of Laurence Juber’s guitar, Carl Verheyen electric solo and John Gorka’s piano playing and singing on the very touching “Let Them In” song was beyond amazing. Peter came up to me and commented about the sound of John’s vocal…it was so rich and natural sounding coming through the M2s. I’ve listened to my stuff through the top of the line B&W 800Ds, the German Physiks Emperor MK II ($400 a pair!) and lots of other speakers but nothing can compare to the accuracy, smoothness and detail I heard from the JBL studio monitors. Visitors to the evening’s event were in for a real treat. I was very impressed and confident that the evening demos would be getting the best possible presentation.
Figure 2 – Kevin Reeves and David O’Donnell listening during the sound check at Jungle Studios.
In the tracking room, several companies were setting up stations to show off their hardware as we went through the sound check. I saw the folks from Astell & Kern, dCS, Sony and e-Onkyo unpacking and setting up their display tables. And although I didn’t make it downstairs, I know HDTracks and SuperHiRez had areas to display their wares.
The doors opened at 6:00 pm and immediately there were people moving in and out of the studio, checking out the displays and indulging in some light refreshments and drinks. Marc Finer from the DEG and Maureen Droney gave some introductory remarks about high-resolution audio and introduced the evening just after 6:20. The first presenter was Kevin Reeves, on of the top engineers at Universal and a man responsible for a lot of “high-resolution” transfers and mastering for the e-Onkyo online store in Japan. I didn’t get a chance to hear his presentation from the control room but the sound was piped into the tracking room for everyone to enjoy.
Figure 3 – They have a vintage EMI analog console tucked against the wall at the studio…had to have a picture.
I’ll talk about the individual presenters and the stuff they played tomorrow. It was a very interesting evening…with some ups and downs. I felt very honored to be included in the event and thanked both Marc and Maureen for inviting me.