AUDIO SHOWS Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS — 28 September 2014


It was a beautiful day in Brooklyn yesterday morning as I walked from my Airbnb apartment to the Marriott Hotel at the Brooklyn Bridge. That was the extent of my outdoor experience because the traffic at my table on the lobby level was busy all day. The New York Audio Show is very well managed and attracted motivated and knowledgeable attendees…and many of them are interested in High-Resolution Audio.

My table is located just past the registration desk and immediately outside of the seminar room. I have my Oppo BDP-83, a video monitor, my Benchmark DAC2, the Smyth Realiser, and a couple pairs of Oppo PM-1 headphones. I also used my Kanex Pro “deembedder” to get the 96/24 PCM digital signals to the DAC. The sound is really good even if I don’t have a dedicated room.

There was regular flow of attendees. Some were just kicking the tires and others like Russell were all in. He recognized me from the video I put on the HD-Audio Calibration and Demo Blu-ray Disc. He listened to a bunch of the demo tracks and then asked, “What do you recommend”. My usual response is “Laurence Juber’s “Guitar Noir”, “The Latin Jazz Trio” and “Nitty Gritty Surround” but since I was running out of those titles I steered him towards “Bad Haggis”. I described this album as a fusion of Celtic and Latin influences…basically a funk rhythm section with electric/processed bagpipes played by Eric Rigler. It’s an amazing album…very eclectic.

I took the shrink-wrap off of one of the three copies that I brought along and inserted the DVD-Audio side in to the Oppo. As the first cut…”The Mysterious Integraton” started up a very broad smile appeared on Russell’s face. He was amazed. In fact, he engaged a couple of other potential customers and after they got the headphones on, they purchased “Bad Haggis” as well. You never know what someone is going to like. I expect to see as photo of Russell and I somewhere on FB…I have a new fan.

David Chesky was around yesterday because Chesky Records had a table around the corner and because he was on a panel on High-Resolution Audio. Later in the day, he asked if I had seen the Sony Digital Walkman (I mentioned this new player yesterday). I told him I was aware of it but hadn’t yet heard it or seen it. He then introduced me to Dwain from Sony (they had a booth on the same floor…and were featuring the Hi-Res Audio logo). I listened to a tune from the “Cheek to Cheek” record on the small device. It sounded pretty good but I wanted to check out my own recordings. So we plugged the USB cable into my laptop and after a couple of minutes of clicking here and there, managed to get “Mujaka” from The Latin Jazz trio recording on the NWZ-A17, the digital Walkman.

The sound was really amazing through a set of their MDR 10 headphones! I was very impressed…the body of the sound was there and the high frequency extension. It’s obvious that Sony continues to push the envelope with all of the new hardware they’ve been introducing. But this very small portable high-resolution audio player is a stunner. It retails for $299, comes with 64 gigs of on board storage (you can add micro SD cards to bring it to 200 gigs!), and will play any virtually any format. The units will be available in early November according to Dwain.

I’ve questioned the value of have a dedicated audio player when some Smartphones can deliver high-resolution audio. The new Sony NWZ-A17 might just have tipped the balance back in favor of a dedicated hi-res audio player. It’s small enough to slide easily in your shirt pocket and best of all; it will play high-res content for 30 hours! It will last 50 hours playing MP3 files. Those specs best Smartphones by a lot.

The only thing that the Sony digital Walkman doesn’t have is an area on the back to engrave the names of your favorite rock star or band. If I was working with Pono…I would be getting somewhat concerned. The competitive landscape is heating up.

More tomorrow on the new Tom Petty record that I auditioned yesterday in one of the rooms last evening.

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(5) Readers Comments

  1. Great seeing you again on Friday Mark. Even with the technical glitches, your presentation that evening was very informative. I will have to download the Latin Jazz recording soon!

  2. Susan and I wanted to thank you for your time yesterday at the show. It was great to meet you in person and we hope you had a good flight back to LA. The show was good and seemed well attended. Sony’s portable player is very attractive, a mighty player in such small size. I was disappointed on Sony’s MDR-1R headphones though. I was really looking forward to listening to those given that they conform with the Hi-Res Audio specs. However, I found the bass boomy and lacking in detail, which detracted from the sound of the higher frequencies too. Then again, like you, I’m not really a headphone person.

    After the show, we couldn’t wait to get home and play Albert Lee’s bluray. That was a lot of fun. The performances were very engaging and your mixes are of course excellent. Today, we played Anita Chang’s DVD-A of Chopin’s Ballads. This one is fantastic. I would lie if I say I haven’t heard a piano sounding like that before, but certainly I had not heard a recording of a piano sounding like that before. Neither of these two discs are going to be picking up dust from our shelves, they will surely be enjoyed many times.

    The 2013 AIX records sampler bluray, unfortunately, did not play on our player. Our bluray player is a bit old at this point, it may be time to start looking into an Oppo.


    • Fernando, send along your address and I will get you a Blu-ray disc that I check out here.

  3. Great to hear the show went reasonably well for you! Your comments on the Walkman are interesting. FWIW, even if it sounds better than a smartphone playback, that wouldn’t be enough to compel me to get this as a separate player.

    But for the win, the following attributes would compel me to get a dedicated portable player: Smyth Realiser tech, and user-selectable dynamic range compression built into the player. And still have at least 256GB of solid state storage and at least 10 hours of battery life.

    I think such a device would really help make your music “shine” in a portable environment compared to other recordings, in a manner that anyone would readily appreciate. Perhaps you play the role of matchmaker and chat up the likes of Smyth, A&K, Fiio, Sony or Pono to develop the next gen HRA portable player that has the attributes above. And if you can’t get one of these companies to lead but a few are willing to follow as suppliers, why not try a kickstarter of your own in cooperation with a few of the above? What Neil Young has done so far isn’t rocket science…

    • Thanks…interesting.

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