Yesterday evening, SHARP electronics and THX held a product introduction event in collaboration with the Video & Audio Center in Santa Monica. My good friend Geoff Tully, a consumer audio/video professional, sent me an email with an invitation and connected me with Tom Campbell, the Corporate Director of the V/A Center. When Tom and I spoke on the phone, I recognized his voice as a voice over professional and MC guy. Turns out he’s a bit of an audio junkie and runs his own studio at his home for his own voice over work. We hit it off right away.
I invited Tom to stop by the studio and audition some AIX Records tracks in the hopes that he might want to play some of them during the evening event. I told him about my approach to recording and my passion for surround sound. He was intrigued but insisted, “I’m purely a 2-channel stereo guy”. I told him, “that’s because you haven’t heard surround done right.”
He showed up around 2 pm and we headed straight for the studio. We sat and chatted about the event, about his career in promotion and teaching (he’s on the faculty at Georgetown University and flies every week to Washington D.C.). Then I played him some of the tracks from my HD-Audio 2013 sampler. I started with the Lowen and Navarro track in aggressive surround, but Tom asked me to please switch to stereo, which I did. We listened for a few minutes and then he told me to return to surround. After a few more tracks and continued switching back and forth, he looked at me and said, “You’re absolutely right. There’s simply no comparison…surround is much better. There’s so much more to hear and the details in these tracks are amazing.”
We spent the rest of the time trying to figure out how he could reconfigure his home listening room to playback surround music. He’s going to purchase an Oppo BDP-105D as his new front end and retire his CD player. The rest of the evening he gushed to the assembled invitees about the sound of my recordings and the importance of high-resolution audio in full surround. One set of ears at a time…chalk up one more convert.
SHARP introduced a couple of new products at the event. They had their new 70″ and 65″ UHD televisions on display with a looping promotional video demonstrating the benefits of ultra high-resolution technology. The new set was positioned right in the middle of the showroom with dozens of other high-end flat panel displays positioned along every wall in the place. And all of the sets were beaming out juiced up pictures of football games, promotional reels, movie trailers, and nature (animals, mountains, the north pole etc). It was very impressive…if you’re trying to sell high-end video monitors. But nothing about any of the images portrayed anything that looked “real”. According to Scott Wilkinson, who was there as well on behalf of the AVS Forum, all of the sets are set in “vivid” mode, which overhypes the brightness and intensity of the colors. Apparently, this is standard operating procedure in salesrooms around the world. Just like louder is always better in demonstrating audio…brighter does the same thing for video monitors.
During the course of the evening, the store sold over 10 new SHARP UHD televisions! Imagine being able to purchase a 70″ UHD television for less than $3000! And last night, the Video & Audio Center was picking up the tax. This price point will certainly help sales as we head into the Christmas season.
So much for the video portion of the event. In the far corner of the sales floor SHARP had set up their new other new product…the SD-WH1000U “Wireless High Resolution Audio Player”. It is claimed to be the “first wireless high resolution audio player” in the world. I’ll talk about that piece tomorrow.