I enjoyed Las Vegas. It’s a major effort to spend five days away from the studio but unlike last year’s Marketplace, I was able to introduce high-resolution audio to hundreds of people and sell them some of my AIX Records titles. Between the support that many generous readers contributed and the sales of a bunch of discs, the CES 2015 trip was a success. I managed to pick up some sort of bug and now have chest congestion and am coughing a lot but I’m glad I went.
Friday morning, I spent about 3 hours away from my area in the Bellini Ballroom and headed towards the Tower demonstration rooms. I met David Chesky during my transit and he made a few recommendations (TAD, MBL and a few others) I took the elevator up to the 35th floor and moved quickly up and down the three corridors of the Venetian looking for interesting rooms, companies I know, or suggestions I gleaned from individuals that stopped by the booth. Kalman Rubinson told me about a small Hong Kong based company called miniDSP that makes very cost effective boxes and software for doing room tuning (DIREC) and a multichannel (8-channel) DAC with DSP capability inside. Kalman and I both major fans of surround music and have been on the look out for companies willing to take the step into multichannel.
George Klissarov, President and Chief Designer at exeSound, is the only person that I know that has a very high quality DAC that does more than 8-channels. We still live in a stereo world. The fact that another company has entered this market…and with a device that will retail for about $700…is very encouraging. Contrary to Neil’s aversion to surround music, I find it vastly more compelling than traditional stereo.
In fact, yesterday afternoon I was invited up to the Auro3D demonstration room. This European-based company has developed an immersive 3D sound mixing and release format using 9 (or 10) main speakers with a subwoofer. At each of the four corner locations, there is another speaker elevated to the ceiling line and pointed down towards the main listening position. The MCH audio is encoded on a Blu-ray disc and special A/V Receivers send the Auro3D stream via HDMI to the 9 speakers. The demo was amazing…especially the track from Morten Lynberg of 2L. The music was sublime and having it come from all around and above transported me to the venue, which was showing on the video.
Other demo pieces of a more commercial nature were somewhat disappointing. I recognize that there is not hard and fast rules about mixing in surround but these mixes were static, narrow, speaker focused, and completely uninteresting. Can you imagine how cool it would be to listen to a multilayered EDM track by Tiesto mixed among 9 speakers? Well, the mix was fixed in the center front speaker and had no dynamic movement. Give me the tracks and I’ll show you how to use space as a compositional element.
As I’m coughing too much and need to rest…I’m going to sign off for now. More tomorrow.