I skipped Charlie’s agility training class this morning and headed to the Anaheim Convention Center to attend the National Association of Music Merchants annual gathering. The NAMM is not open to the public but it seems anyone that wants to get in can get credentials some way or another. I wasn’t inside more than 10 minutes before a group of my students came over and wanted to share their thoughts on the new gear and software. In fact, I spent quite a bit of time chatting with students…some current and a bunch of others that have graduated and gone on to jobs in the industry. It was actually very nice to spend a few minutes with them…and I was quite impressed that most are doing something in the audio engineering area.
The high tech section of the convention center (where all of the electronics, software, gadgets, analog synths etc) is where I like to hang out. I ran into my friend John Siau form Benchmark. We chatted a while about the kind of system that’s needed to really appreciate high-resolution audio. According to John, there aren’t too many amplifiers that can deliver more than 96 dB or dynamic range. Of course, there are very many recordings that require that much but that’s the whole point of high-resolution audio…it’s rare, it’s special, and it’s hard to do! I’m trying to sort out what equipment companies I want to partner with for the AXPONA 2015 show in Chicago. I want to assemble an ideal system…one that can actually deliver the magic that’s in my recordings. I’ve identified some of the companies/partners but haven’t yet nailed down the amplifiers and speakers, which are obviously critical to the overall sound. Benchmark’s new AHB2 amplifier is a strong, very strong contender.
At 1 pm, I headed upstairs to the “Hot Zone” to sit in on Cookie Marenco’s panel entitled, “The High Resolution Movement”. I’m not sure it was a panel. Usually, a panel consists of several experts/individuals addressing a common topic. In this case, Cookie’s talked about how great DSD is, how many hits she’s getting on her website, how music is underpriced (she charges $4-6 to download a single track…ouch!), and even did a live recording of an acoustic duo using a portable PCM D100 recorder. Her panel mate, Matty, asked a few questions about two thirds of the way through the panel. He asked whether people could tell the difference between standard resolution audio and audio at 192 kHz. Cookie assured the audience that she could teach everyone in the audience to “hear” the difference that 192 kHz sampling makes…I would challenge that since there have been no studies that have shown that.
Matty also asked how Cookie would convince the unwashed masses about the advantages of high-resolution audio. Her reply was pretty much the usual, “there’s just more there there”. More width, more frequency range, more spread etc. This from someone that uses analog tape or DSD 64 to record, PCM 16-bit reverb during mixing, and an old analog mixing console. I have to acknowledge that Cookie makes very nice sounding recordings. But they’re not high-resolution audio.
I gave my card to Matty and insisted that he ping me. The one sided story that he got from his panel of one…needs a balanced rebuttal from someone like me. It was interesting to hear Cookie acknowledge me as the “guy who writes the daily blog about PCM”. I’m not sure she’s been following my posts or she would know I talk about a lot of different things.
Then I hung around for the next session, “Birth of a Record: Don Was and Ed Cherney”. I know both of these guys and wanted to hear what they had to say about Bonnie Raitt’s groundbreaking “Nick of Time” album, which is a true masterpiece.
I’ll talk about that tomorrow.