It’s almost 6 pm and the last of the guys that opted in to the HRA Demystified session today have just left. And what a terrific time we had playing high-resolution audio from the AIX Records catalog including the record that we will not speak about…that was a huge hit and had to be repeated numerous times with alternating people in the sweet spot.
The day started early for me. Up with Charlie at 6 am, a quick bike ride around the bluffs, and then off to the studio to get ready for the daylong session. The PowerPoint presentation contains at least 40 slides about AIX, the definition of Hi-Res Audio, production techniques for high-resolution audio, and a discussion of formats. The agenda was pretty loose throughout the day and discussion emerged about formats, downloads vs. streaming and MQA. I don’t think I got more than 40% through the slides. But that’s OK.
The most important outcome was to get engaged audio enthusiasts to hear some really great recordings. Of course, I think that the tracks I’ve recorded stand well above the usual fare released by Hollywood but the assembled group was convinced as well. I played a number of tracks in 5.1 surround in the “stage” perspective mix and everyone agreed that there’s no going back to traditional stereo. Surround music makes everything about a track better…why can’t the artists and their production partners get behind more channels?
During the lunch break, I put the AIX Records HD-Audio 2013 sampler on and just let it play. Each attendee spent time switching between the stereo and surround mixes. A casual poll found that everyone preferred the aggressive surround mix over the stereo and audience 5.1 mixes.
The discussion turned to the Smyth Realizer that I’ve used to prepare headphones[xi] versions of many of my recordings. I pulled out my trusty iPod and everyone listened to the “Eleanor Rigby” track in full surround via Gary Reber’s (of Widescreen Review magazine) Audio Technica headphones. In spite of the fact that the filters were tuned for my ears, just about everyone heard the music outside of their heads.
During the afternoon sessions, I laid out the evolution of my recording techniques and my compulsion to avoid artificial reverberation and dynamic processing. The clarity of the tracks that I shared all day is the direct result of not messing around with the sound that the musicians produced during the original sessions. Why would you want heavy reverb on the vocal tracks and leave the accompaniment relatively dry? I’ve heard recordings like this and they leave me very unsatisfied.
Finally, I shared the 4-track multitrack recordings of the Beatles “Sgt Peppers” album. A friend provided me these unique tracks some years ago. I’ve been amazed by them every since. You can solo the lead vocal or the background vocals and heard the harmonies…and the “pitchiness” on some of the parts…things that wouldn’t pass muster these days. Hearing Paul and John singing the background vocals on “A Little Help From My Friends” pulls back the curtain on the making of this classical concept album…one of the best albums in the history of rock ‘n roll.
Everyone got a couple of free discs and then purchased a bunch more at a discount. My favorite comment was, “When are you going to do this again?” I think everyone had a great time, learned a few things, and heard my tracks as they are meant to be heard. Thanks to everyone who attended. It was a real pleasure.