I got to the Irvine Hotel a little late yesterday. As I leaving my office, I locked and closed the door with my keys inside. Yep, a real bonehead move. After trying to MacGyver my way in with a credit card for about 15 minutes, I was forced to call my very loving and patient wife and ask if she would be so kind as to come to the studio and rescue me. She and Charlie showed up about 30 minutes later and I was finally on my way.
Saturday’s are usually the busiest days at audio trade shows and I’m sure that traffic was up on Saturday. The whole place was buzzing with audiophile enthusiasts both young and old. I chatted with a lot of familiar customers and made my pitch to those that had not yet heard high-resolution music.
It was a real treat to see Jason from Oppo Digital come by the AIX booth. I looked up and there he was taking pictures of the table equipped with an Oppo BDP-103, a Benchmark DAC2 HGC, and two pairs of Oppo PM-1 headphones. I’m very anxious to get my hands on their latest device, the HA-2 Portable Headphone Amplifier and DAC. Jason told me that it’s been very well received by the audio press and customers. I’m going to do a review as soon as I can get my hands on one. Knowing the build quality and reputation of the company, I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.
Figure – 1 – Jason Liao from Oppo Digital stopped by the AIX tables.
In fact, as Jason and I were standing there chatting a few customers gathered and were admiring the Oppo BDP-103 and recommending to a third gentleman that had not yet taken the plunge into Blu-ray. When I introduced Jason to them there were very enthusiastic and expressed great satisfaction with the players and company. Their designs, build quality, customer service, value, and attention to audio fidelity stands above most companies producing similar products.
I did mange to get away from the Marketplace room a couple of times. I stopped in at the Meridian demo room looking for Robert Stuart but learned he was at lunch. I did catch up with him right after the show at an event hosted by Scott Wilkinson of AVS Forum. Robert and I are going to have lunch today. I’m looking forward to learning more about his plans for MQA. While I was at the Meridian room, I spoke with a Meridian representative that I’ve known for many years. I asked how he describes the process and whether the hyperbole found in many of the reviews were accurate…we agreed that the MQA technology is not a fidelity enhancement process…it is a codec that identifies the specific hardware used in a digital conversion and preserves all of the fidelity in a smaller stream…that is backwards compatible. Seems like the overblown audiophile reviewer-speak doesn’t jive with the facts.
Finally, I poked my head in the Audio University room just after 4 pm to catch a little of the “DSD and Analog: The Great Convergence” panel. Dr. David Robinson moderated a crowded panel that included Bob Attiyeh, Cookie Marenco, Chad Kassem, Thom Moore from Five/Four Productions, Jonathan Tinn, and Dominique Brulhart of Merging Technologies.
The tag line from the show’s website says, “This panel discussion on DSD will focus on the similarities between Single, Double, and Quad DSD and analog recording.” An obvious effort is to tie DSD and analog recording…like that’s a good thing. When I entered the room, Bob told the full house that Dual and Quad DSD recording comes “extremely close” to analog recording. Then Chad and Cookie introduced themselves and continued promoting the myth of DSD.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a panel focused on the merits of PCM populated with people like Bob Stuart, Jonathan Reichbach of Amarra, John Siau from Benchmark, and Al Schmidt. Maybe I’ll make the pitch next year to the organizers for a panel called, “PCM: The Ultimate High-Resolution Digital Format…Bettering Analog.”
Got to run…the last day looms.