Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS — 25 June 2015

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At 10:30 yesterday morning, Marc Finer of the DEG moderated a panel on high-resolution music (I’m going to have to get used to the new name associated with the new logo). There were representatives from The Recording Academy®, Warner Brothers Records, Sony Legacy Records, and Universal Music. They discussed some important developments regarding high-res music.

The first was the importance of education. What steps can content and hardware companies take to educate members of the recording industry about high-resolution music. In March, there was a daylong symposium at Capitol Records on Hi-Res Music. Individuals in the non-technical aspects of the industry were introduced to the latest developments and played examples of high-res music in the famous Capitol Studios. It’s critically important that everyone be included in the understanding and promotion of high-resolution music. And it’s equally important that the message be clear, accurate, and consistent.

In addition to the new Hi-Res Music logo announced yesterday, the Producers and Engineers Wing of The Recording Academy® have established a set of High-Res Guidelines that will be distributed to the production community. Yes, the engineers and producers are going to getting the scoop on hi-res music production. This is also a tremendously important – perhaps the most critical step – in getting real high-resolution music produced. As a member of the P&E Wing for the past 15 years and strong advocate for high-res music, I would have liked to have contributed to this discussion…I wasn’t.

The guidelines include:

• The importance of providing masters that have either been digitally recorded or re-mastered from analog sources at the highest resolution possible.
• The value of establishing workflow protocols and procedures for recording new projects at 96kHz/24-bit and higher.
• The need for utilizing best practices when transferring analog masters to hi-res digital formats.
• The importance of packaging Hi-Res Music files with high quality digital liner notes, credits, and other descriptive metadata that complements these recordings.
• The use of best efforts when documenting the origin format (“provenance”) of these recordings, in order to provide as much transparency to consumers as possible.
• A list of recommendations that support the minimum production requirements necessary to enable music labels to deliver Hi-Res Music content.

[Note: Nice to see my suggestion for “provenance” being incorporated.]

They also announced a demonstration program that will roll out in the fall at about 80 Magnolia A/V Centers (many located inside of Best Buy Stores). Sony is apparently leading the charge and will supply hardware for these locations that will allow customers to actually experience hi-res music. Of course, it will be the content that’s coming from the major labels and won’t include audiophile level stuff but it is a step in the right direction. People have got to hear better fidelity in order to appreciate it.

Following the panel, I walked through the rest of the exhibits. There were new wireless speakers from Monster that claimed to be ultra high-resolution; there were wireless ear monitors from Headnotes that use Kleer, a lossless transmission protocol, and a squishy “piano” keyboard from Roli that let’s you do all sorts of cool performance things.

I did my Hi-Res demo sessions in the afternoon, which were troubled by an Oppo machine that proved a little stubborn. The attendees were very impressed and I collected a bunch of business cards of interested press.

In the evening, I was allowed to participate in the Sony event at the famous Battery Studios. As a recording and music geek, this proved to be a rare treat. I’ll share the details in tomorrow.

It was long but very positive day.

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(16) Readers Comments

  1. “Remastered from analog sources” is fine by me, so long as provenance is sufficiently presented to discount the “hi-Rez music” logo, which of course should then be predicated with an asterisk *.

    • We certainly need clarity in this area…and I’ve had a flash of inspiration that might help. What if we called the standard definition audio that populates most of the download sites as “High-Res Transfers”? I even worked on a logo last evening on the plane coming home from NYC. This might work.

  2. The new James Taylor album is excellent. I wish I could listen to it in 5.1.

    • I’m working on trying to get a surround mix approved.

  3. Sounds 100% correct.
    In retrospect, the way our (often dysfunctional) industry operates, the early confusion, red herrings, etc., are just the signs of a big, slow beast waking up from hibernation; all the b.s. was totally predictable, basically .

    Look at audio/hi-fi history; every time there has been a format or delivery medium change, consumers get half or mis-informed(THX, OMG what a bogus campaign that was/is almost never properly explained to the public), specialty audio manufacturers react sluggishly or foolishly, and well, the stuff that goes on in the music business itself makes all the other errors look relatively diminutive.

    We’ll see if Sony can stir it up enough. But Mark, there’s a company which has allowed how many zillion Play-stations to be hacked, called CD “Perfect Forever,”, and along with successes has laid many a smelly egg in the consumer marketplace. Remember mini-disc? And now they may be a savior?
    Again, this is why I stay in the middle, because everybody has ‘got some dirt on them’. Constructive criticism is vital, but at least half of the ‘haters’, of which there seems to be a very large number, base their negative energies on ignorance or mis-information, the very roots of all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

    • The whole thing is a mess because of differences of opinions…and facts. The marketers are winning. Another logo? The high-res music advocates have just tried to reinvent themselves. I talked with the various parties in New York. They hear what I have been saying and they are reacting.

  4. Nice work! There is hope after all! Really seems like the forces of honesty and transparency in the production chain are going to win. Consumers will win too.

    • Don’t get too excited. The Recording Academy® is not unlike the DEG and CEA…they have a membership that has specific and diverse needs.

  5. It’s always gratifying to see when someone willing to bang their head against a brick wall actually manages to make some progress now and then against the wall.

    Well done and long may this winning trend continue!

    Cheers
    Mick

    • We’ll see. I’m going to push hard to get in on the conversation. After all, there are few members of the P&E Wing of the NARAS organization that have made more high-resolution recordings than I have.

  6. I’ll repeat a bit of what I posted on yesterdays post.
    Just like the Video industry had to be forced by the FCC to close down its analog transmitters and switch to the new digital channels, the recording industry should be forced to move away from their old analog tape recorders and switch to HD digital. This could be easily done by refusing to call anything with an analog recording provenance HD. When word gets around about HD no one is going to want to buy a old SD release.This is what we’ve been talking about all along, if it came from an analog source and was not recorded at a minimum 24/96 its NOT HDA, or HDM, or whatever. Only a HD digital recording can become a HD release.
    How do we, and who, sets a quality standard for a 30, 40, 50 year old analog recording and say it’s good enough to be remastered into something that is acceptable to be called HD, this is ridiculous.

    “Sony is apparently leading the charge”. So I guess that charge will champion DSD? 🙁

    “The importance of packaging Hi-Res Music files with high quality digital liner notes, credits, and other descriptive metadata that complements these recordings”
    WOO HOO! I downloaded HDTracks James Tayor – Before This World and it came with a great pdf of everything that would be on the LP, all the artwork, lyrics, etc. About time! Why should we be paying these premium prices and not get the same content we would get with an LP. I’ll never buy a download of Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick unless it includes the newspaper content that was on the cover of the LP. The story of Gerald Milton needs to be heard. LOL

    • We are not nor should we be mandating whether someone has to use analog or digital any more than movie directors should be told they have to shoot on digital video of any specification. These are all means of producing creative works. I have no problem with using analog equipment. I do object to labeling them “high-resolution audio” or “high-resolution music”.

      • So then the recording community will continue to turn out analog based recordings and we will have minimal high resolution qualified product to purchase. Not what I want and despite your PC response, it’s not the direction you would like to see the future of audio be either.

        • Sal, I don’t have any problem with an artist or producer choosing to use a particular tool to achieve their sonic goals. However, I know that most recordings aren’t made that way. In fact, most recordings aren’t made in high-res digital. We’re going to try to change that within the NARAS committee.

  7. Excellent demo as always Mark. In a rather difficult room. I really want those “mystery tracks” !

    • Thanks Joe! It was good to see and thanks for making the effort.

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