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.