On Friday afternoon I gave my hour-long presentation in the Aspen room of the Westin Hotel. The title was “The Myth of High-Resolution Audio/Music”. I hooked up my Mac Laptop to the projector and fired up my Power Point presentation. Earlier that morning I tweaked my presentation from last year “High-Resolution Audio Demystified” based on the latest developments…the new Hi-Res Music term and logo etc.
The organizers of the CAS 2015 highlighted the “High Resolution Revolution” on their website and in their marketing efforts. The VIP packages that were offered included one of my sampler discs. The subject of high-res is part of the audiophile lexicon these days. But it still remains misunderstood and over hyped.
I introduced the topic by highlighting the title of my presentation. Why have my previous talks focused on high-resolution audio and now the title has both audio and music? If you’ve been following the posts from this past summer, you know the reason. The hardware people have one set of terms, requirements, and their own logo and the content people have a different set of terms, a much lower set of requirements, and a new logo. All hope of single clear message was unceremoniously thrown out the window at the CE Week event in New York City.
There are two tables just outside of the ballroom draped in Pono yellow staffed with a diverse group of “supporters”. Yes, Pono showed up at the event this year and have about 6 Pono players on flexible stands clipped to the front edge of the table. The Pono player is available for sale at the show for only $325! And they seemed to be doing a robust business…at least there were a lot of people coming by their table listening to the devices. They had the John Atkinson reprint from Stereophile extolling the virtues of the player.
In my “Myth” presentation, I talked about the Pono player and the PonoMusic website. The player’s guts are well designed and capable of delivering good sound on the go or at home. And it is possible to load the device up with content like my own tracks…ones that actually sound really good. However, I explained that Neil Young’s decision to include 2 million CD rips in order to inflate the number of items in their online catalog was misguided and confusing. There was a large banner at the Pono tables bragging about the fact that PonoMusic is the largest provider of high-quality music downloads. It is if you count ripped CDs in that number. I thought the whole idea was to move beyond CD res and get back to the “soul of the music”.
In fact, in the John Atkinson Stereo article he specifically calls out Neil Young’s aversion…actually disgust would be a more appropriate description…to the sound of compact discs. So I expressed my disappointment with whole Pono concept of moving the goalposts in order to maximize dollars without actually improving the fidelity of downloaded music.
I closed by sharing some information about my new book and Blu-ray disc. I passed out a newly printed post card and urged people to visit the pre-launch page at Music and Guide: A User Guide to Better Sound Unfortunately, the contact section of the new site is not yet functioning…the theme developer says it is but I don’t seem to get any emails. If you’re interested in hearing about the Kickstarter launch, just shoot me an email directly and I’ll start a contact list.
Of course, if you’re a registered reader of this blog, you’ll hear about it.
Got to get the day started and head over to Day 2 of the CAS6 show.