For the second consecutive year, Hi-Res Audio made a major statement on the main floor of the Venetian Hotel via a large Ballroom exhibit and star-studded panels. I took in "Meet the Hi-Res Music Creators." Moderated by recording engineer Maureen Droney (pictured fourth, going left to right), Senior Executive Director of the Producers & Engineers wing of The Recording Academy (the Grammy people), the panel consisted of four major engineers who record multiple genres in hi-res.
Meetings were frequently in progress when I glanced at the HDTracks booth in the Hi-Res Audio Workshop ballroom. Every time I take a look at the company's site, it's loaded with new releases from everyone from The Who and Eric Clapton to Anna Netrebko and a host of Grammy 2015 nominees. It was great to see David Chesky again, even though he kept mistaking me for tenor Jonas Kaufmann. I should be so lucky.
Marc Sheforgen (left) and Chad Kassem (right) of Acoustic Sounds' Super HiRez DSD download site spilled the beans that in a few weeks, the world's first live-to-DSD hi-rez recordings of "a handful of" blues artists will become available as both stereo and multi-channel downloads. Recorded in the company's Blue Heaven recording studio/concert venue, a converted church in Salina, KS, these may be the first unedited live DSD recordings ever issued.
Hi-rez pioneer/evangelist/recording engineer Mark Waldrep of AIX Records held forth in the Hi-Res Audio Showroom in the Venetian Hotel, near booths from Super HiRez and HDTracks. AIX Records' 2015 sampler, containing three different mixes of 70 tracks drawn from its rich catalog, is due sometime in February.
Critical Mass has just released its new entry-level Sotto Voce equipment rack ($4500 for four tiers). Far more affordable than the company's other racks, it is made of Sapele, a wood that I understand is in the Mahogany family. The rack is upgradeable to include Critical Mass's filter systems that enhance component performance. The upgrade path starts at $225, and can include filter systems that cost up to $2895.
Grant Samuelson of Shunyata Research introduced me to the company's new Sigma series of power cords. Designed to intercept noise at a component's power supply, the Sigmas are available in different models specifically intended for digital, analog, and high-current equipment. Each model has a different ETRON filter set that measurably reduces noise for the class of equipment for which it is designed.
It's not every show that a cable company invites a publication's staff to breakfast to preview a power conditioner whose faceplate isn't even ready for viewing. But after a short but most impressive listen to the patent pending circuitry in AudioQuest's forthcoming Niagara 7000 Low-Z PowerAC Grounded Noise-Dissipation System ($TBD), I'm convinced that something special is coming our way.
No, we're not talking alchemy, but rather AudioQuest's new line of USB to Lightning cables. Designed to facilitate transfer of music from iOS devices to computers or whatever, AQ's Cinnamon, Carbon, and Diamond models made their first appearance at CEDIA. Steve Niemi of AudioQuest (above), who introduced me to the cables, forecasts the lowest-priced Forest model by summer.
Synergistic Research has just introduced four levels of its new, hand-fabricated Atmosphere interconnects ($695$2500 for a 1m/pair, depending upon level) and Atmosphere speaker cables (approx. twice the price). Non-active, which means that they don't need to be connected to an external power supply, albeit actively grounded, the cables come complete with blue and red tuning bullets specifically designed for this new "passive" cable line.