Is It Jake Or Is It Digital?

Photo: John Atkinson

It's safe to say our experiment bringing Jake Shimabukuro to CES this year as a live music reference worked out pretty well. Response was overwhelmingly positive and we're sifting through the comments and will start filing reports on each of the seven rooms we visited over the next week or so.

Comparing live musicians to their recorded selves has been done at CES and other shows many times. But to our knowledge, nobody has ever taken the recording and live musician to a variety of rooms at a show and reported on the results.

The point of this approach would seem obvious: we have a live reference to compare directly to a recording of that reference as we move from room to room. And since the live musician and playback equipment are both in the same space, room acoustics will be consistent, for better or worse, for both.

But there are still some important caveats that need to be acknowledged: the microphone (and its placement) and recording equipment's effect on the final track. Every microphone has a distinct sound, and no two (and sometimes even of the same make and model) sound exactly alike. So, though we've tried to choose a neutral sounding classic mic (2 vintage Neumann KM84 microphones and Lavry mic preamps), we take this into account as we compare. After a few rooms, these variables became familiar and helped inform our observations.

To minimize any other distractions, the track we used, "Eleanor Rigby", had been recorded direct to 24/192 PCM from the mic/preamp in a treated room with no processing, compression or reverb added. The recording was made by the same engineer, Milan Bertosa, who recorded the famous Israel Kamakawiwoʻole "Iz" version of "Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" Furthermore, we used the same instrument and brand of strings from the session.


We also used 24/88 tracks from Jake's recent release, Nashville Sessions, the CD version of which is out now. So those of you at home with this album can play along with us. More to come.

Anton's picture

I have great interest in your experience!

The absolute sound rears its head!

drdk's picture

Did a search and couldn't find the hires download for Nashville. Anyone have a source? Saw Jake about 10 years ago and he is a great entertainer, and a true talent.

Jon Iverson's picture
I've amended the text to be more clear - sorry about that. I too hope Jake will release this one in HD - it sounds awesome.
ednazarko's picture

Reading about HD. No place to get the HD in question. Jake, Jake, come on... I've watched so many videos of yours, but the sound quality is just about right for my laptop's speakers. Your virtuosity, way, way better.

Several friends of mine are jazz musicians and the only way I get HD of their albums is on thumb drives from them - everyone else has to do CDs or vinyl. But it doesn't have to be that way.

Not going to buy the CD in the hopes that we'll get it in HD at some point. Now that there are multiple HD outlets, that's my new policy. Old stuff that's niche enough that no one cares, I'll buy a CD and rip it. Otherwise, if it's not HD, it'd not on my music server.