How We Listened to Graham Nash's This Path Tonight At CES 2016

Before starting in on the room reports, here is a little background on how we set things up.

We wanted the best possible sound, so I asked the record label, Blue Castle (formed by Graham Nash and David Crosby), if I could have an HD copy of Nash's new album This Path Tonight straight from the mastering studio. The album was mastered in 24/96 PCM by Bob Ludwig, and the label agreed to supply the first digital copy to be played in the wild on the condition that it never leave Graham's laptop where they would place it themselves. I agreed.

The Village recording studio monitoring system.

As soon as Graham arrived in Las Vegas, we had dinner and I went to his room and installed the Roon music player app on his laptop and registered it. Roon immediately found the folder with the new album, and pretty much the rest of the music on the computer as well (Neil Young's latest popped up for example). I pulled up a couple tracks for testing and sound poured out of the computer speakers. We were in business in less than 4 minutes.

Roon running on Graham's laptop.

I had arranged with each of the rooms we were going to visit to have a USB input available. AudioQuest graciously loaned us one of their top-of-the-line Diamond USB cables for the day and I added it to the Cardas USB cable I already had in my bag. In the end, three rooms chose the Diamond, two used the Cardas, and the rest supplied their own USB cable.

In each room, we hooked Graham's laptop up to the DAC, booted the computer and then booted Roon, putting the player into Exclusive Mode (for highest possible sound quality), checking the box next to "Use Integer Mode if Supported" and selecting the exhibitor's DAC.

Producer Shane Fontayne checking a mix.

I held my breath in each room as I hit play for the first time since everyone in the room including Nash is looking at me, but it always worked without a single hitch. Nash would direct me as to which cut he wanted to hear and off we went. Graham always sat in the sweet spot, sometimes with other listeners and sometimes by himself. We usually listened to three tracks all the way through, including something acoustic and something that pushed the needles to the red.

Depending on where we were in the schedule, we'd ask the room host if they'd like to play something for us, then get some group photos and head out the door. We tried to spend between 30-45 minutes in each room and I quietly snapped photos with my iPhone. As we were walking down the hallway I'd hit record on the "Voice Memo" app on the phone and get Nash's impressions of what he'd just heard.

deckeda's picture

... until it's released? And labels wonder why or how content gets leaked.

Jon, ask 'em if they plan to cut the LP from that 24/96 file or from a lesser version please.

Jon Iverson's picture
But yeah that's a long time to wait. However I feel we were lucky to get to hear it this early, since they hadn't figured CES into their plans when setting up the tour and release schedule. So they are doing us a pretty big favor I think, letting us play it in public this far out. I'll try to find out how the LPs will be sourced. There will be a complete format release post at the end of the week--turns out they now will be releasing on half a dozen formats!
defgibbon's picture

( :^)

My old Revox is hungry for some music other than the usual Brooklyn Ambient/Electronica that's released on cassette these days...

StereophileFan's picture

So exciting!