Stereophile and Graham Nash at CES 2016

All Photos: Amy Grantham

The premise is simple: how would a seasoned musician react to the sound of their new album on a variety of audiophile systems at CES?

I tossed the idea to Graham Nash, and he agreed to participate in the experiment, more than a little curious about this thing called high-end audio. Graham is always full of energy and very articulate, so should provide some very interesting perspective for Stereophile readers.

The plan is to bring an HD 24/96 version of his new (and not yet released) album to as many rooms as we can fit into a day at CES. We'll play a few tracks, and he'll give me his reactions and I'll file room-by-room reports. We picked Thursday to tour the Venetian and Mirage suites, so the reports should start to appear shortly after.

There are no guarantees as to his reactions, and let's not forget that he's already heard these songs hundreds of times on some of the best studio monitors in the world. Nash is polite (he's English after all) but honest, so I expect we'll get some good observations.

Graham Nash at The Village listening to playback.

Nash recorded the new album This Path Tonight in an eight-day period at The Village recording studios in West LA, between tours with Crosby, Stills & Nash and his solo shows. His first solo work in fourteen years, the album is produced by co-writer Shane Fontayne and is slated for release April 15th on CD, Pono 24/96 and 180 gram vinyl formats on Blue Castle Records.

Traveling together in the back of a car one day, Nash pulled his laptop out of a bag and asked if I had my "audiophile" headphones with me. "I figure you usually travel with them," he added. Well actually I don't (sorry Tyll), so he handed me his fluorescent Koss earbuds and proceeded to hit play.

And it sounded pretty good! Right away I was thinking, this should sound awesome on a good system.

And so the plan was hatched. Stay tuned.

tonykaz's picture

They'll cringe.

Maybe they'll let you do this after hours, maybe.

Nash would be a higher authority with a Standard in hand.

That's like letting Bob Katz bring in one of his recordings, he'd have to notice every little thing missing or over-exadurated. Plus, CES rooms are horrible acoustic spaces where they only have a short time to correct. ( maybe one day or less )

Nah, your asking for troubles. That Whistler fella brought a knowledgeable recording industry fella to a Room and got shut-out which is exactly what you should expect.

CES is a dog & pony show for the manufacturers, they're lucky if it goes off smoothly, the reviewers job is to make them look good and be an Advocate, not a truth teller, for gods sake.

Tony in Michigan

ps. you'll thank me for this advice!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I, "the whistler fella," did not bring San Francisco Symphony recording engineer and producer Jack Vad to rooms in Denver. He was a presenter at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and went on his own.

Most rooms I visit at shows that can accommodate either CDs or USB sticks let me / us play our own music if I/we request it. I don't think anyone has ever told Michael Fremer that he can't play his own vinyl. It does behoove us, however, to bring well-recorded music, not lousy sounding burns of burns of burns or poor, sonically-compromised wireless downloads that send everyone running out the door.

The spaces in the Venetian can sound far better (when set up with care) than you would lead people to believe.

Finally, my "reviewer's job" is to report my experience. I am not there to be an Advocate or publicist, and I don't intend to be. When I wax positive about something, as I've just done in my pre-show MQA story, I do so because I believe it.

jason victor serinus

Jon Iverson's picture
Which is why we've arranged his auditions with manufacturers mostly in advance and plan to have fun with this. It's about music after all, and what I've heard of the new album so far should be a kick on some great equipment. Certainly won't be the same ol' audiophile nitpicking I hope!
tonykaz's picture

Ok, it should be a nice thing. Glad it won't be nitpicking.
Nash will be super, he has a career to re-launch so he'll be his pleasant self, people will love him.
I hope you take him to meet Karen Sumner at Transparent, she'd be thrilled and she's an important Advertiser of Stereophile's.
I'll be reading your stuff, seems you bring excitement to things.

Tony in Michigan

Steve C's picture

It will be nice to know what he actually likes. Love the horn loaded studio monitors in the picture. Maybe horns will make a resurgence.

tonykaz's picture

He's gonna get burned out, like everyone does. What happens when you don't take him to somebody important, that person is gonna feel slighted.
Geez, did y'all clear this with your manufacturers and get the whole thing prioritized? Nash is Celebrity!
I hope it goes well for you, if it goes sideways ( like it easily can ) you'll have serious problems.
We at GM had Frank Sinatra at one of our Pontiac Auto Show events, big dealers were pissed they didn't get to meet him.

Autographs, pictures, you're gonna have your hands full.

Tony in Michigan

ps. I won't be there but old geezers like me will be following him around like groupies of old. Good Luck

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

When all is said and done, Tony, it's good to read about your enthusiasm.

I think the team of Jon and Graham is one of the coolest ideas I've encountered in audio journalism in a long, long time. Personally, I'm excited to read the reports. I also know that, after decades in the business, both men certainly know how to handle themselves in public, and keep their eyes on the prize.

PBNAUDIO's picture

Jason, you and Graham Nash are more than welcome in our room, We are displaying with Dayton Audio for whom I designed a speaker for. This will be powered by a full stack of our Olympia Amplifiers, Venetian room 30-123 - hope to see you there, we can accommodate what ever format you wish to bring.

Good Listening

Peter Noerbaek
PBN Audio

Jon Iverson's picture
Hi Peter - I'll be hosting Graham this time around - will try to stop by Wednesday to discuss.
Jeff Joseph's picture

I think its a very cool idea, I still remember spinning records for Max Roach at the Stereophile Show in 1996!

If you have the time you are welcome to visit our room, 29-104 in the Venetian. The speakers are the new Joseph Audio Profiles, and we're running Bel Canto Design electronics with Cardas Audio Cables.

Jon Iverson's picture
Will do.
Glotz's picture

Love Graham! Like An Angel!

Catch22's picture

I can't wait to read what he says about the prices of some of this stuff. "Holy codpiece, Jon! I don't even think the Queen Mum could afford this shit!"

mauidj's picture

Some pretty negative comments here. Shame because this is an awesome idea. Wish i was you Jon.
I love Graham and his music. Saw him recently with Crosby on Maui and they friggin' rocked
He is really into the details of art and music...a pioneer in the art reproduction this should be a very interesting read. More of this kind of arcticle would put Stereophile back on my reading list.

eriks's picture

what a great idea I think! Though if it were me I'd have picked Penelope Cruz or Jennifer Anniston as my top companions for avoiding CES altogether. Oh, wait, what site am I on??

volvic's picture

Long time coming, interestingly, other mags have taken the opposite approach; taking people who love music but have no real hi-fi at home to gauge their experiences at hi-fi shows.