This luxury venue was booked for the annual Clarity Conference and AGM. Clarity is the UK Hi Fi dealer and manufacturer trade association tasked with publicising our industry, communicating with purchasers and improving training for better informed sales, install and customer backup.
Industry presentations were led by Venkat Venkateshwaran of Dolby explaining and showcasing the Dolby Atmos higher performance multi-speaker Home Theatre standard, at their in-house 36 JBL speaker (26 dedicated to the surround channels) 68 seat movie theatre installation, and very loud and impressive it was. Forget Blumlien and phase, this is precision intensity pan potting directed from a sound effects control surface. The translation to the home theatre scene was outlined, noting compatibility with existing 7.1 multi-channel arrangements, bar the additional decoder function to the extra height feeds for the overhead effects. Venkat explained the success of the new format with 900 cinemas now equipped worldwide and some 250 films produced. Home speaker makers are finding new solutions to delivering the new height and directional information.
There are currently 167 brands confirmed as exhibiting at the 2015 show and no doubt there will be a few more by next February. HIFICRITIC has supported this show from its inception and it is the largest UK audio show running, despite the western location.
We enjoy meeting thousands of visitors and hearing about their systems. Please come and see us, and we are happy to advise on audio topics whenever we can. There will be special show offers from HIFICRITIC, strongly discounted back issues, introductory issues, and the current issue at a special price. In addition there will be an offer for new and lapsed subscribers.
Marriott City Centre Hotel Bristol Lower Castle Street, Bristol, BS1 3AD
Show Opening Times 20th - 22nd February 10:00am - 5:00pm
Press Launch at London’s Shard 69 December 4th 2014
Meridian, after years of research have launched a new digital recording archiving and transmission format which claims to be of potentially higher sound quality than presently used high resolution standards and yet is more economical of encoding, storage and transmission resources. The term lossless has been mentioned in this connection and is associated with the use of this term for MLP, Meridian Lossless Packing which has been widely licensed particularly for DVD and Blu Ray sound tracks to allow more economical audio data storage and transmission without loss of quality.
Much research by Bob Stuart and his colleagues including Peter Craven concerned reaching a better understanding of perception, what parameters are key to sound quality, and a shift from a traditional emphasis on recording the frequency components of sounds, to better mapping of the time related or transient components. Studies on perception in recent years have showed that humans are better able to resolve and appreciate transients than frequencies. Grossly simplifying the argument we understand that a single pure frequency, a sine wave carries no musical information, it is dead, static, and cannot even reveal its location, yet our recording technologies seem to have concentrated on accurate capturing groups of sine waves.
A reportedly Pulitzer prize nominated environmental journalist and Hi Fi enthusiast, Harry Pearson founded and financed The Absolute Sound in 1971 ostensibly to spur Gordon Holt founder of the similarly independent Stereophile magazine, to continue that publication in a more organised and timely fashion. Both these publisher-editors, also gifted audio critics, felt that there was more to describing sound quality than brought out by rote audio measurements combined with rubber stamped review approvals, the latter the practice of the vast majority of magazines of the day in the USA and indeed worldwide.
Pearson established the idea of the absolute sound, that the best quality replay of natural well recorded classical and non electronic music should approach, by instinctive and experienced judgement, the natural sound itself. He defined a rich vocabulary of subjective terms for reproduced sound to help communicate an understanding and appreciation of sound quality variations. He commissioned what may be the longest published review of a turntable ever, 35 pages of TAS on the technology and sound quality of the Goldmund Reference, a review I could not have written without his guiding example. His contribution to subjective high end audio reviewing and journalism has been immense, arising from a deep love and understanding of live classical music.
[17 November 2014: Correction made from Pulitzer prize 'winning' to 'reportedly' and 'nominated'.]
Windsor, 1 - 2 November 2014
Tipped off on the day I managed to get a mid stalls seat late in the afternoon and legged it to the Neil Cowley gig at the Barbican concert hall London, Friday night. I have their Naim CD release The Face of Mount Molehill and it was a good taster for the evening’s music making. That was a mixture of jazz and improvisatory rock, the former for a lyrical, sometimes rhapsodic jazz invention, the latter for a driving power beat and quite fantastic dynamics and dynamic range. The ensemble timing is truly knife edge and these musicians really enjoy what they do.
Somehow the PA rig was so well tuned in the Barbican Hall acoustic that you could close your eyes and hear a really natural sound, yet much larger and more powerful than an acoustic trio could possibly play unaided. Both the sound and performances were fast, beautifully timed and did not pale for the whole 100 or so minutes of intense playing.
Seeing their present, punishing multi-city schedule, almost one a day, I am amazed at the fantastic commitment these three make night after night to generate these powerful performances.
Evan Jenkins Drums Neil Cowley Piano Rex Horan Bass
Smaller than last year but convivial and relaxed, this weekend show somehow continues and was enjoyable. Most rooms were well attended, this partly reflecting the modest number of rooms. HFICRITIC sold many back numbers, saw many friends and subscribers and dished out advice where appropriate. Download the full show report.
Martin Colloms has a passion for audio and music and has written for many of the key hi-fi magazines worldwide.