I Want To Take You Higher
There were a number of seminars at The NY Audio & AV Show 2012. I moderated Saturday's version of I Want To Take You Higher – The Present and Future of Digital Music Delivery and Playback which included Rob Robinson (Channel D), Larry Ho (Light Harmonic), David Chesky (HDtracks & Chesky Records), and Andreas Koch (Playback Designs). The seminar was an hour long which isn't really much time for introductions, presentations, Q&A (and jokes).
Mikey Fremer gave his World-Famous Turntable Set-Up Seminar before ours and his ran a bit long because of the long lines of fans waiting to meet Michael afterward (no joke). As it turned out, Michael was still packing up his turntable when I began so I said something like, "Some of you may view this as a symbolic event..." which got some giggles from the crowd. I went on to clarify, "Of course I'm joking as I enjoy listening to records." To which Michael added, "Of course, you like music."
And then one of my favorite moments of the seminar occurred when Rob Robinson of Channel D said that he also listens to vinyl about 90% of the time, and then Larry Ho of Light Harmonic shared that he prefers vinyl when listening by himself and computer-based playback for parties and such. And the reason I enjoyed this so much is that in hi-fi we tend to fall into camps, tubes v solid state, analog v digital, and so on. And in my opinion the idea that one camp is more right than another, which is typically justified by the proponents of one side suggesting they are more knowledgeable, is simply nonsense. Here we have three people (I'm including myself) who are deeply involved in computer audio who also enjoy listening to LPs. At the end of the day, the real winners are the people who enjoy listening to music most and most often.
There were a number of interesting questions from the audience ranging from, "What's the least amount you have to pay to get a good DAC?" to "Is USB really a good method of connectivity for audio?" and "Is a purpose-built server better than a computer?". The thing that I found most interesting was the attitude from some people that seemed to suggest they felt a DAC for computer audio did not play by hi-fi component rules. Rather it behaved more akin to an appliance where someone could objectively say that DAC X was good enough for anyone. As if we can avoid the fact that a DAC is as system and personal-preference dependent as everything else in our hi-fi hobby where there's no such thing as the best this or that when we talk about enjoying listening to music.
I picked the 1969 Sly And The Family Stone song, I Want To Take You Higher as the title of our seminar because its a song about music. It's a song about the enjoyment of music plain and simple which is why we travel to hi-fi shows and why we spend so much time, energy and money on this wonderful hobby of ours.