CES 2017: The Wrap

yea: those bastards at AARP had a room amid the hi-fi rooms at CES 2017 to remind us we're all going to die a humiliating death

It all depends on how you look at it.

The general consensus among the people I spoke to who attend CES to do business was business was done as well or better than year's past. If you asked some reviewers, you heard a different story; a story of less exhibitors, less attendees, less relevance, the end of CES, the end of hi-fi, the end of the world (you know, writers). Chicken Little would have offered a sunnier picture.

Clearly the big news of CES 2017 within our world was, drum roll and ready your pitchforks and torches, MQA and Tidal. Just count the number of comments every, single, solitary MQA-related post gets. Case closed.

There was also the news that hi-res is coming to Rhapsody/Napster and Pandora this year which bodes well for the future. And it bodes well for a number of reasons that have nothing to do bit/sample rates. As with MQA/Tidal, people are getting better quality digital delivery. As Craig Kallman, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Records, so succinctly said, "We are the only industry that has spent 30 years downgrading the sound quality of its product" adding, "Quality and convenience of delivery can now be in perfect harmony."

The promise of digital is alive and well and ready to be extracted from the bits. The thing of it is, good old CD-quality bits can work as well, or better, than more bits. That's because there are more important aspects of reproducing music including but not limited to the quality of the music (that's the BIGGEST ONE), the quality of the recording, your level of interest in listening to music, where you listen, and so on down the line.

The good news to take away from CES 2017 is people care. Really smart people and they are as passionate about your enjoyment as they've ever been.

morrismrinak's picture

I just started listening to Tidal MQA this week. I like it. Is it perfect.. bit perfect... no. Do I care... No. For $20/month though I can really enjoy a lot of great sounding music. ENJOY IT(the operatve words here). It's light years more enjoyable (again) than mp3's. I have no current plans to purchase an MQA decoding dac but I'm happy they are available. I don't feel that this new format is being shoved down our throats... yet. Just take it or leave it. MQA is just another tool in the box. Besides, being an early adopter in this hobby has almost always cost me.

Anton's picture

You are listening to MQA without an MQA DAC?


Michael Lavorgna's picture
...can listen to MQA. The switch was flipped last Thursday.

See MQA Decoding Explained

morrismrinak's picture

Thanks for the flow chart!

Anton's picture

Then how come I had to buy an MQA capable DAC?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
But if you read the post I linked to, you'll understand the options.
morrismrinak's picture

No. I am listening in 24/96. My DAC doesn't;t decode MQA. All i was trying to say is that it sounds better than other streaming music as is. Waiting to borrow a DAC that decodes MQA to get the full picture.

solarophile's picture

It's here, it's cheap, audiophiles can listen to it now. It's also obviously the only product that seems reasonably desirable from all the other stuff. Much of it looking really overpriced yet again.

Many of the criticisms seem reasonable. But it's not exactly pitchforks and torches now that software decoding is out. In fact, I suspect we are seeing software decoding BECAUSE so many people lodged complaints! I think we should be thankful.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...because it was part of the MQA road map. Thinking otherwise is wishful thinking.
solarophile's picture

If so predestined, why did they kill Auralic's firmware upgrade last year so abruptly? And why was there no discussion about this?

Face it. Opposition is strong. Opposition is good.

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...at older MQA reports, you'll see mention of a software decode from fairly early on.

It is my understanding that Auralic did not understand their contractual agreement with MQA.

I am not anything about opposition. I am speaking to what appears to wishful thinking. I also feel it's important to point this out so as not to give conspiracy theorists more fuel for their ever-burning fire.

I know, good luck with that ;-)

solarophile's picture

I dunno man, where was there talk of software decode early on? It was all about "end to end" this and "authenticated" that so it somehow had to be hardware based with an approved DAC. I don't remember anyone saying software decoding was coming on a wide scale. Seems like revisionist history to me.

It's not conspiracy theory at all. Just commenting on how the business reacts to public reception over the last 2 years when it comes to MQA. I run a business and this is standard practice to evaluate the business model and redirect as any good organization with leadership should!

Michael Lavorgna's picture
...I asked Spencer when was software decoding coming. He responded, "We're focusing on our hardware partners now."

I asked because I'd been hearing about it for months (or longer). The specific details were never discussed since it wasn't an option. Now it is.

monetschemist's picture

what is AARP? American Association of Retired Persons?