Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experiences

Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

Classical Music Online

Classics Online is a new-ish streaming and download service. Haven’t tried it yet, but Navos has certainly been a label that has brought us many hours of listening pleasure.

 

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Classics Online combines extremely high-quality audio, a carefully curated catalog, and an exceptional search engine into one platform designed for classical music fans.  It’s the only dedicated streaming and download platform built specifically for classical music, with all its variety, complexity, and exquisite sound.

The platform comes out of Naxos‘ decades-long devotion to bringing as much high-quality classical music to as many listeners as possible.  Its first foray into streaming began more than a decade before streaming became popular.

More info here on RockPaperSissors

THE Home Entertainment Show Newport 2016 – overview

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[our room with the Acapella Audio Arts Cellini speakers. Notice how the shadows on the ceiling look like ‘kissing horns’? :-) ]

This year we took videos of the show – a virtual tour of THE Show Newport.

This was inspired by Mike Fremer’s GoPro videos of Munich a few years ago. As I watched those at the time, I was ‘glued to the screen’ – trying to get a feeling for what it was like to actually Be There.

I used my Nexus 6 phone for the video. Hardly CNN quality but it did the job amazing well. As I watch the later videos, they really do look just like the show does to an audiophile attendee [albeit with acute audionervosa – hopping to room to room like that – *most* attendees are not quite that bad :-)]

I have just a few general observations to make.

When we started going to shows 15 years ago about 30 to 40% of the rooms sounded really bad. Now about 2 to 5% sound bad. [not that bad-sounding rooms don’t still get best of show – same as it ever was :-)].

On the other hand the number of rooms going for ‘the gold’ , to be the best systems ever heard, has gone from 2 to 5% to 0. CES used to be the best place to hear these kinds of systems, and a few of us at RMAF tried to do this as well. Maybe it is because the systems earning best of shows are, well, seemingly randomly selected [so what’s the point of trying? ]. Or maybe exhibitors are trying, unconsciously or not, to keep the price down as the economy is still causing a severe drag on the growth of our industry. Or maybe with CES in decline, there is no ‘one show to rule them all’ anymore so where do we show this ultimate attempt at high-end audio? [this describes our plight. Plus we lost our big room at RMAF several years ago, and the small rooms just suck for this kind of approach – not enough seating is one of many, many reasons].

There are still a few rooms with vinyl and they DO sound more like music. Computer-based audio, however, is continuing to improve. Vinyl makes it easy to make a system sound like music, but optimizing the poop out of a computer-based system does help. 😉

This is usually an upbeat show and it was again this year. People smile. Say hi. Say thank you. Kind of nice, actually. We do recommend people try and go attend this show, though we have been there the last three years and may skip next year for a change.

I used to talk about the sound in each room, but not going to do that this year. There are many reasons why – one of which is that we then just blend in with all the others who voice their opinions, our particular experiences, passion and attention to detail not counting for much in such a noisy environment. Maybe next show. But for now I think we will do better by picking up the lines that consistently, in several different configurations, sound better than others and putting ourselves out there in support of these brands.

Shows are really just one huge party of like-minded audiophiles – you get to visit your choices of 100+ ‘homes’ where they are playing music for you to enjoy. They are really, really fun and I hope our videos help inspire people to attend more of them.

 

THE Home Entertainment Show Newport 2016 – update

We got a few questions abut the videos and I thought I would answer them here.

The video for floor 12 [and mythical 13] will have to be redone. Some room was playing Michael Jackson’s Black or White [our room also plays this song once in awhile] and Sony is not only blocking the video from being played in any country – but will not let YouTube just erase that part of the soundtrack. Many songs at these shows that exhibitors played that are in the videos have copyright claims. Most allow me to choose to let them put ads on the videos in exchange for keeping their music in the video. This is fine with me [and I hope you all too]. Other copyright holders block the video from playing, but I can click a button on YouTube to mute the song and the video is unblocked – and just that one room will not have any music associated with it. Some other copyright holders will block the song in only one country [often just Germany]. These [sorry, Germany] I leave in the video so most people in the world can hear it. And then there is Sony and this particular Michael Jackson track. This will require us to redo the video when we get home and mute the song manually and upload it again.

 

2) The rooms are not crowded. When did you film this? Do they get filled to overflowing later in the show?

Filmed mostly around 11:30 to 4 pm [the 2nd and 3rd days]. I would take breaks to upload videos and recharge the phone that I was using [Nexus 6].

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[Raffle winner announcements at the close of the show]

People seem to arrive at rooms in waves. One minute it will be standing room only and the next empty. This show had good traffic in the rooms and not so much in the hallways [which means people had a tendency to actually stay and listen for a time, one song say, instead of just peeking in each room – unlike some other shows [CES can be bad like this, and some floors of RMAF].

5) I hope CES goes back to photos. All the new equipment is at CES and 80% of your photos appear nowhere else on the web. Your CES photos are a archive of audio over time.
CES is all but dead and we are not planning on going at all this year. Munich is the new CES. Yes, we miss Munich every year. Currently we are planning on going to Axpona and Capital Audio Fest, but this is tentative.
I took a photo of each room and their sign this year – but not sure if there will be time to post them.
Not sure if we will move to videos for shows or do both or what. It used to take 250 hours or so back in the day when I had processed each photo in Photoshop, to make each component look delectable and so tasty  :-) Now I try and take better photos to start with and process them automatically, but it still takes about 50 hours plus or minus to do the photo-based show reports.
I am so bored with my current camera – Canon 5D Mk 1. I’ve taken conservatively 100,000 photos with it. At some point I will get a new one and no doubt I will take photos of a few shows with it [I really enjoy taking photos of gear and hand processing them to make them look dreamy :-)]. But for now, things are happening here that are keeping us busy as you all will see shortly.
Thanks to David R. for such nice questions and comments…