Is it possible?
We’ve been working, as of late, on a long term project to obviate the differences in digital audio delivery methods.
We all understand that audio sent over USB sounds different than the same bits sent over coax via S/PDIF or TOSLINK, or a balanced cable, or I2S over HDMI, or through a CAT5 cable, or WIFI over the home network.
Bits are bits. Those bits should come out of each of these delivery “pipes” exactly the same regardless of the delivery method. And they do. Only they don’t. Their timing is different, their associated noise levels are different and, clearly, they sound different. But the bits themselves are the same. Curious.
Think of it like this: I send an identical letter to someone through the post office, UPS, FedEx and DHL. The letter is identical, the speed it gets delivered varies as does the amount of hassle getting it. Same letter, very different experience in receiving it.
So the question becomes can we eliminate those differences? Our long term research project suggests yes. And if it becomes a reality, everything we think we know changes. We came close with the Digital Lens. We’re getting even closer with our project.
But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Changes of this magnitude are rare.
The last day.
The last day of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) makes me feel badly for the exhibitors. The show floor is empty, the Venetian hotel halls deserted. If I have the time it’s when I come around to visit. Just walking into the room makes folks smile, happy to have anyone to even say hello to. One wonders why the show has remained a 4-day event for so many years. Fortunately, we removed ourselves from this torture a few years ago and now CES is a delight.
We have attended and displayed at CES for more than 40 shows. The CES is supposed to be for dealers, distributors, press and manufacturers only. But as numbers have decreased over the years, it’s increasingly becoming a mix of consumers and trades people. And perhaps more importantly we started noticing the same faces coming round to say hello; great to see people, but it’s an expensive welcome mat. And to make matters worse, when the room gets full of people looking at the gear and listening to the system, the folks we really need to see have to stand in line to manage just a few minutes of chatting.
It wasn’t always this way. The main show is at the convention center and that’s where the crowds go. Back in the 90′s, when high-end manufacturers wanted a piece of the growing consumer electronics market, someone got the bright idea of adding a separate hotel where enthusiast-based manufacturers could setup a system to attract new business. The show organizers loved the idea because there was increased revenue for them. The CE dealers liked the idea hoping to expand their businesses by adding high-end audio products, something few of them are interested in today. Over time the value of those separate hotel rooms has dwindled to the point of making no sense at all.
So it was a brave move for us to quit displaying at CES a few years back and I haven’t regretted that decision for a moment. We attend the show, but instead of setting up a system we rent a big beautiful suite with a giant living room for two days. We invite all our dealers and distributors to join us and manage to afford each of them an easy half hour meeting. The conversations are relaxed and fruitful. In the evenings we share a meal and split a few bottles of wine. It’s great.
If we have new products we bring them along. We don’t setup a system, we don’t lug giant crates around.
Setting up a system in a hotel room should be left for the growing number of consumer shows.
The last day of CES is now the best day.