Recap: GRAMMY Pro Studio Summit: High Resolution Audio

San Francisco Chapter

  • The consumer-facing product logo identifying Hi-Res Audio devices
  • The Recording Academy® Wireimage.com ©2017 Kim White
    Miles Rogers, EXP Development Manager of Meyer Sound Laboratories, Inc. gives an overview of the day's listening tools and a demo of the Constellation System in the Theatre.
  • The Recording Academy® Wireimage.com ©2017 Kim White
    Marc Finer of the Digital Entertainment Group speaks about consumers embracing hi-res audio as a new concept and as purchasers of new devices.
  • The Recording Academy® Wireimage.com ©2017 Kim White
    Daniel Levitin explains why the brain has difficulty differentiating between file types or preference.
  • The Recording Academy® Wireimage.com ©2017 Kim White
    Rhonda Wilson of Dolby Labs shared the mathematical science behind hi-res.
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    The "Why Hi-Res?" panel discussion
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    Rapt audience in Meyer's Pearson Theatre
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    Host Leslie Ann Jones
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    Host Michael Romanowski. We have a version of this photo with him holding a crystal ball. Can he tell us the future of audio?
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    Headphone listening station tended to by GU student Josh Cobbett. Thanks Josh!
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    Headphone listening stations equipped with affordable consumer-level listening playback devices in the Meyer "Commissary."
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    Headphone listening on laptop playback
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    Studio listening in Meyer's Bear's Lab studio through their Bluehorn speaker system.
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    Producers & Engineers Wing Managing Director Maureen Droney
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    Rock engineer Nick Raskulinecz
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    Panelists Michael Romanowski, Cookie Marenco, Michael Denten, Nick Raskulinecz and moderator Leslie Ann Jones in the Hi-Res Workflow and Distribution discussion.
  • The Recording Academy® Wireimage.com ©2017 Kim White
    All of the days' presenters with a special guest appearance by Meyer Sound's founder John Meyer.

On Saturday, May 13, 2017, San Francisco Chapter P&E Wing members attended a special event for engineer/producers on High Resolution Audio. Hosted by four-time GRAMMY-winning engineer Leslie Ann Jones and GRAMMY nominee and SF Chapter Trustee Michael Romanowski, the Studio Summit addressed the growing interest in releasing best-sounding recordings, addressing perspectives of the consumer marketplace and the production workflow requirements to make "Hi-Res Audio" a reality. The session was hosted at Meyer Sound Laboratories in Berkeley, CA, in the Pearson Theatre and Bear’s Lab recording studio spaces.

After a brief welcome from the Chapter and hosts, Miles Rogers of Meyer Sound introduced the venue and the day’s listening tools to attendees with a brief demonstration of the Meyer Constellation System in the Pearson Theatre.

Marc Finer of the Digital Entertainment Group led the opening keynote and shared developments taking place in the consumer marketplace to engage listeners of music to embrace Hi-Res Audio. Manufacturers of "HRA" products are adopting the gold/black Hi-Res Audio logo on their products that feature improved listening and playback technology. Part of the challenge ahead is to educate consumers on the value of sound quality and interest them on becoming supporters of the movement by way of understanding, purchasing, and sharing high resolution music. 

The first panel discussion, “Why Hi Res Audio?” was led by moderator Michael Romanowski with best-selling author, producer, and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, Rhonda Wilson of Dolby Labs, Leslie Ann Jones, and Marc Finer. Daniel Levitin opened the discussion with a look at how sound affects the brain, and how the brain is challenged to determine differences in different quality recordings of the same piece of music – different parts of the brain determine preference for an audio type and the ability to distinguish the difference in audio type. Rhonda Wilson of Dolby gave a scientific and mathematical review of the differences in high resolution and other audio file types with a glimpse behind the “digital” curtain, with a final distinction of how much space there is to accommodate this “improvement” in audio and listening with high resolution audio. Leslie Ann Jones addressed the evolution of recording formats and what’s to come. Continued discussion with the full panel addressed preparation for future technologies both for the creators of quality audio and the consumers of it.

Between sessions, attendees visited with event sponsor Massdrop, an online retailer with exclusive prototypes of custom made high-fidelity audio gear including DACs, headphones, and headphone amps from the world’s leading high-end manufacturers.

After a lunch break, Maureen Droney, Managing Director of The Recording Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing, discussed the P&E Wing’s newly published Recommendations for Hi-Resolution Music Production (download it here) and the contributing team behind it (including Studio Summit presenters Leslie Ann Jones and Marc Finer/The Digital Entertainment Group). “Recent research … has shown that consumers are interested in better quality audio and that many are willing to pay for it. The sound of digital audio has improved vastly from its early days. It is now possible for consumers to hear studio quality music—recorded music with sound quality equal to what the artists, producers, mix engineers, and mastering engineers worked to achieve. Providing the listener with the best audio quality gives them the best possible experience, which results in more engaged consumers, increased satisfaction in the creative community, and an improved financial environment for all who are involved in creating, recording, producing, and promoting music.”  We encourage readers of this article to please download and review this Recommendation for more detail.

A second panel on Hi-Res Workflow and Distribution was moderated by Leslie Ann Jones and discussed production workflow (realities and possibilities), label distribution, archiving and preservation, and statistics on hi-res downloads and monetization of the format. The panel consisted of Bay Area hip-hop and Latin engineer and owner of Infinite Studios Michael Denten, founder of Blue Coast Music Cookie Marenco, multi GRAMMY-winning and nominated rock engineer Nick Raskulinecz, and Michael Romanowski shared audio clips and personal experiences in the studio in recording and releasing in high resolution formats. Attendees had the opportunity to hear a segment of Nick’s 59th GRAMMY nominated track for Best Metal Performance, “Rotting In Vain” by Korn, a selection of Michael Denten’s track, the “Golden State Warriors’ 2015” theme song with E-40, a Classical selection mixed and mastered by Leslie Ann Jones and Michael Romanowski respectively, “Beethoven 9th Symphony, Mvt1” performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Litton, and an acoustic piece mixed by Cookie Marenco, Fiona Joy’s “A Walk In The Park.”

Next up attendees broke out to listen to these selections in different formats… one group visited Meyer Sound’s Bear’s Lab studio environment for listening through Meyer’s Bluehorn system while the other plugged into headphones and consumer-available hi-res audio players to listen back to the tracks. Note: For this segment of listening, Michael Denten provided a reggae track, “Fire On The Horizon,” by Stick Figure.

Once everyone compared and contrasted the varying listening formats, the entire group returned to Pearson Theatre to discuss the day’s program content and listening experiences. It was a fantastic day of learning and introduction to new recording concepts.

Nick Raskulinecz closed the session with a reminder to all that no matter the resolution, it takes a great song to make a great recording - which can only be improved upon by mixing with with the best possible audio quality available. 

HEAR FOR YOURSELF: AUDIO COMPARISON – DOWNLOAD HERE
Our friends Jeremy Cohen and Quartet San Francisco have offered a demonstration of low and high-resolution audio clips of their composition entitled “Tango Toscana.” This download includes five file formats, from 44/16.m4a to 96/24.wav. See if you can hear the difference – try listening via headphones, and then with studio monitors. Consider which formats are more pleasing to you, and where you see the value in high-resolution recordings both as an engineer and as a consumer. 

The Recording Academy San Francisco Chapter would like to extend gracious thanks to our venue hosts at Meyer Sound for their generous hospitality and exceptional listening and presentation environment, to event sponsor Massdrop, and to the Digital Entertainment Group for provision of the hi-res audio players used in the headphone listening station. 

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