CRUISING THE AES CONVENTION
WITH THE HOT ONE
It was a beautiful day in September, and as we approached Javits center we could see that there was a crowd at the entrance milling around a van with big speakers, with a banner waving....THE ANALOG REBELS, and as we shoved through the crowd to see what all the excitement was about I was handed a long white envelop that had stamped on it..DIGITAL EAR SICKNESS BAG...and it looked just like the airsickness bags on airplanes except it had a piece of string attached to the opening. Then I noticed that the people wearing "Analog Rebel" T-shirts had Digital Ear Sickness Bags hanging from their ears...and I looked at the Devil and he was pissed with a capital P.
He grabbed my arm and yanked me out of the crowd and to the entrance of the Javits centers. As we were entering the door, I heard a loud screech of tires, turned around and watched in horror as a sixteen wheel hemi slid out of control into the Analog Rebels van...with mangled bodies and body parts flying everywhere...and I turned to "The Man Who Feels No Remorse", and he shrugged his shoulders, and said...."Hey.......Shit Happens".
Before I begin describing our experience at the AES Convention let me tell you how thrilling it is to experience the convergences of Americas best entrepreneurial energy with the pro music industry. The capitalist system always delivers exactly what the music industry wants...and there was intense digital creativity everywhere, and The Digital Devil was thrilled.
Do you know the thrill of hanging out with a real celebrity? Everyone at the AES was flocking for his autograph, and his charming manner, warm smile and self confidence, his ease at signing autographs was thrilling to all who approached him....yet, in spite of all the adulation, "The Man Who Controls the Music Business", started to become very upset. We started to hear disrespectful muttering..."digital audio sucks".
Soon we had to walk off into a corner so he could hug me and cry on my shoulder. The Devil was very hurt, and he had a right to be. With red bleary eyes He wanted to know...."Why are so many people...saying...digital audio sucks...when it is so perfect. I dont understand...I keep my side of the bargain....digital music is the music business dream come true....I dont get it....?"
What would you do if one of your best friends was in pain? You would want them to feel better..right? So I took the Digital Devil by the hand, put in my ear plugs, and we started to walk the aisles.....looking for healing.
I knew exactly what would cheer up the Devil. I wanted him to hear the new "Beyond Digital Ready" self-powered studio monitors that are so popular with record producers. This is another clear case of the kind of engineering synergy we find in the pro audio arts...of one plus one equals ten...take really bad sounding speakers and couple them with the worst sounding transistor amplifiers and you get something so awful that its taxes our imaginative capacity....an impressive display.
When these companies demonstrated how their speakers not only play loud but can shatter glass... this was a big morale boost for the Digital Devil...and explains why I wear safety glasses to these AES trade shows. These speakers are being gobbled up the growing group of geriatric rock and rollers (over 98) who have lost most of their hearing....like most record producers.
As you know the frontier of digital audio is the software, with programs expanding everyones undeveloped or non-existent music ability. We watched as a six years boy old, dressed to look like a micro-Keith Richards, was brought out with his Hasbro plastic guitar. He played a few bars of "Mary Had a Little Lamb...and She Was Bad", and then the demonstrator did his sales pitch, and then touched the "Keith Richards" button on the computer screen...and those few bars were transformed into a "digitally real" Keith Richards medley of "Sympathy for The Devil"...and the demonstrator said...."With our new programs there is no reason why first graders cant be MTV rock and roll stars"...and the Devil was jumping for joy.
THE DIGITAL DC VISE: The Mans face shone with joy at this demo. This was an extremely popular software program. If every other technique that you used to get rid of the natural dynamics of music failed, this software will compress your audio tracks to DC. Anyone who has the technical skill to turn an AC signal into pure DC deserves an award. The reason I think this company will make a fortune is because it is the perfect way to get optimal loudness from the typical consumer loudspeakers that have no dynamic range.
THE SONIC SINK SOLUTION: A beautiful babe demonstrator, in a mini skirt, was standing in front of a kitchen sink making some coffee, doing the dishes, and right next to the sink was a small computer screen, and she gave her pitch..."The Sonic Sink Solution" ...and as she bent over to open the doors under the sink we could see that her undies were printed like sheet music...and she pointed to "The World First State of the Art Digital Recording Studio Under Your Kitchen Sink"....designed for retirees who live in mobile homes, or rock and roll groups on the road... and the Digital Devil started to applaud.....as he heard Lawrence Welk synthesized rap music come up from the drain.
THE PARADOX OF CLARITY: I could spend ten pages describing how happy the Digital Devil is about the new "better" digital formats, but will instead just summarize why he is confident that it will lower the quality of 99.999999% of the music we hear in our home, and that is why he is so excited about them...and has created so much confusion around them.
Here goes: The reason digital music sounds so digital is not because of the technological limitations of digital audio formats, but because of ...the gray matter between the ears of record producers, engineers and the recording artists. A "better format" will reveal all the flaws of the recording chain, make more audible the "grunge" that is in pro audio gear, and will make more apparent record producers and engineers lack of talent. As the Devil says...this like saying "Johnny cant handle third grade courses, so lets graduate him to the sixth grade, so he can make a bigger fool of himself".
If I had the space I could write hundreds of pages revealing how excited the Digital Devil is about the accelerated decline of music quality, but I am too busy. As we were leaving the AES convention, and to show his thanks for being such a good friend and helpful guide, "Mr. Not Cool" handed me a big brown envelop, and said...."Gizmo...here is a bone that will make you the next Internet billionaire with MP-3 music".
You can all read about DIGI-SMELL and SMELLORAMA on my new web site, and get in on the ground floor of my upcoming IPO....and share the wealth.