AnalogPlanet Visits the Hi-Res Pavilion at C.E.S. 2017

The Digital Entertainment Group brought high quality sound in the form of high resolution digital audio to the gadgeteers at the main convention center.

Of course, tech guys like David Pogue feel threatened, having declared CDs "perfect" so here was a chance for people to hear it for themselves on high performance headphones through hi-end DACs and witness live interviews conducted by Sound&Vision's Mike Mettler with some of the recording industry's brightest players.

I mention Pogue because he wrote a disparaging story in which he called hi-res audio "The Emperor's New Clothes" based on a faux "scientific" experiment he ran at a mall. It really pissed me off and let him have it. He said my email indicated "bad breeding". I told him his story indicated far worse.

StonedBeatles1's picture

As I said.
Don't want to get thrown off from here :)

Wimbo's picture

from that clip whether your pro Hi Rez or anti Hi Rez Michael.
You seemed to be "Having a go" at it.

Jim Tavegia's picture

If fast food is good enough for them then let them miss out. The fact that the media still puts out lies and BS is not surprising. Even the NY Times said they were going to work to be more truthful. Really? I'm waiting. If that doesn't tell you much about their past nothing does.

SS's picture

I was wrong about coming here. The usual frAudiophile GOB mentality coupled with their take on Social Just-Us Warriors.

For such as that, it is fine and dandy to belittle the disbelief of others whilst engorging their own fragile egos. None seem interested in just enjoying music but fixate instead on "critical" listening.

How about both sides, i.e., the subjective and objective, agree to disagree in an agreeable fashion? Too much to ask of adults?

The subjective don't care for being asked to prove the
difference(s) they claim to be able to discern/hear and labeled frAudiophiles for doing so and the objective loathe being referred to as being deaf idiots and Audiophile Philistines.

I am about to purchase another new turntable but not because I feeeeeeel that vinyl sounds better. I just like the tactile joy of records. The beauty of a classically designed and well made turntable is a joy unto itself. I don't listen to vinyl every day, but when I do, I just enjoy myself. I don't obsess over any facet of the process. I turn my stuff on, put a record on the 'table and sit down and listen. With my eyes open. With my eyes closed. With my ears. I am not open to hearing what is not there for me.

I will never, ever, be an audiophile. If my words get me banned from this place, I don't mind. I will just write in and cancel my subscription to the magazine explaining why and then write the advertisers whose products I admire, own or desire to own.

I may just be a drop in the audio bucket but if enough people are alienated from this hobby (unless you are in the business, it is just a hobby, people) then the evaporation of enough drops will make a difference.

Herr Fremer, if after this wee missive you decided to exclude me from commenting here, please have the stones to alert me via email. An email was required to register and one would suppose you have admin rights to access it.



Wimbo's picture

I watched the marketing destruction of Vinyl over the last three and a half decades and it didn't work out for them.
I feel this website is for anyone into recorded music and the playback of it, especially Vinyl.Everyone has their favourites and that's because we are all individuals.They're s a place for you here mate. Michael's a good bloke and not a Nazi.
I feel your last paragraph was unnecessary.

cgh's picture


Wimbo's picture

If your bored, do something about your life.
It's short.

Michael Fremer's picture
To comment away in a non-abusive tone. However, I think you vow to never become an audiophile because you have a jaundiced POV about who is and is not an audiophile and what the term really means.
SS's picture

Your video on Pro-Ject's 2017 CES products was what encouraged me to join here, go read my comment if you wish.

The attitude on display here with references to "Nazi" is what has made me cancel my subscription and after this comment, no longer participate. Herr Lictenegger is a good man and just because I referred to you as "Herr Fremer" dose not mean I equate you with a "Nutzi". "Social JustUs Warriors" make me puke.

I am of what my family calls, "Cashew" descent, i.e., Catholic-Jew and yes the Jewish side is from my mother and so yes, I am allowed to claim that part as birthright. My screen name is derived from my initials which are far from sinister. The faux outcry from what is essentially nothing but a bunch of ancient caucasion males doing their best to suck up but sans any reason reason other than to salve their egos and make brownie points. White Knighting does not become anyone.

If my view is, as you claim, "jaundiced" it is with good reason. The stereotype of audiophiles is, as are the majority of societal patterns, based in fact.

As you said in the video I spoke of, this is a hobby. Some of the people that cried foul craven here need to get off their hobbyhorse.

I cancelled for a good reason and told the subscription department exactly why. Do as you will or be an adult.


Michael Fremer's picture
I am puzzled by your comments. I don't understand them.
rockchef's picture

Like the above poster i am no Audiophile but certainly love my vinyl. Have done for over forty years and will always shout to the rafters about the joys of listening to a great all analogue pressing. Now i feel that there is a place for all types of music formats and we need to just get back to what is really important the music and enjoying it whatever your preference of format is.

Rudy's picture

I don't feel anyone needs to be strictly analog-only or digital-only. I have many high-res albums, including both PCM and DSD. And a lot at standard CD resolution. I clearly hear (and feel) the advantages of hi-res over CD. I also hear the advantages of vinyl--at its best, little on this planet can match it. Is there any reason I am not allowed to enjoy both, without having to be pigeonholed by Internet pundits who feel I can only be on one side or the other? I have a lot of music. Much of it is unobtainium on vinyl, either due to never being released on vinyl, or being outrageously expensive due to rarity. Why should I deny myself the music because it is digital? And if I can get it in a higher-resolution format with good mastering, why should I deny myself that opportunity?

Audiophilia just happens to be one of those areas where both sides (to any topic) cannot play well in the sandbox together, sadly enough. And all the griping on either side never answers the question: "What about the music?" That is my main interest. I've put a lot into my system on both sides of the fence so I can simply enjoy the music. That is how it should be, at the end of the day. :)

elliotdrum's picture

I learned a ton from reading Nat Hentoffs record reviews and
articles in several jazz magazines through the years.
He was a major writer and jazz history teacher. His book Jazz Is
is still vital reading for Jazz lovers-
Another great one is gone.....RIP

my new username's picture

... didn't sit well with the readers here who don't know our host's preference for best available sound. They also forget it's the reason for Stereophile's existence. Not sure where they came from, then.

And so they mistakenly interpreted it as anti-digital or even anti-music (somehow.)

Being excited (let alone, contrite) when presented with a "new" public display attempting to demonstrate better sound wouldn't, and shouldn't, be Michael's strength. He's fought that battle for far longer. Read coverage from other writers. There's a sense of, "well, duh" about it.

The magazine's been covering hi res for eons but C.E.S. hasn't made a splash in this way because hardware makers curiously lacked support from software suppliers who know better how to cut their own foot off than to make money selling music.

The record labels, despite selling hi res downloads for several years, treated it as an afterthought to "weirdos dumb enough to spend $18" when the CD was available for half, or less.

Today they are finally (publicly, and by that I mean with some publicity) admitting the error. They got themselves a Hi Res logo too, to show they are Serious.

"We are the only industry that has spent 30 years downgrading the sound quality of its product" — Craig Kallman, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Records

Folks, that's this year's mea culpa headline. Let that sink in, the next time you bristle at being told that maybe, better sound is out there. Don't shoot the messenger.

SS's picture

Okay, thanks gang!

I will just stay out of it. Oh yeah, the entire "Nazi" remark was offensive to me for religious reasons.


OldschoolE's picture

I've heard Hi-Rez on proper good gear and even expensive gear compared to well done CD and I can't really tell the difference straight away, but that's just me. I think that is because at those times I was trying to compare very well done recordings. We all hear differently in a sense. We are all sensitive to certain frequencies and vibrations. (Some folks can't handle certain types of speakers, some can't handle certain instruments, etc, for example).
That said, I think it also really depends on the recording. I've heard plenty of bad CDs, (I've even heard bad vinyl and not just pressings) and I would venture to guess that if they were well re-mastered into Hi-Rez where possible, they would sound much better. I have non-Hi-Rez remastered CDs that sound far better than the original releases, so the logical leap can be made. I mean if you took a sub-par recording and tried to make it Hi-Rez it would still sound sub-par and maybe worse. We must remember provenance.

Am I saying Hi-Rez is bad or a joke? Certainly not! It beats MP3 and FM broadcasts hands down. I too took on Mr. Pogue and his tilted experiment just focused on the facts and that was before I heard a Hi-Rez file on proper gear!
I think part of the issue some folks are having is the gear. Folks are hearing from some people that they must buy very expensive gear to enjoy Hi-Rez files and that is being translated into "must by uber gear to enjoy music period" or "what you have is no good, so you don't deserve to listen to music" or etc. Yes, there are people who will tell you that with a straight face, but ignore them. They may think they are always right, but they are not. The only inferred part, which is true is that you do have to have the correct gear to play back the Hi-Rez file to take full advantage of it just as anything else. That does not need to be expensive though. All you need is decent gear downstream (in other words gear you are happy with) and a decoder or converter that can handle Hi-Rez files. For right now, unfortunately, it seems mostly restricted to personal audio (players, headphones, etc). However, in future I think we may see more affordable decoders available for home systems. We have them now, but yes, they are mostly prohibitively expensive, but that can't last.

It's like with most things, when the market becomes saturated, prices fall. Look at CDs, when they came out they were $10 to $30 and the cheapest players were four figures, now you can get nearly any CD you want for $1 and a player for $100 or less (Of course, as with other things you have to spend a bit more to get something good with staying power, but it doesn't have to be uber expensive again). A good part of that is due to folks discovering better sound quality (mainly with vinyl) and ditching their CDs. The difference between CDs and vinyl though is that in my opinion vinyl has always had better sound quality (assuming good recordings) than CD and thus has returned with vengeance. The CD will not necessarily be returning. That's not to say everyone will stop buying them and such and those of us who have a few that we consider good or not available on vinyl will not listen to them. It just says their popularity will not be returning.

I too am not an audiophile, that is I do not consider myself to be one. I know audiophiles who do not listen to music, they listen to gear. I'm a music lover, first, last and always. If a recording sounds good on vinyl, CD or Hi-Rez, that's where its at. Music and the enjoyment of it is what matters, period. Those that push that one must have uber gear or be spendy just don't want others to enjoy music, likely because they don't themselves. Like religion or politics, they just want to be in an elite club that focuses on stoic ideals and who has the better hair shirt rather than enjoy anything for what it is.
I don't know this person, but agree with rockchef all the way. The music is what matters. If what you are hearing it on makes your toes tap, then you have it. Sit back and enjoy the journey.

The nay-sayers (which includes the press) will go after anything. Look how they still keep going after vinyl. These are people who just don't want to let others enjoy themselves or what they have. Well, to hell with those people! Let them live in their misery. The rest of us can continue to enjoy without their permission.

The crack about Nazis or Michael being one is highly uncalled for! Michael is truly fair and ethical. He is not one of those who tell you that you must spend $xxxxx to enjoy music. I've seen him recommend $40 carts and $200 turntables as well as $100k speakers and $40k amps. In fact, he is one of the very rare few reporters that is truly fair and balanced and covers all ground in that respect. In fact, he will help those who ask him questions about how much they have to spend on gear and even records. Michael himself shops the used record bargain bins as well folks! Just think about that for a minute. We need more of that, not less.
Save the Nazi comments for where they may truly apply, not in audio!

Corsair's picture

HiRes can sound excellent. Vinyl can sound even better.

cdlp4578's picture

Unfortunately the "Hi Fi Business" has always been one of chasing technology and the technology business has always been one of selling upgrades.

Every individual eventually stops chasing it all and settles on what they like most. I do IT for a living and the tech chasing in that biz is more than I can stand, I don't want to chase it in my hobby. I've upgraded my audio gear as I've been able to afford to, but it's been at a leisurely pace. Meanwhile, I'm on my 5th or 6th different back up medium of all my digital life's files out of necessity due to obsolescence.

As I've upgraded my audio gear, only DSD has been a satisfying digital audio format to me, and it isn't worth it to me to chase it. If I were 24 years old today, I might go that route and the hi-rez downloads would make sense. But knowing the pace of obsolescence in the digital world, maybe I'd still choose the path where you upgrade your hardware at your leisure and your software still works decades later without having to be managed or converted.

The bottom line for me is that I know my LP's will work 40 years from now without much trouble, but my stream box probably will have to be replaced 5 or 6 times to keep up with technology. The LP has survived its darkest hour, but CD-ROM, DVD, and others will not survive theirs.

BennettFunk's picture

This is a short but passionate piece advocating for high-resolution audio. It would be interesting to see more details about the technology itself and the arguments for suika game superiority over traditional audio formats.

michaelarrington's picture

Pogue's characterization of hi-res audio as "The Emperor's New Clothes" likely struck a nerve with Fremer, Tunnel Rush especially considering his dedication to promoting high-quality audio through AnalogPlanet.

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