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Music pros gear up for quality sound

Meta unveiled Saturday at CES convention

Concerned about the quality of music playback systems, eight prominent music engineers and producers have formed an org to evaluate and certify gear as well as educate professionals and enthusiasts about music technology.

Meta, the Music Engineering and Technology Alliance, will be unveiled Saturday at the CES convention in Las Vegas. Former DTS executive and producer Rory S. Kaplan has been named president and George Massenburg is chief technology officer and standards committee chair. Other members of the org are Phil Ramone, Elliot Scheiner, Frank Filipetti, Al Schmitt, Ed Cherney and Chuck Ainlay.

Meta intends to advise and make technical recommendations to equipment manufacturers; facilitate research and development; partner with other sound and technical orgs; and educate music pros, technology providers and consumers about optimal music recording and delivery.

“The audience hasn’t been treated well,” said producer Phil Ramone. “Everyone understands terminology like HD, but a bunch of boxes doesn’t mean you have surround sound. Not enough people have been exposed to great sound quality.”

Kaplan said the org will bridge the existing gap between technology providers and the experts who use and apply it. “In this way, we plan to improve and heighten the capabilities to deliver to consumers what artists are actually producing in the studio,” he said.

Ramone cites public acceptance of inferior sound products such as pre-recorded cassettes and MP3s.

Realizing that consumers are increasingly using computers, hand-held devices and home theater systems as their music playback systems, Meta wants manufacturers to be mindful of how these systems play music. He likens it to returning to the day when living room hi-fis were objects of pride.

Schmitt is intrigued that car manufacturers are improving the quality of their sound systems and upgrading to surround, while home audio lags behind. “Audio is a tougher sell than video. People see a picture difference, but audio is more subtle. There has been a need for this type of effort for a long time,” he said.

“The highest quality audio to have ever been produced for mass consumption is currently available to all lovers of music, and yet most channels of current delivery fall well short of what’s possible,” said multiple Grammy winner Filipetti. “We intend to change that.”

Noted Ramone: “So many people spend so much time to make a great record that it’s time we work with manufacturers so people at home are hearing what we hear in the studio.”

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