AES 117: ATC & Super Audio Center Preview Elton John & Eric Clapton Surround Sound SACDs

AES 117: ATC Loudspeaker Technology and the new Super Audio Center are teaming up this weekend to preview the upcoming Elton John and Eric Clapton Surround Sound Super Audio CDs due out on November 9th to attendees at the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Conference. As noted earlier, the conference started this Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

ATC is a loudspeaker firm based in the U.K. that makes speakers that are widely used in recording and mastering studios. According to officials at ATC, their setup this weekend at the 117th AES Convention features 5 full range ATC SCM150 ASL Pro active speakers which have separate transducers and amps for the low end, mid range and tweeters in each speaker as well as 2 ATC SCM0.1/15 active subwoofers in front which include 600 watt per channel amps.

Complimenting the ATC speakers is a playback chain from Ed Meitner’s EMM Labs in Canada which includes a Switchman III preamp/switcher, the company’s new CDSD SACD/DSD transport and the DAC6e 6 Channel DSD Converter. ATC noted that a similar setup is used by James Guthrie in his Surround Sound Recording and Mastering Studio in Lake Tahoe and a similar mastering studio setup recently installed by Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab.

Continuous Demos of Surround Sound SACD Music
During this weekend’s conference, AES show attendees will find the ATC & Super Audio Center sponsored demonstrations of Surround Sound SACD discs in Demo Room #224 in the center’s mezzanine level. The music demonstrations run continuously, so what is playing at the time will depend on when you arrive.

While I was listening to the music in the SACD music demo room, a number of people involved with SACD production and discs dropped by to listen and to bring in SACDs to audition on the ATC/EMM Labs set up. Some of the people who “dropped in” during that time included Gus Skinas, Director of the Super Audio Center, David Kawakami, Director of the Super Audio Project for Sony America, Ed Meitner from EMM Labs, Shawn Britton, Chief Recording Engineer for Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and Herbert Waltl, producer of the Concord Records SACD Remaster Series and President of Media Hyperium Studios in Los Angeles.

Listening to Some Upcoming SACD Releases
At the SACD music demo, I found a familiar face – Dr. Andrew Demery from the Super Audio Center staff – at the controls spinning some newly released and about to be released Surround Sound SACDs.

Many of the people in attendance came to hear music from the next 6 Super Audio CDs by Elton John due out on November 9th. Dr. Demery had test pressings of all 6 discs and played several of the tracks including Love Song, Honky Cat, They Call Her The Cat, Philadelphia Freedom and both the original and alternate version of Madman Across The Water.

As with the previews of the Elton John Surround Sound mixes at the Surround 2004 show, these editions also featured extensive use of both the front and surround channels – with the singer’s vocals often appearing solo in the Center channel and on one cut in the Right Front channel. According to Demery, all 5 of the catalog SACDs producer and engineer Greg Penny have mixed into 5.1 Surround Sound feature this approach to Surround Sound.

We also were treated to some selections from the upcoming Eric Clapton Surround Sound SACDs which are also due out on November 9th. The tracks here included Talking On The Phone, I Shot The Sheriff and Cocaine.

Rounding out the pop and rock SACD Surround Sound demos were cuts by Pink Floyd, David Elias, Diana Krall and a selection from an upcoming Surround Sound SACD release on 6 Degrees Records by Willie Porter.

Moving in to the Classical Music arena, several selections were played from the upcoming Surround Sound SACD from Sonoma Records entitled Music for Organ, Brass and Timpani on Sonoma Records. As I noted earlier this week, the SACD which features Anthony Newman on the the Grand N.P. Mander Organ at St. Ignatius Loyola Church was the first album created with the new Sonoma 24 Track DSD Workstation. The SACD features very nice sonics on the tracks featuring Newman and it also has a nice room filling ambience to it. The album is slated for release through the Acoustic Sounds web site in November.

SACD Surround Sound Demo Room Playlist
Here’s a list of the tunes I heard in SACD Surround Sound while I was visiting there:

  • Anthony Newman & the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble – Rachmaninov: The Theotokos from Music for Organ, Brass and Timpani (Sonoma Records)
  • Anthony Newman & the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble – Strauss: Feielicher Einzug der Ritter des Johanniter-Ordens from Music for Organ, Brass and Timpani (Sonoma Records)
  • Pink Floyd – Time from The Dark Side of the Moon: 30th Anniversary Edition (Capitol Records)
  • Elton John – Love Song from Tumbleweed Connection (Universal/Rocket Records)
  • Elton John – Honky Cat from Honky Chateau (Universal/Rocket Records)
  • Eric Clapton – I Can’t Hold Out from 461 Ocean Boulevard (Polydor)
  • David Elias – The Window from The Window (Sketti Sandwich)
  • Elton John – They Call Her The Cat from Peachtree Road (Universal/Rocket Records)
  • Elton John – Philadelphia Freedom from Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy (Universal/Rocket Records)
  • Diana Krall – I’m Coming Through from The Girl In The Other Room (Verve)
  • Willie Porter – Unconditional from High Wire Live (6 Degrees Records)
  • Bach: Goldberg Variations – Unreleased Surround Sound SACD recorded by Herb Waltl
  • Elton John – Madman Across The Water from Madman Across The Water (Universal/Rocket Records)
  • Elton John – Madman Across The Water (Original Version) from Tumbleweed Connection (Universal/Rocket Records)
  • Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength from 461 Ocean Boulevard (Polydor)
  • Eric Clapton – I Shot The Sheriff from 461 Ocean Boulevard (Polydor)
  • Eric Clapton – Cocaine from Slowhand (Polydor)

If you are attending the Audio Engineering Society Convention in San Francisco, or you’re just interested in a sneak preview of the Elton John and Eric Clapton Surround Sound SACDs, I’d certainly recommend stopping by Demo Room #224 this weekend for a listen.