CES 2005: Ray Kimber, the owner of Kimber Kable and more recently IsoMike fame brought his first 4 Channel SACD IsoMike disc to the High End Audio Exhibits at the Alexis Park Resort during CES this year. High Fidelity Review readers will recall that Kimber first demonstrated his IsoMike recordings to wide acclaim for their vivid realism and sonics two years ago during the Consumer Electronics Show and the Home Entertainment Show.
The IsoMike is a heart shaped baffle made of a precisely designed and milled fiberglass material. The IsoMike baffles are hung from the ceiling at the live performance and are said to make the microphones used in the recording process more sensitive and this enables them to record more sonic detail according to Ray Kimber. Kimber has used this system in conjunction with high quality recording equipment, including DSD recorders from Genex and Teac’s Tascam Group and DSD converters from Ed Meitner’s EMM Labs to produce a series of test recordings that have been played at recent CES and HE shows since the system’s debut in 2003.
Last September, a recording of a gospel group named T Minus 5 made with the IsoMike system was released as a Single Inventory Hybrid Stereo SACD. It received praise from music fans and critics alike for its realism and sonic quality (see linked story below).
The 2005 IsoMike 4 Channel Test SACD
The next step in the evolution of Kimber’s IsoMike recordings was to move to 4 Channel recordings. Kimber and his IsoMike recording engineers have recorded several musicians at Kimber’s Alma Mater – Weber State University – and the result of this work appeared at CES in the form of the 2005 ISoMike 4 Channel SACD. Attendees at CES could pick up a copy of the SACD after hearing a demonstration of several selections from the disc and making a $10 or higher donation to Weber State University.
As with Kimber’s prior IsoMike recordings, the selections on the 4 Channel SACD were recorded with top flight gear. Included in the recording chain were Neumann M150 microphones, Millennia Media HV-3D Custom Microphone Amps, EMM Labs Meitner ADC8 Mk IV and DAC8 Mk IV 4th Generation DSD Converters, Genex GX-9000 and Tascam DS-D98HR DSD hard disc recorders, Lipinski Sound L707 and Magnepan 20.1 monitor speakers, Bryston 7BSST and Gryphon Antileon monitor amps, Sennheiser HD 650 headphones and of course, Kimber Kable interconnects.
To demonstrate the new test SACD, a very high end playback system was assembled. It included Pass X600 amps, the EMM Labs CDSD SACD Transport, the EMM Labs DAC8 Mk IV DSD Converter and the top of the line TAD Speakers which sell for around $25,000 each. Quite a little playback setup!
Brett Terry from the IsoMike engineering team played show attendees several selections from the Test SACD. During the demo I listened to, we heard track 4 (a brief Choral selection), track 37 (an Orchestral selection), track 26 (a Beethoven composition performed by pianist Robert Silverman) and track 23 (a Beethoven String Quartet composition performed by the Fry Street Quartet). All of the recordings featured the use of surround channels for capturing the ambience of the hall where the recording was made and featured very detailed sonics. We were told that no compression was used on the recording which explains the warning text on the front of the SACD which says “Caution – Big Dynamics”.
More 4 Channel SACDs on the Way
Classical Music fans who are interested in the music by the Fry Street Quartet on the 2005 IsoMike Test SACD can now buy a 2 Disc Surround Sound SACD release from the quartet (Fry Street Quartet FSQC 03). It features works including Rorem’s String Quartet No. 4, Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 132, Sceare’s String Quartet No. 1 “Y2K” and Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for String Quartet. To purchase this new 4 Channel SACD, you can visit the Fry Street Quartet.com web site and enter a Pay Pal or Credit Card payment.
Next up will be the release of the recording of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and C Minor Variations by pianist Robert Silverman. This IsoMike recording is slated for release during 2005 by Stereophile – first on Stereo CD and then later as a 4 Channel Hybrid SACD disc.
Have A Listen
If you’re curious about the results of these IsoMike recording sessions, I’d encourage you to check out the 2005 IsoMike 4 Channel Test SACD or the recently released Fry Street Quartet SACD Set. The music on these releases is very well recording and the combination of the IsoMike, a very high quality recording chain and the absence of compression makes the results seem quite real when played back with a good SACD setup. Ray Kimber is definitely advancing the state of the recording art with this series of releases.