CES 2008: FIM Continues Audio Innovation with SACD, K2 HD and HRx Discs and Demos

CES 2008: First Impression Music (FIM) will highlight several different music formats during the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The 2008 edition of CES starts tonight with some pre-show press events that will be followed by an all-day «Press Day» event on Sunday and then exhibits that start on Monday.

FIM and its owner Winston Ma have been known for years as innovators in the high end audio arena. As a result of always pushing the boundaries in high end audio, the company is often among the first with new audio innovations and formats. That theme will be evident at CES this year as FIM highlights three different ways of moving Stereo two channel audio ahead. FIM will be showing their catalog of Stereo and Surround Sound Super Audio CD (SACD) discs including their latest release — Sway by singer Michael Gold. Also on display will be the label’s initial releases in JVC’s «K2 HD» enhancement of Redbook CDs.

Finally, FIM will be previewing the new «HRx» format of high resolution Stereo WAV files developed by Reference Recordings.

Sway! — Michael Gold Sings Beloved Hits for You
Michael Gold
Super Audio CD Stereo/CD Audio with HDCD Processing

(FIM SACD 075)

Sway! features singer Michael Gold from Singapore performing 14 well known favorites. Over the years these songs have been recorded by artists including Elvis Presley and Dean Martin according to FIM.

FIM’s Winston Ma says

«This is an exquisite collection of simple songs expressing profound universal truths. They are songs to inspire and uplift, to comfort and bring joy, sung all over the world by superstars and ordinary people alike. For those who were teenagers in the 50′s, this collection will bring about happy memories. For those who are experiencing them for the first time, these songs will further inspire their love for music and for the artists performing them.

Believe it or not, FIM used more time in perfecting the sound of this particular recording than any other recording in the FIM catalog. They had to make sure that they captured the spirit and soul of Michael’s very nuanced and distinct musical expression. Meticulous care has been taken by Paul Stubblebine, the famed mastering engineer, to process the analog musical content into the DSD digital domain for SACD production, attaining the best of both worlds. As a unique feature of all FIM SACD productions, the Red Book CD layer is processed with HDCD technology to ensure its absolute musical integrity.»


Sway! was produced by Winston Ma at Lion’s Studio in Singapore. The album was recorded and mixed by Eddy Seet. The mastering was done by Paul Stubblebine at Paul Stubblebine Mastering in San Francisco, CA. The Hybrid Stereo SACD was made by Sony DADC at their plant in Austria.

Album Tracks

  1. Sway
  2. Too Young
  3. Memories Are Made Of This
  4. South Of The Border
  5. Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On
  6. Kiss
  7. Can’t Help Falling In Love With You
  8. When A Child Is Born
  9. You Belong To Me
  10. For Sentimental Reasons
  11. You Are My Sunshine
  12. Welcome To My World
  13. Love Me Tender
  14. Buona Sera

FIM Moves from XRCD24 to K2 HD Releases
Also on display at CES will be FIM’s first releases in JVC’s new K2 HD mastering format. K2 HD is the next step in JVC’s continuing efforts to ring more audio benefits from the Redbook CD Audio Format. It is a continuation of the journey that started with XRCD and then progressed to XRCD2 and XRCD24 discs. Winston Ma at FIM tells me that he is so impressed with K2 HD that FIM will be moving away from XRCD24 and to K2 HD for all of its future CD releases.

FIM has released two K2 HD CD titles so far — This Is K2 HD Sound (a sampler of material in the new format) and Flamenco by classical guitarist Pepe Romero (an audiophile favorite from the Philips Classical catalog owned by Universal Music Group). In 2008, FIM plans several more K2 HD releases including some audiophile classics including Cantante Domino, Jazz at the Pawnshop and Antiphone Blues from the Proprius label, River of Sorrow and Messiah from the FIM catalog, O Sole Mio by Pavarotti on Decca, We Get Requests by Oscar Peterson Trio from Verve and several more titles from Philips Classical.

Of particular interest will be FIM’s plans to release K2 HD editions of the classic Getz/Gilberto and Ella and Louis from Verve. Since these two have previously appeared in SACD form from Verve and later on Verve Japan through remastered editions done by Seigen Ono, it will be interesting to compare them to the forthcoming K2 HD editions.

HRx: New System of Bringing High Quality Audio WAV Files to Home Music Servers — Sneak Preview at CES
With FIM’s long standing practice of adding an HDCD processed Stereo track to its Super Audio CD releases, it’s not surprising to learn that FIM will be showing a new music format from HDCD developer and audiophile producer and engineer Professor Keith Johnson at CES next week using material from Reference Recordings as the source. According to an overview released just before CES, the new HRx system involves capturing audio from the original master tapes at 24 bit / 176.4 kHz (4 times the Redbook CD Audio sampling rate) and delivering it as a high resolution WAV file.

Reference Recordings says that they will offer a sneak preview of the new HRx format at several locations during CES 2008 — including the displays by FIM, TAD, Magico and Luxman/On A Higher Note. They say that

«HRx is a digit-for-digit copy of an original Reference Recordings 176.4 kHz / 24-bit digital master. This is the ultimate in fidelity for two-channel sound. The HRx format contains high bit-rate WAV files. It is meant to play on computer-based music servers.»


This should be an interesting set of previews to check out while at CES next week. Particularly in light of Reference Recording’s practice of recording its albums at 176.4 kHz/24 bit Stereo and 88.2 kHz/24 bit Multichannel audio. If HRx is successful, one wonders if a Multichannel version of HRx could be next! Hmm….

The Stereo SACD edition of Sway! and the K2 HD editions of This is K2 HD Sound and Flamenco by Pepe Romero are now available at music stores and on several web sites including Acoustic Sounds, Elusive Disc and Music Direct.