I knew that I had arrived in Vegas the moment I settled into the rattling hotel shuttle bus and got hit in the mullet with “Wild Wild West” blaring from some fossilized 80’s radio station while billboards like, “Erocktica Live! Sex, Sweat & Rock ‘n’ Roll” flashed by.
At that moment all that came to mind was, “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.”
Here’s the lowdown on the trip…
The Food –
If you ever come here, Eat at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace and sit at the bar. If your lucky, you’ll get Dave Cooper as your wait person. Besides being a great raconteur and top notch golf teacher he knows how to give a generous pour and listen to an out-of-towner better than anyone. And, if you watch A&E, you can occasionally see him on “Caesars’s 24/7”.
The food here takes its cue from the Southwest but with very interesting twists, turns and surprises; just look at the menu. I’d come back here in a heartbeat.
Dave mentioned that I should also try Bradley Ogden’s, which is just down the hall at Caesar’s. Bradley’s philosophy is “Keep it simple; use the freshest ingredients available and put them together in such a way that the flavors, colors and textures combine to bring out the best in each other.” Other than the word “simple” he’s dead on; check the menu. Food was top shelf. Wait staff was great. Bill was huge. I’d come back here in heartbeat too. Once it returns.
Another nice place that Dave and I discussed was Todd English Olives in the Bellagio. Truly honest Mediterranean food, pleasant staff, and unmatched people watching. I’m convinced that Ken and Barbie were in a booth across from me.
Ken’s put on a few. Barbie’s still…plastic.
The 2005 NAB Show itself –
The next “Big Thing” in our industry will be mixing for HD-Radio. Just like HDTV, The HD in HD-Radio stands for High Definition. Will you need a new radio? Yes. Are they Cheap? As an after-market car add-on, relatively. Does it sound better? Yes. Absolutely. Sometimes.
Let me explain…
In laymen’s terms; If a station were to use the majority of the space that it has allotted on the dial for its digital signal, the sound would be terrific; near CD quality. If, however, the station were to “multi-cast” – a situation where they would provide different radio programs on one frequency, (more on that later) the sound quality would be, to my subjective ears and listening tests, about the same as regular FM, or as I found in one rare instance – worse. However, to me, all the HD-Radio I heard, sounded way better from a sonic standpoint than anything I’ve heard to date on satellite radios from Sirius and XM.
The thing that has broadcasters the most geeked about this technology is the multi-casting aspect of it. What’s that mean? Well, with a station that is multi-casting you would simply tune your HD-Radio to the same frequency that you always have and you’d hear the main programming that you know. If they offer a sub-channel, there will be a display on the radio that will show you what other offerings they have. Think of it as clicking through a website; you never leave the domain, you just get different pages with different content. For instance you could tune-in to “All Things Considered” on the main channel and, perhaps, “A Few Other Things You Might Not Have Considered” on sub-channel 1, and “Nothing But Speculation Considered” on sub-channel 2. Broadcasters are seeing this as a new way to attract different audiences to the same “brand” while extending their revenue streams.
What will be a very interesting to see is how advertisers and advertising agencies handle HD-Radio’s unique feature of scrolling text messages. These messages occur on the screen while music (or other content) is playing, and might show information regarding the artist or album title. The possibility of doing this during a radio ad on an HD-Radio System opens up many possibilities: Is this the place for putting those nettlesome phone numbers that suck the life out of a radio ad? Or maybe, just maybe, we can stick the disclaimers there? Or maybe there is dialogue happening between the audio and the text? I’m looking forward to working with this.
So, is this a lame duck technology like AM Stereo, or Quadraphonic sound? Not likely, as there are more and more stations around the country going live with this technology everyday. Its here to stay.
Will your old AM/FM radio be obsolete? Not completely. And, if so, not for a long time since the main programming content that you know will still be on the same channel in the same way for quite awhile – as i understand it, the digital signal is simply piggybacked onto the traditional analog one.
Am I, as someone who services the broadcast industry, going to buy an HD-Radio? Yes.
Is there anyone in the Twin Cities broadcasting in HD? Yes, on both AM and FM.
5.1 Surround Sound Radio
There is a lot of noise being generated by this very exciting possibility. I was able to listen to several of the surround encoders at the convention and I was really impressed by one in particular thats made by Omni Audio in Cleveland. Not too surprisingly, there are some obstacles to overcome before any of this becomes a broadcast reality; there’s a limited amount of content from recording artists and there’s no agreed upon encoder for how to definitively broadcast and receive it.
Apparently, and i was completely unaware of this, surround sound radio in an analog form is already alive and well in Japan using a system from SRS Labs. As well, car manufacturers are placing receivers for this type of surround sound in their automobiles. I listened to this particular encoder and found it filled with strange phase stuff when the signal went from surround, to stereo, and then to mono. So, I’m perplexed by its acceptance into the marketplace.
There were two systems that I heard that i thought held real promise. One was made by Omnia Audio and the other was manufactured by Neural Audio. Each approaches the technology in a different manner, which I won’t delve into here, but my vote goes to Omnia for creating an encoder that is extremely transparent when going from surround, to stereo, to mono. It sounded real, and it sounded cool.
It will be interesting to see what the marketplace and broadcasters decide to do with it all.
Surround Sound Headphones
That is not a a typo. Surround Sound headphones are real. They sound quite good too, although the bass that you would normally feel “in front” gets a bit lost in the surround mode. If you want to know more, click here. Be aware that, on this site, the default page loads in German, so in the upper left hand corner click the English flag to read the text.
The Few Events I Didn’t Attend, And Why –
The First Annual Hard Drive Toss Contest
(I’ve wanted to throw my own many times. Throwing somebody else’s just wouldn’t have the same impact.)
Digital Asset Management Happy Hour
(I couldn’t tell if this was an event, or a murder clue.)
Come Together, Right Now! Broadcaster Town Meeting on Indecency & Responsible Programming
(Guys, look outside. You’re in Vegas)
The Orban All-Star Band
(Frankly, even “Erocktica” looked better)
Miscellaneous Musings About The Trip
My favorite moment came Sunday night as I was walking home from dinner at the Mesa Grill and passed by the enormous fountain show outside the Bellagio hotel.
This is an event.
The water from the fountains was swirling, dancing, rising and falling like something out of Fantasia. Everything was choreographed to music. There was oohing and ahhing as this highly romanticized, way over the top, 60 some odd piece orchestra soared and sawed through, of all things…
“It’s a gift to be simple”
Only in Vegas.
What a great trip.