HDCD pioneer honoured for 'better than in the hall' Britten disc
Slightly overlooked in the news coverage of the 53rd Grammy Awards was the success of one of the legends of audiophile audio: Reference Recordings' Keith O Johnson, usually known as 'Prof', picked up a trophy for Best Surround Sound album.
The award, which the celebrated engineer shares with producer David Frost, was for the label's SA-CD Britten's Orchestra, its first surround sound release.
On the disc, Michael Stern conducts the Kansas City Symphony in Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, the Sinfonia da requiem, and the Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes.
The recording is also available in a variety of stereo formats including MP3, 44.1kHz/16-bit and 88.2kHz/24-bit downloads, as a standard CD, and as a DVD data disc containing 176.4kHz/24-bit 'HRx'.
Gramophone's original review of the CD commented that 'In either stereo or HDCD, the sound is better than being in the hall: rich in detail, gold in colour and equal to any volume.'
'Prof' Johnson was a founding partner in Pacific Microsonics, where he played a major part in the development of HDCD, and has also designed pro and consumer audio equipment.
He has previously received seven Grammy nominations for Best Engineered Classical Recording, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Audio Engineering Society.
He's currently working on multichannel processing for large screen sound, and consulting on hearing physiology and hearing correction.
One of his next projects will see him returning with Frost to the Kansas City Symphony in May, this time to record Elgar's 'Enigma' Variations and Vaughan Williams's The Wasps.
Andrew Everard, Audio Editor of Gramophone since November 1999, read English at Queens' College, Cambridge a very long time ago, and was a member of the Westminster Abbey Special Choir even further back in the mists of time. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, High Fidelity, Audiophile and Home Cinema magazines, as well as contributing a monthly column to Japanese title HiVi.