The New Year brings some change to the pages of Surround Professional. Some of these changes, such as the obvious size change, will make Surround Professional easier to hold, carry, and store, while addressing mundane issues such as giving the publication flexibility in distribution. Others, such as the fact that I am writing this editorial instead of Tom Holman, are based on a shifting of editorial responsibility. Tom, freshly recognized for his significant contributions to film sound by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, wears many hats – educator, inventor, manufacturer – as well as editor and author. Now, Tom’s editorial duties will be focused on the new Web site www.surroundadvisor.com, which will serve as a source for a new column in these pages. Tom remains on the masthead as founding editor, and will continue to help chart and pioneer the surround industry with us and you.
Beginning next issue, a series of guest editors will see us through the year – notable luminaries in the fields of film sound and music will lend their talents to Surround Professional, maintaining our position on the leading edge of the surround sound movement. I can’t drop any names just yet, but, based on the conversations to date, these individuals are bringing a lot of enthusiasm to the table, and that will undoubtedly translate into exciting reading.
As with all technology-driven industries, the world of professional audio is in a constant state of accelerating change. For those who like to ride that leading edge, this can be a boon – constantly facing new challenges and opportunities can be an exciting way to live. But constant change can also be unnerving. The process of keeping up can be a detriment to simply getting things accomplished.
Addressing the ground-breaking changes affecting pro audio is the reason Surround Professional was created. The role of surround sound, while well understood in the world of cinema, is still uncharted territory for most engineers and producers working in music production. But, as in the golden age of exploration by sea, surround sound provides a tantalizing draw to the adventurous and the promise of new realms to settle for pioneering folk. As with stereo, surround offers a great potential for sparking enthusiasm in the consumer world – consumers know what home theater has brought to the experience of watching a movie in their own home, and it is a short step to getting them equally addicted to a surround music experience.
How these experiences get to the home is still another issue. The competing new formats of DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD are just beginning to gain momentum. DVD-A and SACD represent an unheard of level of quality for the consumer, but as of yet have a bit of an identity crisis with the end user. More rapidly successful than any physical sound and video media format in history, DVD-Video (joined by digital cable and satellite transmission) has surround capabilities that already have made an impact in the living room. But the single digital connection that carries audio into an intelligent receiver – where the consumer doesn’t have to fret about formats – has no equivalent with the high-resolution linear digital formats. A marketing and education process is needed to simplify the use of whatever round shiny disc the consumer buys.
Before the consumer can face these questions, the professional world must educate themselves. Surround Professional is designed to be a primary tool to meet those ends. Be the subject the mechanics of distribution formats, the aesthetics of mixing for surround, the latest in digital conversion technology, the improvements in audio data compression algorithms, the art of capturing performances, high-resolution audio processing in both the analog and digital domains – Surround Professional will be your guide.
Whatever the next year brings for audio professionals, change is a constant. And Surround Professional will be your constant companion on the journey.