It’s safe to say our experiment bringing Jake Shimabukuro to CES this year as a live music reference worked out pretty well. Response was overwhelmingly positive and we’re sifting through the comments and will start filing reports on each of the seven rooms we visited over the next week or so.

Comparing live musicians to their recorded selves as been done at CES and other shows many times. But to our knowledge, nobody has ever taken the recording and live musician to a variety of rooms at a show and reported on the results.

The point of this approach would seem obvious: we have a live reference to compare directly to a recording of that reference as we move from room to room. And since the live musician and playback equipment are both in the same space, room acoustics will be consistent, for better or worse, for both.

But there are still some important caveats that need to be acknowledged: the microphone (and its placement) and recording equipment’s effect on the final track. Every microphone has a distinct sound, and no two (and sometimes even of the same make and model) sound exactly alike. So, though we’ve tried to choose a neutral sounding classic mic (2 vintage Neumann KM84 microphones and Lavry mic preamps), we take this into account as we compare. After a few rooms, these variables became familiar and helped inform our observations.

To minimize any other distractions, the track we used, “Eleanor Rigby”, had been recorded direct to 24/192 PCM from the mic/preamp in a treated room with no processing, compression or reverb added. The recording was made by the same engineer, Milan Bertosa, who recorded the famous Israel Kamakawiwoʻole “Iz” version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” Furthermore, we used the same instrument and brand of strings from the session.


We also used 24/88 tracks from Jake’s recent release, Nashvilles Sessions, which is out now. So those of you at home with this album can play along with us. More to come.