SXSW Conference is a grand spectacle this year. The formerly-independent tracks of Music, Film, and Interactive are now combined to be under the singular umbrella of SXSW. The first five days are dominated by their “Interactive” track content—related to technology and innovation.
Part of SXSW is the introduction of new technologies to the public. Dell is currently displaying their Precision Workstations at an event open only to badge-holders. At this event, Jack Joseph Puig, 11-time GRAMMY Award winning record producer, is displaying Dell’s “Precision” line of all-in-one computers, as well as their consumer-oriented XPS line.
Puig is in a small semi-soundproof room highlighting new sound technology from Dell. The small room is filled with numerous awards and very familiar names—Lady Gaga, Rolling Stones, U2 and a host of others. A black curtain can be drawn to separate him and his sound system from the outside world.
He’s here for a reason. His passion is for sound.
“The reason I care about sound. It’s the conduit between you and me. I can’t access your heart, without the sound connecting us.”
He came here to find ways to share with the average consumer, the level of sound that he experiences as a producer. He wants them to hear what he hears, so they can feel what he feels. This led him to work with a company called “Waves” on the consumer side of sound.
His inspiration started with a story. He had a “really great time” in the studio working Lady Gaga in the morning and No Doubt at night. The big speakers of his “Hollywood studio” gave him an incredible listening experience and left him with a great sense of confidence in the quality of sound he’d produced.
However, he came home and there were a bunch of people around a little laptop, drinking, hanging out with their feet up on the couch, pushing the volume up trying to get it louder.” It was then he realized “This is the real thing. This is what happens. No matter how good the studio sound is, it doesn’t matter if the consumer doesn’t experience it at that level.”
At this point, he became inspired to get into the consumer product industry. “I thought I should take my professional skills that I’ve worked so hard to develop and I should go over to the consumer side and help them.” This ultimately led to the sound room he is standing in.
He talks about how years of working in the music industry have finally returned him to his roots as a man that loves music. He’s the kind of guy that can’t leave his car if he likes the songs that’s playing. Years of working in the industry had taken him further from the personal experience of music and into the “professional perspective.” But, he’s found his way back from that. He realized so many of the things he’d paid attention to as a professional “meant nothing to the average consumer” and “it’s the meat and potatoes that really matter.”
Here in the sound booth, the “meat and potatoes” are Dell’s Precision and XPS lines of computers, which are designed to make a higher quality of sound available to the computer. There are two computers in the room. One is a non-Dell computer. The other is an XPS all-in-one. The Dell speaker is slightly different. It has 50 watts of power and 10 speakers. There are six front-firing speakers and two down-firing speakers as well as two passive radiators. The inclusion of front and down-firing speakers is part of what differentiates this system from others.
The down-firing speakers mimic the way that a voice reverberates in a room. The sound surrounds in a particularly dimensional way. It has a stronger sense of placement and direction than the rival system. Nuances emerge and reveal slight layers of auditory presence not previously distinguishable.
The difference is mostly in the subtleties. The sound has a stronger sense of placement. Particular sounds feel like they are in particular places, they have a dimensional quality. The nuances emerge delicately and reveal light layers of auditory presence not necessarily otherwise distinguishable.
Puig wants to keep working on the consumer side. He says that “HP wants to work with me, but I’m a Dell guy” but he does plan on other implementations of consumer oriented high-quality sound. He even says he wants to take the technologies that he’s helped develop and utilize them in products like smartphones and tablets. Puig wants to make sure that everybody gets the chance to hear music the way it was meant to be heard.
A representative from Dell steps in the booth and requests that Puig stops playing music while they are doing presentations outside. Puig is delighted and responds. “You just gave me the greatest compliment in the world, that we could be in a sound booth with everything closed, and it’s just the computer, and it’s too loud for people.” The Dell representative smiles politely and exits the sound booth.