S+V: Ok, it’s time to bring out your crystal ball. What do you see for the future of surround mixing?
Wilson: I might be wrong, but I detect a slight pickup in interest in the audiophile end of the market, which I think the major record labels had turned their backs on the last few years. But it was through the artists’ push, like Neil Young and Tom Petty, where you would actually get high-rez releases and 5.1 mixes. And the record companies have picked up on it because this is one of the last chances they may have to sell physical product. These are the guys who will still pay $100 for a box set.
There’s always a moment with a format like this where it comes down to one band, very high profile, doing the right thing and blowing it open for everyone else. And obviously the biggest one would be the Beatles. If the Beatles were to issue high-rez remixes, it could change everything. They need to release surround mixes of Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and The White Album — it’s as simple as that.
S+V: Led Zeppelin could blow it wide open too if their catalog was done in 5.1
Wilson: No doubt about it. My understanding is that Jimmy Page approves everything, so if this idea gets to him, I’d sure love to do it.
My policy is that the more catalog that’s out there acts as doorways for people who never listened to surround sound before to go out and invest in a Blu-ray player and all of the speakers just so they could hear their favorite album of all-time in surround sound. Once they’ve got their system, the hope is that they’re going to go and check out other surround mixes. that’s why I keep pushing this through. The more projects I can do, the better. I don’t want to be the only person doing it [chuckles], but the catalog album I do 5.1 for next is somebody’s favorite album, and they’ll buy a surround system when it coming out.
S+V: Will 5.1 thrive or wilt as the MP3 era continues?
Wilson: At the same time the audiophile 5.1 format emerged, MP3s did the opposite to music, making it smaller and more convenient, and it took away the whole art of listening. It’s a shame in a way that the one thing kind of eclipsed the other. But the audiophile way is finding its feet again. People are more and more aware of the shit they’re listening to with mp3s. I do go on the forums sometimes, and I see there are those people who say CDs are low-rez, which is pretty crazy to me since I think CDs still sound pretty good, generally speaking. There’s a snobbery toward 44.1-kHz/16-bit; nothing but 96/24 will do now. Which is an amazing kind of mindshift, but that suits me fine. All of my Blu-rays are 96/24, and I’m recording that way too. Neil Young records at 192, which is insane.
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