The legendary Quincy Jones celebrated his latest collaboration on Friday afternoon.
Harman teamed with with Quincy Jones to create a revolutionary set of headphones called the AKG N90Q’s. The product was first introduced at CES where it won a coveted best in show award. The innovative sound customization and design features were developed by AKG in cooperation with Quincy. His daughter Kidada Jones also assisted on the design. Thanks to TruNote technology, auto-calibration adjusts sound according to the shape of your ear allowing for a truly personalized listening experience. Its dual density memory foam assists with sound cancellation and allows for comfort. The headphones also boast distortion control. They are made of aluminum and sheep leather and the gold accents add a nice touch. You can also adjust the volume and tone on a dial on earphone. A built in DAC allows for full HD playback through digital micro USB with no quality loss.
Harman CEO Dinesh Paliwal elaborated on what the personalized listening experience means. He said, “just press a button and it sends, your right ear drum, your left ear drum, a unique frequency spectrum and gets the response back, and it actually detects what hearing impairment you might have gone through. Mind it, none of us may ever go through hearing impairment. So it detects that and it just offsets the music coming in. That’s only the start. It’s the first headphone in the world which gives you true HD. We’re going to talk about the HD (high-definition) music. What we all hear with these little junky white ear buds gets you 128 bits. Which is ten percent of what the artists, musicians like legendary Quincy, produce. So this the first headphone that gets you high-definition which is 96 kilohertz at 24 bits … It has active noise cancellation, which no other headphone has. I was talking to someone, the circuitry, the physics, the A to D conversion we do, you’re only allowed to do so far in the world of music in a big box machine. How do you pack all that in a little headphone? I only know that these scientists have done that.”
Paliwal discussed collaborating with Quincy Jones on this product. “Ever since he started walking, he started making the greatest music and Quincy has been a true inspiration to us. Right in loudspeakers, in microphones, in headphones, anything to do with music because he’s a perfectionist. If Quincy gets involved, you better get it right, or he’ll actually walk away, and will not ever talk about you. So being with Quincy has been a privilege, absolutely fun, and I think one of science’s greatest achievements … Talk about music … Quincy and Harman got together two or three years ago to really bring the message, that we are destroying, the greatest music mankind has ever heard by digitization. At the expense of mobility, we were losing the bandwidth, the fidelity of the music, all the highs and lows, all the transience. We were missing out completely … In fact I always say my children … they’re getting totally deprived of what music is supposed to sound like.”
He continued, “We put out a documentary, which has won three awards, that’s called ‘The Distortion of Sound.’ We wanted to expose the problem. The problem is [when] you’re digitizing, you’re losing it. We have to do something about it, and then we launched a new technology called Clarify, which actually brings your lousy and lossy music to CD level quality. But we’re not satisfied there, yet. We wanted a headphone which if you had high quality HD music, you could listen digitally without going through the analog cables … So the product that we are launching today has digital and analog both. Both are capabilities you have here and you can truly listen to what you’re supposed to. So that’s distortion of sound and I think it has gotten the world’s attention. The world is starting to realize and in fact the world has protesting … Neil Young, he’s been talking about HD music, he’s saying we got to talk more about it, so that all these telecom companies, they start put an A to D converter, so we have that capability in your smart phones to listen to high definition music, but the world is going in a direction [towards] cheap and low cost. The music industry is really just at the cusp of waking up and starting to make a lot of noise here.”
Quincy Jones remarked, ‘This is my first day away from my nurses … We had four nurses for three months. But I didn’t sleep much last night. This is really a special moment for me now. I’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time and I’ve been involved with movies and television and music and everything else, so the two things that I learned real early, was that, you need the engineer to capture that sound. Everything you’re doing, no matter how good the songs and the artists and everything else is, you need that engineer … and bring that sound to your ears. Little carriers of the sound … same as a director of photography in television and movies if he doesn’t get that right, in the right tone, and everything else, it doesn’t have the same effect and I have real big problem with the numbers two, six, and eleven. I don’t want to be number two. I start breaking legs when you talk about being number two. … And so, you have to believe in what you do … It’s what makes you feel good … and what gives you goose bumps and if you get goose bumps first, and we came from a jazz thing, a bebop thing. We never thought about money or fame. Never! Not even with ‘Thriller.’ You think about what makes you feel good and gives you goose bumps. And so we we tried to keep that same philosophy involved and working with the Harman hierarchy, they don’t play, they take no prisoners man. … And it’s just been one incredible, incredible, journey here to get to this point, cause we won the CES poll. Anyway we were so proud when we became number one in that. And that’s what I like. … And we were so thrilled to have this.”
Jones continued, “I’m just happy you’re here today and I cannot wait until you experience, the emotional experience, the sonic experience, of these … AKG N90Q’s. How many people here have heard the headphones? [applause] I rest my case, man. I’m so excited … I can’t wait till all of you hear the sound, you know cause I just melted when I first heard it. I said ‘yea baby, we got it! We got it.’ And it’s such a pleasure.”
Next, a Jones protege and a member of the Global Gumbo All Stars performed for attendees. Jones said in his introduction, “I heard him in Montreux, and he blew my mind … couldn’t get him off my mind and at one point he decided to defect from Cuba, and my Vice President Adam Fell went down there, and we all like to say that he got to Mexico, and they arrested and he played for them and they let him go. So he’s with us. We have a group of fifteen of the greatest musicians on the planet … And this man, cuban piano player, classical background, everything from salsa to symphony, everything, practices fourteen hours a day. I want you to give him all the love, you’ll see what I’m talking about, you’ll fall in love, with my little brother, mi hermano … Alfredo Rodriguez.” You can watch the performance below:
Also in attendance were singer Ila Paliwal (whose new album “Navaratna” is out now), Tommy Boy records founder Tom Silverman and Donna D’Cruz.