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Is It Live Or Is It…?

Whether your musical appeal is in traditional vinyl records or speedy iTunes downloads, the essence of the sound lies in harnessing the highest quality fidelity

Music may not necessarily define our personalities, but it does possess an essence that engages and eternalizes our deepest emotions at any given time. It is a powerful sensation that can float you into a scintillating trance, as you close your eyes and feel a drum beat thump along your skin just before a saxophone or trumpet solo engulfs and lifts you into a world high above that of your daily life.

Audio Lab

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Audio Lab’s showroom showcases some of the finest equipment in home entertainment. Leah Friel photos

To fully encapsulate the true identity of each recorded keystroke, chord, strum of a guitar or vocal pitch, the highest quality resolution must be harnessed intricately and processed through enhanced projection.

Since 1992, Tom Choy, owner of Audio Lab in Honolulu, has been tinkering with audio technology, developing his products and services around the audio capabilities that have been offered. Today, Choy fully utilizes the technologies in front of him, capitalizing on both the romantic equipments of yesteryear, such as basic LP turntables, to the most dynamic and sophisticated platforms for audio and visual media currently on the market.

“I have always been fascinated with the concept of re-creating the illusion of live music in the home, and that is what we’re all about. To think we started with turntables in the ’60s and then CDs in the ’80s, and now the transition is in digital,” says Choy, who gives much credit to Steve Jobs and Apple for their creation of computer music and what it has done for popular culture and sound.

“The iPad has become a huge game-changer for everything,” he says. “You can literally use it as a control center for your entire entertainment system. We can customize it so, at the end of the day, it is very intuitive and simple to use.”

Audio Lab is one of only a handful of sound companies in the country that use tablet technologies as a control dock for an entire home-entertainment system. From Apple TV and iTunes to Blu-ray video and satellite TV, all can be controlled by a tablet device. The days of three or four remote wands are seemingly coming to an end.

“There are other products that can do the same, but the iPad has been the most successful,” says Choy. “I wanted to see what else we can use it for, and now I am showing my customers that they can use it to enjoy high fidelity music. The sheer convenience of that is going to trump anything else at this point.

“Another part that makes the iPad so successful is its touch option. The human touch absolutely works, and it is amazing the real-time response it possesses in controlling a entertainment system.”

Regardless if you have highend audio equipment or simple, quality products that you can purchase at Best Buy or Walmart, through various trial-and-error experimentation Choy has adapted a systematic recipe that helps synchronize those products’ overall output, heightening your entertainment experience.

“I wanted to explore and get my feet wet, and surprisingly I found a solution,” he says. “This doesn’t ask for much more than a tablet, wireless network, a good DA converter and an amplifier.”

Beyond technology, the concept of decompression is vital to Choy, who realizes analytical decompression of recorded music can create the most dynamic quality of music. Using a combination of turntable equipment that includes an average-priced $500 turntable, a $400 arm, a state-of-the art cartridge, preamplifier and amplifier, Choy has created a turntable system that depicts just how magnificent analog sound can be. It is possible to get the most out of your vinyl records, which with the right recording can give a more vivid sound then downloaded computer music.

“The full potential of analog is incredible. You will notice its low-level dynamics and resolution. It can be incredibly explosive and tangible.

Sometimes the only disturbance you will hear is a slight hiss from the original recordings,” says Choy, who has tentative plans to open a vinyl record and CD shop within Audio Lab.

Even as our culture transitions continuously into the ever-evolving digital age, the older methods of capturing music and sound are still very much applicable and certainly resonate in value.

Although entertainment may be a luxury, the value of high-quality sound and entertainment has significant therapeutic qualities, and is at your fingertips with a few products, tweaks and connections. For more information on Audio Lab and the products and services it provides, visit audiolabhawaii.com.