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Monster Music

Music can take us on a journey back to a place and time that may have been buried deep in our memory. Nothing but perhaps our noses can induce a sense memory so intensely.

This time of year, its the sound of Christmas music that most often takes me for a trip into the past. Bing Crosby sends me back to the Christmas gift-lined living room of my grandparents house, Johnny Mathis reminds me of December weekends with my mom, and Karen Carpenter sends me back to the outdoor ice-skating rink on Monument Circle in Indianapolis. Sometimes a Christmas song simply evokes an emotion or a mood.

Thats why I was especially excited to learn that Monster Music had chosen A Charlie Brown Christmas as one of its six initial offerings in the new SuperDisc format. Next to the Rankin/Bass stop-action animated Christmas shows, the Charlie Brown cartoon is one of my favorites this time of year. So when Monsters CEO Noel Lee gave me a copy of the Vince Guaraldi Trios soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, I couldnt wait to hear what he and his team of engineers had accomplished.

In case you werent aware, Monster, already a manufacturer of cable, power, and furniture products recently expanded into audio software with the launch of its Monster Music division to develop high-resolution discs.

On a recent trip to New York, Monsters CEO Noel Lee dropped by the RS editorial office to answer questions about the motivation behind this new endeavor and where he hopes to take it. Lee explained that his primary goal is create a complete experience for his customers, from the electronics and furniture, all the way to the control system (planned for CES) and music software. According to Lee, Monsters great success since 1978 has been based on the companys ability to train retailers on attachment selling. He calls it the art of accessorizing, and it is reflected not only in a salespersons ability to sell high-end cable to someone buying a set of speakers, but also adding amplifiers and processors to a TV purchase. Now, with Monster Music, SuperDiscs are not only an attachment, but also an important demonstration tool.

Lee believes that most sales associates fail to demonstrate the entire surround sound experience, focusing only on their favorite movie clips, not on music and games. So Monster Musics six current releases, including A Charlie Brown Christmas; Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company; and 3 Doors Down, Away from the Sun Live from Houston, provide a much more aggressive approach to the surround mix than prior formats. Additionally, the 3 Doors Down package offers a DVD, filmed in high-def and mastered in high-def surround sound for both Dolby and DTS 96/24. But even more unique is the discs use of both in-the-audience and on-stage surround mixes. Each Monster Music package contains both a DVD and CD stereo disc to offer customers the most convenience.

Lee said that he likes the idea of enabling retailers to sell the software that they demo. A lot of times when you perform a music demo, a lot of our retailers dont sell software, he explained. I ask, So whens the last time you demod something you didnt sell? You might as well sell software too.

And the sales pitch for these discs is an easy one. All you have to do is listen to Charlie Brown to realize what an amazing archive Lee and his team have created. They took a 40-year-old, three-channel master recording, and remixed it for surround. The discs bonus features take you through this process in detail, but listening to the tracks on the disc can take you wherever your memories of this timeless music go. For me, it was back to many December nights as a kid getting ready for Santa and to more recent years watching Christmas specials with my wife. But now, thanks to Monster Music, it sounds a whole lot better than it ever did through the mono speaker on my 27-inch TV.