Steve Vai Talks Music and Home Theater


Guitar legend Steve Vai is in tune with the advancements in technology that are affecting his profession, as well as its impact on the consumer experience. Vai’s interest in technology extends beyond the music-making process, to consumer electronics and magazines like Electronic House and CE Pro.

One of the world’s best guitarists is just as passionate about his home theater as he is about his guitar playing.

Oct. 21, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

When you’re personally chosen by Frank Zappa to join his band fresh out of college, it likely means that you are destined for greatness. 

It can be tough to live up to the expectations, but in the case of guitarist Steve Vai, the New York-born musician has lived up to and exceeded the lofty goals that were established during his youth.

Today Vai is considered the Tiger Woods of his profession—the best at what he does—and the enthusiasm with which he approaches his job he also applies to other facets of his life, including his home theater, which Vai was also glad to talk about when I had the chance to interview him this week at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Mass.

The musician took time to talk about his music, the art of recording and the impact that properly regulated and filtered electricity can have on professional and home theater equipment. 

Vai says today’s media, driven by high-definition video and surround-sound audio, is more expensive to produce, but the added costs are worthwhile. 

“The process of authoring Blu-ray is so expensive,” he explains. “Most concert DVDs are not released in Blu-ray because it’s not cost effective, but since I own the [record] label I can do whatever I want. After editing it in full rez [resolution] I had to release the Blu-ray. It’s also interesting that it’s recouped [the cost] in one week from the orders because people are demanding high quality.”

Vai’s Live in Minneapolis: Where the Wild Things Are will be out on DVD and as a two-disc Blu-ray release next month.

He says the end result of all this hard work is a better experience for consumers who, like himself, are investing into home theaters—including dedicated theater rooms with projection screens and full surround sound—as a means of entertainment.

“I’ve been fortunate, but when it came time to build my home theater, I said, ‘this is it, this is my toy, this is what I want’ and I went all out,” Vai admits.

“I have an incredible system: a 119-inch screen with a projector that’s $30,000, but that 5.1 experience is just thrilling and especially when you are watching a good concert video mixed in 5.1 and filmed in high def.”

Looking ahead, the respected musician says that because of the rapid advancements in technology he’s excited about his next recording project and how technology will bolster the music-making process, as well as the listening experience for music fans. 

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