Dr. AIX's POSTS — 29 November 2013

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I’m committed. The annual CES show in Las Vegas is coming in early January and iTrax.com/AIX Records has officially signed up to be part of the HRA (High-Resolution Audio) showcase. It’s a big expense but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to participate in something that I’ve been pushing for over a decade. HDtracks, SuperHiRez.com, Blue Coast Music, Mytek Digital, Native DSD and iTrax.com along with several other companies will be set up in the Bellini Room of the Venetian Hotel. If you’re planning on attending the event you should definitely stop by and say hello. I’ll be standing at my 10×10 booth from January 7-10, 2014.

The tipping point for me was the opportunity to be part of a couple of informational sessions that will be taking place on Tuesday, January 7. The first, at 2 pm, is entitled, “Welcome to the Hi-Res Music World”. The press information describes this way, “Featuring top executives from both major and independent labels who will discuss, along with their digital retail partners, the challenges and opportunities associated with licensing and distributing hi-res music.”

The second session is called, “Meet the Hi-Res Music Creators” and is described as “Exploring topics including the key advantages to working in hi-res formats; the availability of recording tools; and the importance of meta data in enhancing the overall listening experience.”

I’m not completely comfortable with the “pay to play” nature of the sessions. Why wouldn’t prominent personalities in the high-resolution audio area be included in these sessions WITHOUT having to spend big bucks to get a 10×10 area in the Bellini Room? It reminds me of the same unspoken requirement that manufactures purchase ads in the big magazines in order to get their equipment reviewed. I used to think that doing something notable was worthy of a story or review. I sometimes forget that this is a business for most participants…not a passion as it is for me.

The first session is about the business of high-resolution audio. I’m guessing that one will talk about identifying catalogs of existing music and the process of getting access to “high-resolution” audio transfers of those tracks. This is the model that HDtracks, SuperHighRez, and Native DSD have been pursuing. It’s one that matters to me as well…but with a difference.

The albums/tracks that are in the vaults of the major labels are virtually ALL standard definition recordings. The “Welcome to the Hi-Res Music World” should talk about the issue of provenance, the technical process of getting the so-called HD tracks to consumers and most importantly which masters are being transferred for eventual distribution through the retail partners. Of course, this isn’t what will happen.

The powers that be want a unified front in the advancement of this new market segment. Don’t expect to an honest discussion about the issues that I talk about here…unless some one in the audience of you asks a leading question or two.

However, the second session might allow some room for a discussion of the recording process and the differentiation between capturing music on analog tape, DXD, DSD or high-resolution PCM and what that means for consumers.

I’ll report on the outcome following the event.

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. Good luck at the event, Mark, and I hope that you make progress promoting the idea of a track’s provenance. The approach you have described in your blog makes a lot of sense to me and is reinvigorating my interest in buying new music as well as procuring new equipment capable of response up to 50 kHz. I believe that demonstrating the provenance of a track will be a win-win for the record companies and for consumers. I am willing to pay money all over again for a recording that has bypassed the mastering stage as you described yesterday. I know that track of older material will not be high-res, but at least will be closer to what the producer shipped off to be made into an LP years ago. But I am even more interested in buying new performances recorded in high-res. Having a system to demonstrate the provenance is the best way for record companies to get me to part with my money.

    If the approach you advocate were to be adopted by the record companies, I believe it would spur new music sales, drive better fidelity in the making of a recording, and generate new equipment sales as music lovers realize that equipment that limits response above 50 kHz is a bottleneck in the hi-resolution chain. Eliminating the bottleneck and extending playback system response to 50 kHz is key to the fidelity of the in-band waveforms.

    If record companies are in business to make money, I think they will make more of it by using the approach you’ve described.

    Thanks for your work, Mark.

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