Dr. AIX's POSTS iTrax — 01 December 2013

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iTrax, my high-resolution digital music download site, was launched in November of 2007, which makes it the very first hi-res audio download site. AIX Records was founded in 2000 and was among the first high-definition audio labels. I was intent to producing REA HD tracks instead of repurposing standard definition materials. To this date every track available on iTrax.com is a bona fide high-resolution audio track…nothing from analog tape and nothing from standard definition digital audio. All of the files were sourced from labels producing new HD tracks. I’m proud to have my own AIX Records materials on the site as well as hundreds of albums from other labels including 2L, Harmonia Mundi, Naxos, SFS Media and others.

But you know as well as I do that these labels aren’t part of the hit machine. And plenty of audiophiles want the very best sound for albums in their collection from the major labels. This, of course, was part of the business model that HDtracks pursued…and they’ve been very successful with it. Recently, other labels are moving in to the same territory. Some are trying to capitalize on the recent hype around DSD while others like HighResAudio are emulating the success of HDtracks in other territories.

I agree that the world deserves to have access to classic recordings from the past regardless of whether they were recorded on analog tape or a Blättnerphone…but tracks of any era and technology MUST include two essential pieces of information. The provenance of the album or track should be prominently displayed on the web page AND the delivery format/specifications. The current situation of saying everything is “hi-res” just because the delivery container specs out as a high-resolution bit bucket is misleading, dishonest and is creating distrust in the marketplace.

This is bad news for everyone involved in high-end audio. If we aren’t provided with accurate information about the tracks we’re purchasing then everyone loses…hardware companies as well as audio labels and digital download sites.

iTrax.com will be expanding to include standard definition content in the first quarter of next year. I’m headed to Las Vegas to participate in the High-Resolution Audio “Techzone” showcase during CES and hoping to bring some clarity to the unfortunate situation that dominates the high-end download opportunity.

The new iTrax design will provide several innovative features that I believe will benefit audiophiles that want and deserve. The slogan for the revamped site is “Quality Audio – Honest Marketing”.

Here’s some of the things that will be part of the new site:

• Full provenance information on the source and format of the master
• Spectragrams of the tracks/albums
• High-resolution samples to audition prior to purchase
• Multiple delivery format options including downloads, discs and even analog tape
• Processed tracks for headphone surround and acoustic models
• Stereo and multichannel albums/tracks
• High-resolution PCM and DSD file types
• PDF files of the artwork (when available)
• Full technical information for each album
• Comprehensive production credits

I’m open to all comments, suggestions, criticism and ideas regarding the new site. I don’t have a ton of advertising money to spread around purchasing banner ads and magazine pages, my hope is that word of mouth will make iTrax, the ultimate place to acquire the best quality music downloads in the world. I want this to be a site for passionate audio lovers and not just a place to drop $25-30 on smoke and mirrors. Stay tuned. I’ll be posting images from the new design over the next week or so.

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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.

(4) Readers Comments

  1. Is iTrax intending to list provenance, spectrograms, PDF artwork and technical information for only the AIX label or for all labels appearing on the iTrax site? I think it would be great if you could provide it for all labels. There is no better way to get the industry to move in your direction than to lead by example. If the other download sites follow suite, then high-resolution audio may get onto a virtuous (upward) spiral and more consumers will start buying files about which there is no doubt the resolution is high. I believe this spiral will continue and result in more sales of high-resolution-capable hardware, too. I’m excited to experience the new Web site and I’m excited to see whether other consumers share the excitement of finding an unambiguous way to enjoy better sound.

  2. I am always searching for the best versions of my favorite songs.

    I only recently started purchasing HiRez downloads, mostly because early experiences did not sound ANY different from CDs! I am let down by the lack of info at HDTracks.

    Thank you for starting this up – to share with us REAL detail!

  3. Hi. I have an extensive collection of surround sound recordings on SACD and DVD-audio discs, and am a great fan and proud promoter of surround sound audio to my friends and family. I am interested in downloading surround sound recordings over the internet. My question is: how would I play back these recordings? Would it have to be by using a PC with a 5.1-capable sound cards, which I then would have to connect to the 5.1 audio inputs on my receiver? Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Colin, I make hundreds of albums available in 5.1 surround sound. They can be downloaded as interleaved WAV or FLAC files at my download site iTrax.com. To play them you can use a computer with a surround sound card but I find it much easier to use my Oppo Blu-ray player, which can easily play surround files from a USB or eSata HD.

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