Dr. AIX's POSTS — 15 December 2013

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Here’s the continuation of yesterday’s post:

“With a sampling rate between 96 and 192 kHz” – I love this one. The only standard sampling rate “between 96 and 192 kHz” is 176.4, which isn’t one of the sampling rates available on the Blu-ray format. Audio can be provided at 96 or 192 kHz…not between these two numbers. Did anyone with any audio knowledge proofread this script? The article from the other day did show that the Rolling Stones GRRR album was transferred from a DSD 64 file to 176.4 kHz. But the notes didn’t tell us how that rate was converted to the 96 or 192 kHz number in this “new format”. I’m guessing that don’t want us to know…it might have been done in the analog domain.

“No compression”
– Of course there’s compression used on the audio of a HFPA disc. What they’re trying to say is that we’re past the era of MP3 and AAC files usually associated with iTunes and other sites. This is known as “data compression”. It’s fundamentally different than audio compression. There were compressors used during the original sessions, compressors used during the mastering stage of the projects (even the classical ones) and compression used when the audio was prepared for the current releases. The audio on the HFPA discs is either Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master audio, both of which are compression schemes used on Blu-ray movies (and music discs…I use Dolby THD on all of my releases). But they are “lossless” data compression schemes and thus deliver 100% of the bits back to the listener after the decoding process.

“No video” – This is NOT something to brag about. There’s no video because they don’t have any video to put on the discs. These were audio recordings when they were conceived and they will always remain audio recordings…and standard definition ones at that. I’ve been approached to include my productions in the catalog of HFPA but I would have to re-author them without the video! Isn’t it preferable to have the video and simply turn it off if you prefer not to watch the performances? Interesting that the promotional segment on the Amazon site HAS video of the performances. The folks behind HFPA like videos when they’re marketing the new format but brag about having “no video” in their script.

hfpa_slide_2

“No compromise” – Another favorite. Everything about the new High Fidelity Pure Audio format is a compromise. These are standard definition productions rehashed and placed on blu-ray discs…they don’t measure up to the standards available these days BUT they invoke the numbers regardless of the fact that they don’t apply. They compromised on the potential of the format by putting three different encodings of the same source master. Not interesting.

High Fidelity Pure Audio, especially in the form that UMG and Dolby are taking, is a loser. If you want these albums, they are already available in perfectly acceptable standard definition formats that can completely capture all of the musical fidelity that was present on the source tapes or DSD files.

The future is NOT going to be on discs of any kind. The audiophile world is moving to downloads and even high resolution streaming. Upgrade your Internet speed and get a bigger hard drive…that’s the way to move into high resolution now!

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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.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. Hi Mark,

    I’m confused and a bit concerned.

    I love your articles and your dedication to making sure all new hi-rez discs and music files are truly housing hi-rez recordings. We ask you to keep up the good work. It’s brilliant.

    But we also love our old music. We know that the limitations of vinyl and CD made it impossible to have an uncompromised copy of what we knew what was on the master. Sheffield Labs showed us that there should be alot more fidelity. The Love soundtrack of remastered Beatles tunes gave us hope that many of the master tapes could render far better sound, especially now that the new hi-rez formats have plenty of room to fit them.

    These two projects are equally important, but totally different. Please praise the companies that are finding the best masters of our favorite old music and capturing them in their full musicality in a hi-rez file for our enjoyment. When they take sub-standard shortcuts, let us and them know that the sheriff’s in town!

    My concern was that the re-mastering of master-quality legacy recordings was being compared to the new recording standards. Both things should be clearly labeled and delineated. But please don’t attack the valid attempts to give us all the fidelity that the old masters have to give.

    • Paul…I’m with you 100%. I want the old recording in the best possible rendition as well. But I have real problems with the Pure Audio Blu-ray initiative because we’ve already gotten the “best available” transfers in the form of SACD or even better DVD-Audio. And now there are files available of these same transfers. Why bother with Blu-ray (which serves movies perfectly) for audio only releases. Just download them.

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