AUDIO SHOWS Dr. AIX's POSTS — 31 March 2014

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The SSI 2014 Show is over. I started today’s post as I sat at the airport waiting to board an Air Canada flight back to Los Angeles. I paid the extra baggage fees but I refused to pay to select a seat and it seems I’ll be sitting in the middle seat for the 6-hour ride home. The Air Canada people couldn’t even handle a cash payment for my extra bags AND then it was different amount ($9 more!) to use cash than credit cards. “I’m sorry it’s out of my control,” the agent told me. Flying has become a real drag these days. I usually fly Southwest because I can get two bags without paying more but they don’t come to Montreal.

Traffic at the SSI show was very slow yesterday due to the early morning snow. I would have to guess that it was the slowest Sunday I’ve ever encountered. I think I sold enough discs to cover the cab ride and extra baggage fees…not too good. The people that did stop and chat were very interested and friendly. Most walked away with at least the sampler.

However, I was very encouraged by the attendance at my seminar. I spoke for an hour on “High-Resolution Digital Downloads: Time for Truth and Honesty”, a topic that was nixed for the upcoming AXPONA Show in Chicago because it would be too controversial and might alienate other vendors or sponsors.

I was glad the Canadians could handle the truth. The many spectrograms I displayed clearly demonstrate why most of the music you download in high-resolution is no better than the vinyl LPs or CDs that you already have. In fact, the websites are deliberately misleading you about the files they allow you to purchase. You’re paying for premium gas or even racing fuel and getting low octane regular. No wonder you souped up ride doesn’t feel any different.

Early yesterday morning, as I prepared the Power Point for my presentation, I went through the media library associated with this site and peeled out nearly 20 spectrograms from previous posts. They were from files downloaded from 8 high-resolution digital music sites…and all of them showed that they had been filtered or processed AND contained no information that would qualify them as HRA. Many of them claimed to be 96 kHz or 192 kHz PCM files but contained no frequencies higher than 22 kHz…meaning they probably started life as DSD 64 files. This is very disappointing and doesn’t bode well for the market in general and Pono specifically.

I let the attendees know that I would be slowly populating the HRA Database over at HRA Planet with accurate information on ALL of the High-Resolution digital music download sites AND that I would include a spectrogram and evaluation for each album they offer. This will take a while so please be patient. I think it’s the only way that the powers that be will get the message that we want more information AND hopefully better source files.

The new iTrax site will present this information as well AND be a resource for reference quality downloads. It’s going to take a while but I’m committed.

There are lots of really wonderful recordings available on HDtracks and Qobuz but they are merely misrepresented as “high-resolution audio” or “master quality” when they are actually standard resolution.

I watched a couple of movies on the plane with my new Sony MDR 7250 phones (with response up to 80 kHz). After a couple of hours, I couldn’t handle the ear fatique…I’m not really a headphone guy.

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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. If DSD64 cannot reach frequencies above 22KHz due to noise filtering, it is in fact a standard resolution audio container. The conclusion is that all SACD records are also standard resolution. Is that true?

    • Yes, it is. I gave my presentation at the SSI show over the weekend and included a slide in my Power Point about what isn’t High-Resolution Audio…and item number 1 was DSD 64 for just that reason. It’s a wonderful standard for doing what CDs were doing 15 years ago…and probably better than the CD of the time. In the “audio band” DSD 64 works great but it pales in comparison to the accuracy of HD PCM files….from a technical perspective. I also prefer the sound in additional to the theory.

  2. ” nixed for the upcoming AXPONA Show” What??! That’s 3/4 of the reason I was planning on attending, to hear you speak. ARGH!!

    “too controversial” BAH! TOO TRUTHFUL, maybe. Yeah you might expose the snake oil vendors. What rubbish.

    • I will be giving a presentation called “2014: Is This The Year of High-Resolution Audio?” and I’ll talk frankly about the current situation.

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