Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS — 03 April 2014

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It’s been one year since the founding of the RealHD-Audio.com website. I’ve been posting my thoughts regarding high-resolution audio on this site everyday since April 4, 2013 and don’t think I’ve missed more than a day or two…and that was usually because of technical glitch or other technical problem. These posts have become a part of my routine. I really enjoy sitting down and sharing my opinions, my expertise and some of my experiences. I realize not everyone agrees with everything that I write but I hope it gets you thinking.

According to Google Analytics, almost 50,000 people has visited the site and clicked on 250,000 pages. And that doesn’t count those of you that get the posts directly through the email…that’s another 2500 audiophiles per day. Over 15,000 people have asked for the credentials to the FTP site so they can access some real high-resolution audio files. And thanks to those that have taken the time to report back with their reactions. I can report that the response has been universally positive. However, I did get one email that said the files were only “pretty good”.

My recent trip to Montreal was also very encouraging as I met at least a dozen individuals that told me that enjoy reading the daily posts. There is a very real community of enthusiasts for “real high-resolution audio” and I believe this site has contributed to that enthusiasm. It just proves that one person can make an impact.

I haven’t run out of things to write about yet. Just today, I was reading an article about Pono at Digital Trends written by Caleb Denison entitled, “Pono naysayers miss the point: It’s not about HD Audio, it’s about what’s inside”. The piece has the entire situation completely backwards. His analogy tries to compare looking out a dirty window to see the beautiful trees to that of a lousy music player preventing us from hearing all of the fidelity of contained in the “trees”. Caleb then says the following, “To get better-sounding music, you don’t really need to change the quality of the files you listen to any more than you need to make the trees outside greener; you need to change the hardware you’re listening through.”

Amazing! What if the window is pristine and the trees are actually cardboard reproductions of trees using a 256-color palette? How would they look then? This is closer to the truth behind our need to enhance our listening experiences. The music files don’t contain the fidelity that we want…the production pipeline has accepted commercially imposed limitations and continues to live by them. We need better productions AND state-of-the-art playback units.

The Pono player is undoubtedly an impressive piece of audio engineering. I had hoped to get my hands on a unit last evening at the Neil Young concert but didn’t manage to make the connection. But no matter how good the DAC or the headphone/playback amplifier, it’s still a case of “garbage in equals garbage out!”

So I would like to sincerely thank all of you for continuing to support this daily exercise by visiting the site and agreeing to receive the daily emails. I’m looking forward to the next year and anticipating some major changes in the high-resolution audio marketplace.

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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.

(19) Readers Comments

  1. Keep up the good work. I read your comments everyday. Make more great recording that I can buy. Thanks for your expertise.great energy,and enthusiasum. John in Gilroy,CA

  2. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for all the effort you’ve put into your daily postings. They’re a must-read for me every day. I’m impressed that you even post on the weekend. I’m about to turn 73 and have been an audiophile since I got my first Bugs Bunny and Gene Autry records for Christmas; so I’m well-acquainted with the advances made in sound recording and reproduction over the past 70 years. You’re right on the mark with your work and I hope that you get to keep it up for a long time.

  3. Congratulations on the first year. I’ve only recently come across your site but have greatly enjoyed reading your posts and expanding my knowledge…

  4. I would tend to agree with you Mark, the hardware for playback of HD quality is available in players like Astell & Kern and Fiio among others. A significant limitation I feel is improper mastering of the projects that negates any benefit from recordings with significant dynamic range and frequency response.

    Though it should be acknowledged that HD mobile products still have a relatively limited market share, with most players being sold having low quality components that make HD audio files sound awful. So from this perspective, having a device like Pono, which has grabbed the media’s attention may spur companies that make mobile devices to incorporate high quality DACs and amplifiers into their product lines. A bit wishful thinking perhaps.

  5. Well Mark, I am not so sure that, “The Pono player is undoubtedly an impressive piece of audio engineering.” Most likely, it is a bunch of off the shelf stuff that will be assembled to meet a price point. Until any of us try it, we have no way of knowing if it will even be as good as plain iPod Classic or any number of other knock off devices. After all, we can run Apple Lossless or FLAC files, respectively, on those. The shape alone of the device is suspect; who will walk around with something the size and shape of a large Toblerone bar in their pocket? I am not sure that we are about to witness anything more than the launch of the “New Zune”. I am sure they will be ably assisted in the launch by the legions of Caleb Denisons out there who will believe anything they are told that comes from a celebrity, but in the end, they will have to sell a lot of the things and move a lot of files on the website to make any money. It will not be as easy as it seems– how many aging baby boomers are really going to buy these things after all and why would young people care about Neil Young backing it. I think the whole business plan beggars belief. Young is obviously not a business fool– he has used a kickstart campaign so that he can invest other people’s money!

    • The folks behind the design at Ayre Acoustics…and they know what their stuff. The shape is suspect but I’ll withhold judgement until I get to hear my stuff in a Pono.

  6. Happy Birthday dear Audio Guru. I enjoy every line.

  7. Congratulations, Mark, on a significant milestone for a significant achievement. Your blog is the best thing to happen to audio writing in 30 years. I think your well reasoned position on quality is exciting a lot of people and gives us something tangible to strive towards in procuring high quality music and high quality playback. Ultimately you are improving the entire chain of recorded music and that will be a big win for all involved. If you succeed, there will no longer be a need for a blog. Until that day arrives, best wishes for continued success in helping the world understand the next step in recorded music.

  8. Happy anniversary! Love the work and posts. Long may they continue

    • Thanks very much.

  9. Mark wrote:

    “But no matter how good the DAC or the headphone/playback amplifier, it’s still a case of “garbage in equals garbage out”

    To paraphrase the late Ivor Tiefenbrun of Linn Audio fame who quoted the famous garbage in garbage out (GIGO) terminology in computer science and used to promote the LP12 turntable in the early 1980s.

    Credit where it’s due I think.

    • Thanks…I honestly didn’t know where it came from.

  10. Mark, I enjoy reading your daily comments.
    Today I listened to The Beatles ‘Love’
    DVD-Audio, multi-channel 5.1.
    I’m still confused as to whether or not you
    consider this medium to be High Resolution
    Audio. This particular DVD-Audio is 96/24
    according to it’s specifications. Are all DVD-
    Audios the same?
    …Peter – Ontario, Canada

    • I received this album from one of my sons a couple of years ago. I actually went back to the studio and listened on Christmas afternoon for several hours…it’s an amazing piece of work. This album, as great as it is, would not be considered HD because the original source recordings were done on analog tape. Not all DVD-Audios are the same…with regards to their provenance.

  11. If the email saying the downloads were ‘pretty good’ was from a Brit, then it really means ‘very very good’ and should be taken as high praise indeed!

    Thank you for your sanity and insights in a world of snake oil salesman.

    James – UK

    • Thanks James…very funny.

  12. Your daily emails have put some sanity back into the audiophile discussion. My son is a daily reader of another website and frequently asks me whether some claim is true or not. I do my best to answer and then point him over here.

    Congratulations, Mark. Keep up the good work. PS – I am glad that I got this posted before the second year anniversary.

  13. Congratulations, Dr. Waldrep.

    I’ve learned a lot from reading your daily posts. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Allan…it does take a chunk of time but I do enjoy sharing.

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