Dr. AIX's POSTS — 04 June 2014

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Tim Cook and the team at Apple are in the midst of their annual WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) in San Francisco. The opening address was streamed on Monday of this week and featured a number of announcements. Among them was the new Mac “Yosemite” operating system, the new iOS 8 system for all “i” devices and a new addition to the programmers toolkit called “Swift”.

Noticeably absent from the presentation was any mention of high-resolution music or any changes happening to the iTunes web site. They did make a phone call to Dr. Dre and the big announcement about Apple’s acquisition of Beats dominated tech news. Still the move up to HRA that some anticipated would coincide with the WWDC week didn’t occur.

The new “remastered” Led Zeppelin albums are available on HDtracks. I would be very interested in running the spectral analysis on a few of the tracks, although I just can’t justify purchasing anything from HDtracks. They’ve gotten enough of my money over the years. If someone does acquire those files and wouldn’t mind chopping a couple of 30” chunks out of them and sending them to me…I’d be happy to report my findings. Given the “provenance” of these albums, I would be surprised to find the fidelity improved over previous versions. They may sound somewhat different because of Jimmy Page’s involvement and new state of the art tools, but the actual sonics are locked at the time of the original recording.

The next opportunity for Apple to reveal any plans to support high-resolution audio will have to wait until their September event. There are already rumors about the iPhone 6 but I have yet to hear or read anything about support for 192 kHz/24-bit PCM audio. I wouldn’t be surprised given the current “buzz” and the moves that Samsung and HTC have made in that area.

As I write this, I’m at 35,000 feet winging my way to Boston for my son’s graduation and for a few days of relaxation on Cape Cod (Not to worry, I will still be posting everyday…it’s become part of my daily routine). I charged up the HTC One M8 Harman Kardon phone last evening and am enjoying Patrice Rushen playing from the AIX recording “Piano, Bass and Drums” from 2001. It sounds amazing…and I’m using the Harman Kardon ear buds that came with the phone! I feel like my audiophile credentials are fraying at the edges when I talk about listening to music using a cell phone and ear buds, but I can assure you that this experience bears not resemblance to the iPod and cheap hard ear buds of yesteryear. Kudos to HK, Sprint and HTC…this is impressive.

If a Smartphone costing $400 can produce fidelity that equals or even exceeds the likes of Astell & Kern, Colorfly, Fiio X5, Geek Wave and Pono AND provide all of the additional capabilities that a Smartphone provides, competition among these companies is going to be more challenging.

But I’m spoiled. I’ve got over 50 AIX Records tracks loaded on my HTC One phone…and these are the real deal. Of course, I’m biased but with strains of Laurence Juber playing “Strawberry Fields” in DADGAD guitar tuning playing in my head…I’m in sonic heaven.

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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.

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