Dr. AIX's POSTS — 22 July 2014

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I received the Blue Coast Records newsletter the other day and followed a link to one of Cookie Marenco’s latest samplers. Since I’m in the midst of preparing a collaborative sampler of my own, I thought I would do a little research on the samplers offered by other small audiophile labels. I wanted to know how many tracks are typically included, how long they are and what they cost. I also looked at the latest Linn Records “Super Audio Collection Vol. 7”. The contrast of philosophies between these two companies could not have been greater.

I purchased the Linn Records Vol. 7 sampler in 192 kHz/24-bit PCM format (which is the native ‘master’ recording format). They offer the sampler in a variety of formats from a physical CD to “Studio Master (192) files. The Super Audio Collection Vol. 7 contains 18 full-length tracks from their extensive catalog. These are new recordings from second tier artists (I don’t mean that they aren’t terrific performers…just that they aren’t huge celebrities…much like my own artists). The cost was $10.

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Figure 1 – A section of the web page at Linn Records showing the options and costs of their sampler.

Then I went to Blue Coast Records to check out “Blue Coast Collection 2”, which is a collection of 12 tunes of various artists. This product is available in a number of formats as well. You can get a CD spec version (44.1 kHz/16-bit PCM burned on a 24k Gold CD-R instead of a replicated Redbook disc), a 44.1 WAV, 96 kHz WAV or a DSD 64 in DSF or DFF format. You can also purchase an SACD. But that’s where the similarity ends. As you click the format choices, the prices and the colored buttons change. See the graphic below:

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Figure 2 – Blue Coast Records website page for their sampler. Notice the pricing model.

Cookie Marenco believes in premium pricing. She was interviewed on NPR (I was part of that piece) because she charges up to $5.00 for a single song…and they can be as short as two and half minutes! At the DSD 64 level, you’ll pay $50.00 for just under 60 minutes of music. I didn’t purchase the BCR Sampler.

I have to question the philosophy behind such extravagant pricing…and apparently others have too. Here’s a quote from the newsletter:

“Some of you have been curious about how we price our music. For the last 6 months we’ve been offering a SUPER SPECIAL discount for new music on first launch. The discount lasts through two weekends. This is the best way we can reward our most loyal music lovers.

Then we go to a MID DISCOUNT pricing for another two weeks. Still a great value. The following two weeks the pricing shows as full price but we offer our members a 20% rebate when forwarding the Paypal receipt. Rebates continue until the music slows in sales. We have also begun a “Featured Music Month” where the rebates are offered.

We hope this pricing model works for those on a budget and those who want to better support our activities.”

So the 20% discount reduces the price down $40.00 for the album in DSD. I can appreciate paying more for great recordings…and Cookie and Blue Coast do make very good tracks. But ALL of the various formats are derived from the same analog tape master, which has less potential fidelity than any of the delivery formats she offers. If these were sourced as DXD files like 2L in Norway, maybe I would feel differently about the very high prices.

The new downloadable sampler from AIX Records will have 18 full length tracks and be available as a 96 kHz/24-bit PCM WAV or FLAC file. It will be priced at $11.00 and come with a PDF booklet.

My 41-track Blu-ray HD-Audio Sampler 2013 with three different mixes and HD-Video of every track can be purchased at the AIX Records site for $25.00. I know the quality of my tracks and I want people to experience them. In fact, I give the sampler away for free with any purchase of $50 or more.

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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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