Dr. AIX's POSTS — 29 September 2014

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Late on Saturday afternoon, Mike Mettler and Michal Jurewicz of Mytek introduced me to Ryan Ulyate. He’s an audio engineer/producer and recently completed work on the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Hypnotic Eye” album. This new release is somewhat unique in that Tom and his label, Reprise, are making available a CD version as well as a Blu-ray Audio Disc. Ryan recorded and mixed both the stereo and surround version of the 11 tracks. Michal walked him over to my table to show him the Smyth Realiser that I allows bring with me to trade shows.

The Smyth Realiser allows users to experience the sound of my 5.1 surround studio through standard headphones. I’ve written previously about this very unique process (it captures a personal set of directional filter settings in combination with a variable head tracker to simulate a specific listening environment). Unfortunately do to operator error, I was unable to get the device properly dialed in while Ryan was standing there (I rectified the situation after a quick phone call to Lorr Kramer, the Smyth Realiser guru) but that time Ryan and Mike had moved upstairs to the Alta Audio room to audition the CD version of the album.

After I wrapped up things are the table, I headed up to the third floor and found a seat in the rear of the Alta Audio room. The Tom Petty record was already playing…at a very healthy level…through a couple of tower speakers with 8 large traditional drivers and 4 ribbon tweeters. There was a copy of the Blu-ray disc sitting on the table by my seat and I picked it up and read the producer’s note with interest.

It reads:

“With this disc you are able to hear at home what we hear in the studio. This disc contains all 12 tracks from “Hypnotic Eye” in high-resolution 48 k 24-bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound. This is an audio-only disc, with basic navigation and song information displayed on the screen. The audio on this disc has 256 times more resolution than a CD, providing greater detail and reproduction the music’s full dynamic range, from the softest to the loudest sounds. The screen saver switches song information to non-static images of the art 30 seconds after each song begins. Thank you for caring enough to invest in high quality sound.”

The sound in the Alta Audio room was everything that you would expect from a good sounding rock recording. The drums, bass and low end were intense, punchy, solid and intense. The mid range is full of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers signature guitars and a rather heavy sounding snare drum. I prefer my snare drum sound with a little more “crack” to it…but the sound of the midrange was overall a little too predominant and seemed to cover up the lead vocal a bit much for my taste. I mentioned this to Ryan and he suggested that I was missing some of the sound from the ribbon tweeters so I will reserve judgment until I get a chance to listen to the disc in my studio. The high-end was not quite didn’t sparkle as much as I’m used to…but again, let me report back after I’ve heard the disc on my system.

Continued…

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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. I know for a fact that TPH’s studio is all tape, analog board, old school. So whatever they are transferring to higher bit rate format is very limited. TP himself is notable for his dislike of digital anything.
    IMO, the mix and overall sound quality of this record is poor, reflecting their philosophy of wanting the record to sound like their early recordings from the 1970s.

    • The engineer that recorded and mixed this record tells me different. He worked on Pro Tools.

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