Dr. AIX's POSTS — 05 October 2014

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It’s getting to be a tradition when my wife and I can count five trips to the Grand Rapids, Michigan area in the last several years. Between a couple of weddings and something called ArtPrize weekend, we’ve enjoyed our time in the western part of my home state with a very close group of friends…guys that I’ve know since high school and even earlier. It’s a weekend of eating, drinking, reminiscing, and coming to terms with the fact that we’re not 20, 30, 40, or 50 anymore. Time has taken its toll but this particular group has shared a lot of life together. I feel very blessed.

There’s my closest friend Stubby, a newly retired ex-engineer for GM that spends his free time catering to an overly dependent dog and a garage full of cars in various states of restoration. There a ’65 convertible Corvette, a Formula Atlantic race car that has been in pieces for 20 years, and the most recent addition and next project…a completely rusted out 70’s Triumph 250. Stubby is not a media guy. His television is flat but the cable feeding it is limited to standard definition. I “fixed” the aspect ratio on his kitchen TV (I just couldn’t deal the stretched out images and people) only to have him insist that I shrunk the picture and had to put it back. I did. Stubby is not a guy that worries about his consumption of audio or video. Talking about 5.1 surround of HD-Audio brings only yawns and polite nods.

Then there’s the good doctor Jim and his lovely wife Kate. They just recently moved into a lovely post kids sized house (although I think it’s actually larger than the house they sold) and have systematically been painting and redoing the place. We had dinner on Wednesday evening at their place. While we sat in the living room Kate connected her new iPhone 6 wirelessly to the sound bar under the flat screen above the mantle and streamed classical music in the background. Dr. Jim and Kate are media aware, technology savvy, and are completely content with their sound bar. Ignorance is bliss.

Gary is a lawyer that lives in Traverse City, Michigan. He and I have known each other since kindergarten. We’ve heli-skiied together, golfed, played cards and sailed the Caribbean. He and I got talking about Sonos because he’s moving into a new house and wants to distribute music throughout the place. But the quote he got from the Sonos people topped $10K, not a casual purchase for anyone in my group of friends. I suggest a couple of options that might save him some dollars. He’s knows about Spotify and Pandora but wasn’t aware of the high-resolution audio initiative.

Then there’s the local GR resident Chirc, a big shot hospital administrator who showed us pictures of his new place, which includes a bona fide home theater. All of the equipment in three racks comes with the home. He didn’t have a list of the gear but it looks pretty state-of-the-art. It’s equipped with 8 D-Box chairs, the ones that can shake you around in sync with the action on the screen. Next year we’ll convene at Chirc’s house and check it out. There’s a real opportunity at Marc and Karen’s house.

We had a really terrific weekend. And if this group is at all typical…high-resolution audio is going to remain a niche market.

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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. Hey Guys,
    Mark’s little stories about his visits with each of his friends speak volumes about the state of HD Audio – High Resolution Audio. I really like them stories. Yes, indeed, HRA is really a niche market. But that is fine with me. There should always be people searching for the best in things. They explore putting possibilities into reality. From there some things really catch on. But this always pressing the boundaries helps move things forward. We need cutting edge folk, developers & consumers, to grow each of our cherished human endeavors.
    Dad.

  2. Among my non-audiophile friends and acquaintances, many have a music listening style similar to your friends Jim and Kate. This group likes to listen to music passively while doing other things and more often than not in the background and at low volumes. They are generally content with average sound and show little inclination to seek out higher quality sound for their homes.

    Those who have seen my high resolution system invariably ask just one question, “How much did you pay for those speakers?” As Walter Cronkite used to say, “And that’s the way it is…..”

    Phil C

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