Dr. AIX's POSTS — 10 October 2014

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Last evening, a couple of my new tenants held an open house at the studio. It was a party to celebrate their move to my building and to show off their room and their capabilities to a group of young producers, songwriters, and friends. The two guys are both highly motivated, talented, and graduates of the Berkley School of Music in Boston. I’ve been very impressed by their energy, their attention to detail, their knowledge, and their very pleasant attitudes. I’m sure they’re going to succeed in the music business…and I’m going to try and help them.

Among the people at the event last evening were some of their former faculty members from the Berklee School. It’s AES weekend and they’ve all come to Los Angeles to check out the latest gear, visit with students, enjoy another party at the Village for Berklee graduates, and to present papers at the convention. I met four or five of the group last evening. Years ago I gave a presentation at Berklee and had a piece of mine performed at an electronics music festival. It was performed by one of their faculty members. I haven’t been in touch with anyone at the school in over 15 years but thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the studio playing my Blu-ray HD-Audio 2013 sampler and watching their reactions to the tracks.

They were enchanted…and full of questions. They were particularly interested in my use of ORTF stereo pairs on a lot of the instruments. They notice a stereo pair of U-87 microphones on an acoustic bass and questioned why I employed stereo on the bass. “Don’t you experience a lot of phase cancellation?” they wanted to know. I explain my philosophy of recording depth using ORTF stereo pairs. A stereo pair captures the area of sound not the specific point source. When I played the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, they had even more questions. On the 146″ screen was an image of the quintet with 10 microphones positioned around the ensemble. Over the upper string players I used multiple XY pairs and ORTF pairs on the clarinet and cello.

These recording and production faculty were fighting for the choice seat right in the middle of the studio. From their reaction, I don’t any one of them had ever seen that type of miking used AND they had never heard that level of detail and intimacy from a classical recording. They mentioned that a colleague had once tried something similar but rejected the attempt because of phase issues and an “unfocused” sound. I assured them that it took a lot of trial and error to work out the problems, but that I had been using this technique for over 15 years.

Upon seeing and hearing the solo piano recording by Bryan Pezzone, they became intensely interested in checking out the microphone placement. They were uniformly complimentary about the sound and wanted to know where I place the mikes. I explained the use of two stereo pairs and why having them inside the instrument provides a sound that I prefer. Apparently, they preferred it as well…although they had never tried this technique.

As you would imagine, I was thrilled by their reaction and told them that I would be glad to come to Boston and present a session or two on my approach and the world of high-resolution audio. I polled a couple of the faculty about what they knew about HRA and was somewhat dismayed to get the usual “anything better than a CD” response. I shared the definition and the descriptors developed by the DEG, CEA, and NARAS with the group. Talking about analog sources and CD sources in higher spec PCM got them thinking.

If the faculty at recording and music production programs don’t have a thorough grasp and knowledge about HRA, how can we expect the next generation of engineers/producers to do the right things?

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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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