Dr. AIX's POSTS — 02 November 2014

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It was cold yesterday on day 2 of the TAVES Show. As I exited the apartment, there were actually flakes of snow falling from the overcast skies. The season starts early here in Canada…and I forgot to bring my winter coat or more accurately a coat period. I have a jacket in the back of my car but as I kissed my wife goodbye and got a last hug from Charlie, the new puppy, it was 89 degrees. My brain and body didn’t register that only 5 hours later I would be confronting winter. I messed up. However, this morning the sky is clear and bright blue as I write this last post from Toronto. That probably means it’s colder than ever.

Saturday is always the best day for traffic at audio trade events. My sales tables are located at the bottom of the stairs just as attendees begin their trek through the halls and floors of demo rooms. I couldn’t be happier as many hundreds of people stopped by and checked out the products that I had spread across the table. I especially enjoyed meeting some of you readers in person…and there were many individuals that made a special effort to attend the show just because I was there. One gentleman read a post that mentioned I would be at the TAVES Show and changed his plans to stay overnight in Toronto rather than return to his home about an hour away. He checked his Sheraton rewards points and stayed at the hotel in order to come by yesterday and attend the show.

Another group already knows about AIX Records. They may have purchased some titles in previous years and are on the hunt for new releases. Sadly, I haven’t recorded a new product in a number of years (it’s very expensive and time consuming…things are definitely slowing down). But these folks do manage to find something that sounds interesting and gladly pick up a new disc or two.

And then there are the tire kickers. After 15 years, I honestly surprised at the number of people that haven’t ever heard of AIX Records. I’m not saying that the mass population knows the name but among audiophiles, I would think we’re a known brand. I explain what I do, encourage them to take a listen, and cajole them into purchasing the Blu-ray sampler disc. There’s nothing like getting a couple of dozen real high-resolution tracks playing through your own system to convince you that AIX is doing something unusual and of very high quality.

The traffic was heavy and consistent all day. I didn’t get a chance to explore other parts of the show so I can’t really share much about the other rooms and systems. I did learn that virtually all of the rooms were playing standard resolution sources such as CDs and vinyl LPs rather than high-resolution files or Blu-rays. Apparently, there was one surround room…but that was really a home theater and therefore doesn’t count in the eyes of an audiophile. No one came up to me about a “must hear” room in the towers of the hotel.

On my way to my to the 4th floor seminar room at 5 pm yesterday, I did poke my head into a few rooms. What I heard was pretty much the same “high-end” sound system…a couple of expensive speakers attached to a couple of large monoblock amplifiers via some very heavy gauge wires playing Diana Krall or Pink Floyd.

I gave another rendition of my “2014: Is This The Year Of High-Resolution Audio” to a packed house late yesterday afternoon. After an hour of explanations, definitions, and charts/graphs, the answer to that question is decidedly no. There is a major effort to convince the audiophiles and even the avid music fan that high-resolution audio abounds, but the reality is a different story. There is very little real high-resolution audio available…probably less than 1000 albums. There are about 4000 transfers of older analog masters to high-resolution containers (still standard definition fidelity). And the rest…maybe 35 millions tracks…are standard resolution CD specification quality. The names may change but the fidelity doesn’t.

I’m only at the show for a few hours today…I have to drive back to Buffalo, board a plane for Los Angeles, and get up early tomorrow to teach at the university. Another fun weekend in audiophileland.

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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.

(9) Readers Comments

  1. Mark,

    Copies of the November 2014 stereophile magazine were handed out at the event. There is an article on Norman Chesky and HDtracks (starting on page 71). Norman’s definition of “hi-rez audio” may differ from yours but he is very positive about the industry segment; saying there is demand and that the recording industry agrees.

    I don’t follow the “hi-rez audio” issues too closely and you may have already addressed why his experiences may be different from yours but if you have not, and want to, please do.

    • Norman and David Chesky are friends and I support their HDtracks website. However, I recognize that they are providing “master quality” recordings of older analog master that the major labels and others are making available as fresh transfers. They are hyped as high-resolution audio tracks but virtually all of them are standard resolution. Some sound great and others are indistinguishable from the existing masters.

  2. As a classical music listener, I’m lucky in that there are more new high-resolution albums released each week than I can afford to buy.

  3. Last night I was searching Deezer for something modern and lively, and tried Laura Gibson’s Little Red Riding Hood. What a great example of what you’ve been preaching about lack of dynamic range! What could have been an interesting production, sort of, succeeded in turning $6,000 worth of audio gear into loud cheap earbuds.

    Have you researched Titan at all? Not available in Canada yet, although I may try it through a VPN connection…

    Keep up your daily updates, I’ve learned a lot! Love your introduction of “provenance” to my audio vocabulary.

    Brault…

    • I will have to look into Titan. I don’t know anything about it.

  4. Sorry I guess I missed you this year! Was looking forward to picking up a couple of new disks but by Sunday afternoon, I think you’d left. Maybe next year.

    • I’m sorry as well. There wasn’t a lot left on Sunday afternoon and I had to pack up early to make it to a flight out of Buffalo. If you see products on the website that you would like…I’ll pick up the shipping cost to Canada. Just let me know.

  5. 30 degrees Celcius here in Melbourne, Australia Mark, or 86 degrees in your language.
    I say this only in retribution over a comment made by you in your summer about “your Australian readers”.
    I post this in humour, even though it is as cold as a mother in laws kiss where you are, I wish you well and happy listening.

    • Thanks Warren…it was nice to get back to Los Angeles. I think the weather here is just about perfect.

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