AUDIO SHOWS Dr. AIX's POSTS — 04 January 2015


I’ve spent today packing for the International 2015 CES Show. There’s a whole checklist of things to identify, locate, and layout on the floor prior to packing. Most times I’ll actually assemble the entire system just to make sure that I have everything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to a trade event and lacked some connector, power supply or special cable.

Then you have to worry about the logistics when you get to the event. Will the show organizers have my badges ready, will the two tables that I ordered for my booth be there when I arrive etc. I’ve had mixed luck with the CES Show. Last year, the first year of the HRA Techzone”, the organizers tried to sell everybody at $6000 booth…no alternatives were offered. However, because one of the other presenters…and friend of mine…told me he was bringing his own booth, I was able to opt out of the expensive booth. The expensive booth was still set up in the space when I arrived. We’ll see how this year goes.

The gear that I’ve gathered together and packed into cases consists of an Oppo BDP-83 (I’ll use the digital output with an inexpensive cable), a Samsung flat panel display, Benchmark DAC2 (still the best DAC on the planet as far as I’m concerned), the Oppo HA-1 headphones amp, and a couple of pairs of Oppo PM-1 phones. I’ll be playing my content from Blu-ray discs (I had hoped to get a temp BD-R done in time…but things continue to be challenging on that front) and DVD-Audio/Video discs. I’ve purchased a new banner and will have some post cards promoting the HRAPlanet website as well as this one.

What else do I expect to see at the show? After all it is the biggest convention each year and everyone loves gadgets…including me. There will be lots of high-resolution portable players from the big manufacturers and the specialty folks like Pono and Astell & Kern. I’m honestly surprised that Pono opted out of taking a booth in the HRA Marketplace like the rest of us. It seems to me that this would have been the perfect place to inform, demonstrate, and hype their whole program. I guess when you can get an entire session dedicated to just you AND a public interview with Rolling Stone at the main convention center hall, you don’t need to mix with the HRA riff raff.

There will undoubtedly be a lot of promotional hype around high-resolution audio. I won’t be surprised to see the JAS logo on lots of gear from Sony, Teac, Onkyo, Denon, and Yamaha. It’s really not that hard to ensure that you electronics can handle all of the formats and maintain high-resolution signal integrity. When it comes to speakers, things get a lot tougher. Although, the inexpensive Sony speakers used at the recent research study claimed a frequency response to 40 kHz…convenient since that the minimum specification for the new logo.

If you’re planning on being at the show this next week…please come by the AIX Records/iTrax booth. I’ll be there from Tuesday through Friday talking to anyone that wanders by. And I’ll be reporting on the day’s sessions and events in the HRA Markteplace ballroom.

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About Author


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 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.

(14) Readers Comments

  1. Have a great time which you much success, safe traveling!

  2. Hello Mark,
    let’s have a hope that it will be possible for you to meet Bob Stuart and discuss with him the Meridian MQA.
    Your report about the Explorer 2 MQA would be very interesting, too !

    • I’m surprised that Robert hasn’t called me. I’m sure he’s crazy busy with CES and the MQA thing. I’ll reach out to him.

  3. You mentioned a number of times that the Benchmark DAC2 is the best in the world. Could you elaborate on this a bit further: why, and what comparisons with other DACs (and which DACs) were made to come to this conclusion: Thanks.

    • I’ve done a lot of critical listening in my studio and the other studios that are in the building here. I’ve had the chance to listen to Berkeley Audio Designs, Lavry, Light Harmonic, Schiit, Oppo, and others. They are all great pieces of equipment, but the Benchmark is singularly appealing at least for me.

  4. Good luck Mark, hope the show is successful for you.

  5. Any DAC makes sound worse. That’s why the truly digital amplifier would perform lot better.

    The 2.5MHz/16-bit CD audio format is already delivering outstanding transparency & all the low-level detail including that you can clearly hear a singer’s breath, so why bother with expensive equipment ?

    Just in accordance with SLA graph, even 20MHz sampling is too far from original impulse response, which means that sampling rates of petahertz region are extremely necessary to approach as close as really possible !

    Any currently planned “HD audio” format will be useless unless it goes up to a very high sampling frequency {that eventually eliminates the filter} & refuses from binary sample.

    • Another comment that goes against my thoughts. 96 kHz/24-bit is more than enough.

  6. Enough for what? 96 kHz/24-bit doesn’t even present an opportunity to discard the filter!

    Most importantly, there is a ~ 50 GHz ADC which appears to be the sole chance to bring digital music to a decent condition: fidelity is all about impulse response time !!!

    Even professional master tape fails at reproducing original timing transients, not to mention 96 kHz!

  7. What is booth location at CES?

    • I’m sorry for the late reply…been unable to get to the Admin of the site for the last day. I’m in the Venetian Hotel, Bellini 201. Location 76002.

  8. I continue to enjoy the education you provide regarding high-resolution audio. A subject I thought I was somewhat familiar with but have learned to unlearn, as Yoda once said. I am retraining my ears to Golden ears.
    I am posting the link below, as there is another website that has a large following and he too, touched on the subject of HD audio, in particular the Pono. Thought you might like to give it a read. Its fairly short but I would like your take on it, if you get the opportunity.

    Please continue during 2015 to educate the public. I find I want to continue my personal education from a
    “Professor” who knows, who passionately cares, and who passionately cares that we care. I like that>

    • I’m not completely on board with the comments by Mr Hunt. I’ll write more when I have a moment.

  9. Have a great show!

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