Dr. AIX's POSTS — 19 January 2015


As a member of the NARAS organization, I get access to the annual NAMM Show coming up next weekend in Anaheim, California…you know where Disneyland is located. NAMM stands for the National Association of Music Merchants. The companies that exhibit at this show range from small companies that produce exotic Plug In software for you ProTools DAW, to mom and pop outfits that make custom guitar straps, to the big guys Gibson and Fender. I have never seen such a diverse group of people attend any event. There are the Midwest music companies dressed in suits trying to sell marching band instruments to schools one row over from the percussion and drum section populated by the “rocker” image. As you move from one “instrumental” group to another the volume changes, the people change, and the costumes change…it’s really very overwhelming.

I go as much to see people that I don’t see that often. Moving through the aisles, I’m likely to run into Albert Lee, Alan Parsons, Laurence Juber, or Carl Verheyen. We stop for a few moments and catch up. These celebrities are their working the booths of the their sponsors. I watched Albert play for about an hour last year in the Ernie Ball booth. His band was all pre-recorded but he was tearing it up just like he always does.

The NAMM show is loud. This is especially true in the drum section. Everyone is encouraged to sit down and beat the drums until they can’t play anymore. It’s not a competition to see who’s the fastest or most imaginative player…it all comes down to who can hit them the hardest. There are young kids as well as oldsters hammering out the big beat. And it’s crowded. A friend wrote me back and said I should stay away if I’m recovering from the lung thing I picked up in Vegas…she called this coming weekend’s event NAMMthrax because so many people get sick being in close proximity to so many other marginally sick people. I’ll see how I feel by the weekend. I still have to make it through the week…and the university semester starts tomorrow.

I thought about calling in sick…something I don’t think I’ve done in 25 years of teaching. But it’s the first day of class. I’m starting another 15 weeks on advanced digital audio (it’s really not that advanced but the students think it’s really hard). I may simply take attendance, pass out the tests from last term and call it quits; I’ll have to see how the drugs are working.

I noticed that Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records is holding a “high-resolution audio” session on Saturday afternoon. She’s got the right idea. The audience of engineers, musicians, and tech geeks is perfect. If there’s to be any chance at improving the fidelity of today’s commercial music releases, it has to start with the people making the recordings. And I doubt whether any of the thousands of people cruising the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center have ever heard real fidelity in a recording. It’s not on their radar nor should it be. They need to know how to make their records punchy, loud, and big…not dynamic and clean.

But there’s till hope that someone will be inspired and begin to realize that recording high-resolution audio projects doesn’t mean simply turning up the sample rate to 96 or 192 kHz.

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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 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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