Dr. AIX's POSTS — 05 February 2015

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This is going to be difficult. I’m reaching out to potential partners for the upcoming AXPONA Show in April and am finding it difficult to identify a system that can achieve the level of performance that my high-resolution surround recording require. Yes, I’ve been demoing my Blu-ray discs at the AXPONA Show for years (the founder and I have been close friends for well over a decade) and I have always pulled together a system that John Atkinson called, “the best sounding room of the show”. However, when you get right down to the audiophile nitty gritty…I’ve never shown the true potential of a bona fide high-resolution system.

Last year, we had a great room but I was disappointed in the final presentation. There was a room tuning system that passed my stuff from analog back to digital and then back again at 48 kHz. The speakers were less than ideal because of their omnidirectional distribution patterns and weren’t identical. But oh well.

Getting near real world dynamic range and frequency response in a stereo playback system is not nearly as challenging.

The goal is to move well beyond the performance of a standard compact disc. We know that a 44.1 kHz/16-bit Redbook PCM audio stereo CD is capable of delivering fidelity up to 93 dB of signal to noise ratio and frequencies up to the Nyquist Frequency or 22 kHz. Compact Discs can deliver absolutely terrific sound. But real high-resolution audio moves the bar past CD spec and has the potential to deliver real world sound…sound the matches or exceeds the capabilities of our human ears and brain. That’s been my mantra for over 15 years.

I was amused during the David Pogue Pono review and “test” to see the participants talk about hearing “maybe a 5-10% difference” between the sound of high-resolution audio files and the same tune played at AAC 256 kbps. David dismissed the described level of difference as if 10% was negligible. How many of us would be dancing in the streets if we could get a 10% improvement in the sound of our systems? That’s a huge improvement! Think of all of the accessories, power cords, surface treatments, disc cutters, and the rest of the useless tweaks that pretend to move needle 1%, if at all, and claim the improvement in fidelity is “astounding”.

The system I need to pull together in Chicago at the AXPONA show has to be able to deliver dynamics up to 125 dB SNR through 5 channels. My options include configuring a HTPC using a Lynx card that can output the HDMI of my Blu-ray discs to the JVC projector AND output multiple S/P DIF digital connections to three Benchmark DAC2 HGCs to the new Benchmark AHB2 power amplifiers and then to a set of as yet undetermined speakers that will output efficiently up to 40 kHz. I’m planning on using the Oppo BDP-103 as the front end and take the S/P DIF out for the high-resolution stereo presentations but it gets tougher in the multichannel world because of the lack of HDMI inputs in digital preamps.

Wouldn’t it be great to actually have a high-resolution capable room at the AXPONA that does multichannel up to the elevated specs that I strive for? I’m open to suggestions…just drop me an email or leave a comment. The time is now to reach out to partners and get this solved.

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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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