Dr. AIX's POSTS — 26 February 2015


It’s common at audio trade shows to bring some of your favorite albums or high-resolution tracks to audition using the equipment available in various vendors’ rooms. I certainly understand the motivation. After all, there are many dozens of rooms equipped with audio equipment at all price levels just waiting for you to enter and hear a system…and a sales pitch. Who wouldn’t want to hear a favorite track or files from a high-end system? But I personally don’t allow anything other than my own recording to be played in my demo room. Why?

There are several reasons why I don’t want other content played through a system that I’ve carefully selected, set up, and tweaked to sound wonderful. First, I’m not an equipment manufacturer. I did not design the gear that’s in my demo room and I don’t sell it. I strongly support the hardware that my partners have graciously supplied for the cause of high-resolution audio and I want their gear to be shown in the best possible light…and that means playing real HD-Audio tracks from my catalog. I would never presume that there aren’t plenty of other recordings recorded by like-minded high quality recording companies that would sound great as well. But think about it. I’ve spent time and money to pull together a dynamite room and don’t want to waste even one moment on recordings that might not live up to my standards.

The second reason is because you never know what some random customer is going to want to play? They might love to heard the latest metal release from Dillinger Escape Plan or perhaps they’ll tell you that they can only evaluate the quality of the speakers if the volume is turned way up. And you never know whether the recording is going to be any good…most commercial recordings aren’t going to meet my fidelity expectations and would therefore be disappointing to attendees that came specifically to my room to experience my high-resolution tracks.

I can remember a father and son coming in to my demo room in Montreal several years ago. The father told me that his son wanted to hear his band’s new CD on a great system and asked whether I would mind playing his CD-R. I did my very best to explain that I couldn’t spare any time playing anything other than my albums. There were potential customers in the room auditioning my stuff and I just didn’t feel it was a request that I could accommodate. I could see he was not happy about my refusal. He expressed his displeasure and became rather insistent. I reiterated my reasons for declining to play his son’s CD but I could see that he wasn’t going take no for an answer. Finally, I offered to play his CD after hours…when everyone had left. This seemed to satisfy him however they didn’t return at the end of the show to take me up on the offer.

I’ve read some comments on this topic where the person asking to have his or her album played was rebuffed. They swore that they would never purchase any of my recordings and would boycott the companies that shared their equipment. Audio show attendees need to realize that the vendors have spent a lot money and time to be there. And that they have carefully selected and prepared material that will best represent their products. It’s OK to express a preference for a particular style of music (I routinely do that…and can quickly go from a big band tune to solo guitar or male folk singer on my demo) but I think it’s asking a bit much to ask that your own CD be swapped for the regularly scheduled demos.

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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.

(6) Readers Comments

  1. It is a strange world we are living in!
    To me it is quite simple:
    You don’t sell or demo the gear in your room – you demo and sell your recordings.
    Should not be hard to understand!

  2. This falls squarely under the “sometimes people just need to lighten up” category. At every audio show I’ve ever been to, I’ve never once had the assumption that a equipment vendor or room host was obligated to play my music selections. After a polite inquiry, some would be fine with the idea and some not. It’s never been anything to get in a huff about.

  3. I have to disagree with your position here Mark. I would want a dealer at a show to have the confidence that his equipment will sound great with all kinds of music. When a manufacturer only limits listening to his selected music, I have to wonder if it is because using something else will show deficiencies he or she doesn’t want one to hear. Makes me less reluctant to consider their stuff.

    • Off premise since Mark is neither a harware dealer nor a manufacturer. Makes a difference doesn’t it?

  4. Completely understandable, your there to demo and sell your recordings, playing someone else music is a total waste of your time and the $ you spent to attend the show.

    But on the other hand if you were a dealer selling hardware equipment like speakers, amps, etc and wouldn’t play my copy of Mark Chesnutt – Your Room, PF – Dark Side of the Moon, or even Dillinger Escape Plan (LOL) I’m out of there and that dealer just lost a sale. I was in sales and know how to ask a few qualifiers to determine if the customer is really a potential buyer or just a tire kicker. But if you selling speakers and I’m a buyer and won’t let me hear my music, goodbye, you just told me your speakers aren’t up to anything besides chamber music. LOL

  5. Not really Nik, note I said dealer. I wouldn’t classify Mark as a dealer of equipment which is what i was referring to. I wouldn’t ask a seller of music to play music I brought to a show.

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