Blu-ray Dr. AIX's POSTS HD-AUDIO — 23 August 2015

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I’ve been working on the script to the pitch video that I have to produce for the upcoming Kickstarter campaign. My first draft is too long but as I read what I’m planning for the Blu-ray disc, it dawned on me just how cool this special disc will be. The capabilities and flexibility of the Blu-ray format make it the perfect media type to evaluate and demonstrate some of the things audiophile care about. Things are virtually impossible to compare using a traditional home media system. Just how possible is it to compare audio formats using your own system? For example, can you instantly switch between a 128 kbps MP3 file and the same file at the same moment in the song at 96 kHz/24-bits? It’s a real challenge unless you have specialized equipment.

Here’s some of the things that I’m planning on placing on the disc that will accompany the “Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Audio” book:

1. There will be at least 12 tunes from the AIX Records catalog. If you have selections that you feel are “must includes” for the demo disc, please feel free to let me know. You can send me an email or simply post a comment here. The tunes on the disc should reflect a diversity of styles, ensemble size, tonal colors, vocal vs. instrumental tunes, and pieces that can easily show off flaws in a system. I guess I should start a poll to establish the final list. If you look at the list on the iTrax – Sprint Ultra High-Definition Sampler, you can get a pretty good idea of what I would like to include.

2. Each of the tunes will have three different mixes: traditional stereo, 5.1 “Stage” mix, and 5.1 “Audience” mixes. Using the AUDIO button the remote, users of the disc equipped with a home theater surround audio system will be able to instantly switch between the mixes. The hope is that by comparing the same tune in different mixes at the same volume level, the benefits of surround music will become obvious. As Robert Harley says in his book, “…multichannel audio is a quantum leap forward in advancing the music listening experience – with a properly set-up system playing recordings made with musical sensitivity.” Too bad he follows a very narrow mixing aesthetic. He doesn’t like my “stage” perspective mixes.

3. How about being able to listen to and compare a variety of formats and resolutions on the fly? This is something that is quite difficult to do at home…but I’ll have examples of MP3 files at 128, 256, and 320 kbps, CD spec audio, and 96 kHz / 24-bit PCM. Maybe I could include FLAC vs. WAV. Once again using the AUDIO button your remote control, you will be able to listen to examples at these different resolutions and compare them. Maybe you’ll find that your system isn’t up to the high-resolution audio standard.

4. The Blu-ray will also include comparisons between tracks that have been heavily compressed during a mastering stage and the original unmastered mixes. Switching between them makes the audible differences very obvious.

5. There will be a complete set of test tones with detailed instructions as well as the previously described music examples and comparisons. Test your system with channel ID tones, phase and crossover tests, and frequency sweeps in a variety of formats. As the owner of all of the content on the Blu-ray demonstration disc, you can be sure that I’ll be able to deliver the project on time without having to worry about licenses from other labels.

6. Want to be able to compare a “headphone” surround mix vs. a traditional stereo mix? The accompanying disc will have a few tunes that will allow users to listen and compare. Is this the next big disruption in the way we listen to music? You be the judge.

I’m open to any and all suggestions for this disc. Just tell me what you want and I’ll do my best to include it on the disc.

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To learn more about the “Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound”, the Blu-ray disc, and to sign up for advance notification of the Kickstarter launch, please visit:

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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.

(15) Readers Comments

  1. Mark, a number of weeks ago I asked for your thoughts about the new DTS X Headphone format. You indicated that you were just about to try the format out with the help of one of your colleagues. Does it make sense to include one of your tracks in DTS Headphone X on your proposed “Music and Audio: A Users Guide to Better Sound?

    • We have done some work with Headphones X…and their model doesn’t really work. I’ll write a post on this very soon.

  2. Dear Mark,

    Mujaka from the Latin Jazz Trio is a mandatory inclusion at your new Blu-Ray disc annexed to the book.

    • Mujaka is definitely on the list.

  3. Dear Mark,

    Regarding the previous post on DTS: X, why did the proposed system work perfectly at the DTS CES booth during 2014 an 2015 demonstrations and does not function well listening the recorded samples at our headphone environment, even using headphones of highest quality? At DTS CES booth we could identify perfectly the separation over every channel and that doesn’t happen in our listening experience at home. It came to me as a surprise and got me a sense of frustration with the system.

    • I’ve heard things this way as well…the whole model to DTS:X including the need for a custom player is not going to work.

  4. This Blu-Ray disc is going to be an absolute delight. I often attempt to explain differences in format, mixes or audio compression to friends and I am never sure they get exactly what I mean. With this recording, they will be able to hear these differences.

    Of course my understanding is limited so perhaps you can include some more comparisons on this upcoming Blu-Ray.

    I love concerts on Blu-Ray and DVD. Most of them have an audio choice in the set-up menu: Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio for Blu-Rays and Dolby Digital or DTS for DVDs. On some concerts, one sounds better than the other, but not always the same competing codec. Is there a way to show the difference so one could adjust his/her playback surround system? Or is a listening test of the soundtrack of each production the only way to find out which setting is better?

    One other control that I do not seem to set up with optimal rendering (my ears are getting old): The “ControlQ” on my subwoofers. Could your Blu-Ray disc show the difference between a bad adjustment and optimized adjustment?

    Hoping this is useful for other amateurs.

    Édouard Trépanier

  5. I don’t understand the tech involved in the bluray recording of 24/96. Would the use of DTS MA or Dolby TrueHD be involved?
    Don’t know if I can justify my feelings, but on movies DTS MA encoded films seem to have a superior SQ.

    • The audio segments will be encoded at Dolby TrueHD or PCM. I guess I could include DTS HD Master Audio files too for comparison, but they should be exactly the same as the Dolby files…after all we’re talking about lossless encoding.

  6. Hey Mark,
    Any track from Laurence Juber’s Guitar Noir and “Is It True What They Say About Dixie?” from the Fred Sokolow disc with Junior Brown please. 🙂

    • Carlo…I’m not at all surprised by the recommendation for a track from LJ’s “Guitar Noir” but I’m never had anyone mentioned the Fred Sololow disc with Junior Brown. I think Junior is one of the best performers in his genre and I absolutely love his guitar/pedal steel instrument. When I get ready to take products to trade shows, sometimes I don’t even take Fred’s discs…no one knows who he is. Although, I did sell one at the CAS6 show.

      • That’s funny. I’ve been a big Junior Brown fan for years. Saw him and his band live at The Roxy in West Hollywood in 2001. Just an amazing performer. It was just by chance that I saw Junior’s name listed as a musician on one of your discs with this Fred Sokolow guy, who I’d never heard of before. A quick Youtube search on Fred brought up a bunch of videos with him performing and after watching a few I was sold! The interplay with both they’re vocals and guitar styles on your recording is just great. On a really good pair of speakers or surround system, that track particularly “pops.”

        • I saw him at the Key Club years ago as well. Very cool.

  7. comparing “Audio formats on the Fly” sounds and seems suspiciously similar to The PONO “REVEALER” ?

    http://www.ponosucks.com

    • Comparing audio formats by switching seamlessly between is a very good way to judge audio fidelity and test whether you can perceive differences. The alternatives are less viable.

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