Dr. AIX's POSTS — 01 November 2015

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Following the successful “Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound” Kickstarter campaign, I spent a little time looking at other campaigns and learning a bit about the KS world. It surprised me that last year only 43% of all campaigns launched on the site were successful…until I started looking at some of the projects that get launched and failed.

There was the gentleman that was looking for $120,000 to build a sort of Hip Hop church in Denver. His story was only three sentences long, he didn’t bother to produce a video, and he listed only a single reward. How much did he raise after 30 days? Nothing…zero dollars.

I was contacted by a young man looking for advice on how to succeed with a Kickstarter campaign. After a couple of failed attempts, he sees me as an expert. So he wrote an asked for my advice. I simply told him to prepare appropriately and consult others with experience. He recently launched another campaign for a “work planner” seeking over $17,000. He requested that I pass along a message and link to my backers, which I refused to do. After five days, his new KS project is stuck at $107. He didn’t take the advice.

Finally, there were the two Australian musicians that launched a campaign to fund their new album. I think the amount was around $10,000. They did produce a video of themselves singing and playing a couple of songs but the audio was captured using the microphone on their phone. I have a hard time buying into a project when the craftsmanship of the project is so casual. They only had 8 hours left on their campaign and had raised $275.

And now there’s Michael Fremer’s Kickstarter campaign called, “Hearing is Deceiving: AAA versus ADA Vinyl”. I mentioned this project about a month ago. He’s been writing about it for a while in the Analog Planet newsletter. The purpose of Michael’s campaign (which will be funded if they raise $10,000) is to determine whether vinyl fans can tell the difference between a new vinyl LP pressing of a very old analog tape master of a performance of the Dallas Symphony produced directly from “the analog master tape” and “after it has been digitized at 96/24 resolution using the highly regarded Pacific Microsonics A/D converter”. (NOTE: The Pacific Microsonics A/D converter is a very good converter but has been bettered by a number of newer designs).

According to the webpage, “Vinyl record fans believe records cut from a digitized analog tape—even at 96/24 resolution— sound different and less ‘analog-like’ than records cut directly from the analog tape”.

The project will fund the production. However, I can’t imagine how this particular comparison will yield any meaningful results. The original recording is described as “…dry, direct and very revealing. Dynamics are wide, with precise sound staging and solid, three dimensional imaging”. This all has to be taken with a grain of salt as the source was made in 1967…long before high-resolution digital encoding existed. The dynamic range at best would be 10-12 bits if the actual analog master tape is used…less if an edited master or mastered copy is used.

The vinyl LPs produced will sound identical if Kevin Gray, the mastering engineer, does his job correctly. There isn’t any information on the original analog tape that a 96 kHz/24-bit PCM capture won’t capture.

A more interesting evaluation would be to compare the high-resolution, 96 kHz/24-bit PCM master of Christian Jacob’s “Beautiful Jazz” against the vinyl LP release and the analog tape copies that I made from the master. Using a new recording made with state-of-the-art equipment has the potential to show real differences between digital and analog signal paths, using a 40 year old analog master won’t. If you’re curious, the files of the analog vs. digital versions of Christian’s project are available on my FTP site for free.

Finally, I should point out that Paul Horner’s Kickstarter campaign has almost reached its $1000 funding goal. He needs the funds to finish his CD. I would highly recommend checking out his KC page…if you feel inclined to back his campaign, you’ll be very pleased with the outcome. And if you do, I’ll send along the high-resolution, stereo files.

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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.

(10) Readers Comments

  1. Mark wrote:
    “A more interesting evaluation would be to compare the high-resolution, 96 kHz/24-bit PCM master of Christian Jacob’s “Beautiful Jazz” against the vinyl LP release and the analog tape copies that I made from the master. Using a new recording made with state-of-the-art equipment has the potential to show real differences between digital and analog signal paths, using a 40 year old analog master won’t. If you’re curious, the files of the analog vs. digital versions of Christian’s project are available on my FTP site for free.”

    Where are these files? I can only find a 34s snippet.

    • Dave…it seems someone has deleted the folder with the comparison files. I’ll put them up again once I return to the states.

  2. I would love to buy the whole CJ album in 24/96!

    • The whole album is coming Joe.

  3. There is an ongoing debate among many vinyl enthusiast audiophiles. That being the importance of an audiophile LP being all analog sourced. There are some audiophiles that believe any digitization of the signal in the chain of any LP renders the results audibly corrupted by digital and further believe that it is pointless to ever make LPs with any A/D D/A conversion in the signal path. There are others (like yourself) that believe a hi res digital stage is transparent and should have no audible effect on the resulting LP. Those two diametrically opposing beliefs can be put to a meaningful test using this LP. The LP has to be sourced from an analog master tape for the test to be relevant to this particular debate.

    • But why not start with a new recording rather than use a 40 year old master of limited fidelity?

      • I suspect that is a matter of access, appeal and cost. If one already has access to the recording and a low licencing fee it is simply more cost effective. It is also a popular audiophile title so there is some curb appeal. Ultimately audiophiles are going to have to dish out 25 bucks to get their copy. I would also pick an old audiophile fav that I would expect to have the highest sales numbers to base cost ratio if I were doing this.

  4. I have several LP’s from the then-popular Erato label that were recorded digitally (probably in 14 bits or even 12) and they sound great.

  5. I did pledge to back Paul Horner’s Kickstarter campaign. I hope it is successful because it sounds interesting.

    • Thanks…it is.

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