Dr. AIX's POSTS — 23 February 2016


It’s not that there isn’t plenty more to talk about or questions to ask with regards to Cablegate and the fantasy world that reviewers and manufacturers live in regarding expensive “do nothing” cables. But in response to a few requests and my own feelings, it’s time to move on, I’m leaving the cable issue behind for now. Those of you who have read and appreciate my postings will find plenty more to chew on in the “Cables” chapter of my book “Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound”. Recommending that audio enthusiasts spend a bunch of money on expensive “jewelry” cables from any of the usual suppliers is not in there. Stay tuned…

The 2016 AXPONA show is a couple of months away and AIX Records is going to be presenting a full high-resolution, surround sound system demonstration including 4K video! If you managed to make it by our room last year, you already know how incredible it sounded…probably the best setup I’ve every assembled and certainly among the best sound at the show. We will be sharing the room with the same partners from last year. These companies include Oppo, Dolby Labs, Kenwood JVC, Benchmark, DH Labs, and hopefully Harman/Revel (still in the works).

Oppo Digital will be supplying one of their industrial strength players modified to allow 4 x S/P DIF outputs. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the generosity and care that the Oppo team takes in making sure that our signal path is digital all the way. Using S/P DIF digital signals between their player and a set of 3 Benchmark DAC2 HGCs guarantees that everything that is in the music is presented without coloration, amplitude changes, or filtering. The DH Labs digital interconnects that we’ll use to make the connections are relatively inexpensive because they don’t have extravagant marketing budgets like some of the other makers but they do the job. Getting a S/P DIF digital signal from a Blu-ray player to a high-end DAC is not difficult in stereo but digitally sending multichannel audio is a bit trickier.

Benchmark will be supplying three of their state-of-the-art DACs…the DAC2 HGC models AND connecting the balanced outputs to their highly regarded AHB2 power amplifiers. These amazing amplifiers will be operating in mono bridged mode once again and driving the Revel Salon 2 speakers that were so impressive last year (I know my friend at Harmon/Revel is currently working on securing the same 5 speakers as last year…I’m keeping my fingers crossed).

Kenwood JVC will be there as well with their latest upsampling 4K digital projector. I can never keep up with the Model numbers but the videos that they project are bright, vibrant, and crystal clear. And finally thanks to Dolby Labs for partnering with us once again. I use and fully support the Dolby TrueHD encoding scheme. It’s an upgrade to the MLP codec invented by Meridian used in the DVD-Audio format.

I will be hosting two after hours sessions at AXPONA 2016 again this year. We had standing room only on Friday and Saturday evenings last year. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recordings, talking about high-resolution audio, offering the “Music and Audio” book, and of course, talking about Cablegate.

It’s going to be a wonderful few days in Chicago. If you’re planning on attending, please stop by and say hello.

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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.

(20) Readers Comments

  1. Looking forward to seeing you in Chicago. The room you set up last year was outstanding!

  2. I might have to plan a trip to the ole home town, visit some family and friends and then do the show.
    Good luck on all the hard work of pulling everything together.

  3. Hi Mark
    Would it be possible for you to post a video of you giving your presentation?

    • It another logistics headache…but maybe I can convince my wife to setup my iPhone. We’ll see…

  4. I have yet to go to one of these shows where the exhibitor didn’t complain about the room he had been assigned and tell me his equipment could do much better in the right room. My question is, should he visit my house, inspect my room, tell me whether or not it’s okay if I buy his speaker? Should I expect it to sound its best there? What do you think his answer would be if he actually did that? What provisions do these systems make in the way they are engineered to adapt to different listening room acoustics so that they always sound more or less the same? IMO the answer is NONE at all. That’s why you shop for the right cables to tame that shrill tweeter. Or like was done with the Yamaha NS 10 monitor you can put just right brand tissue paper in front of it (I’m not making this up.) If that doesn’t work try throwing a coat or a blanket over it. That should do it.

    • Mark, doing demos in a hotel ballroom or a converted sleeping room is always a crap shoot. The hotel for the AXPONA show is located at the O’Hare International airport and the planes can be heard very clearly in the rooms. Obviously, this is less than ideal. I’ve been pretty pleased with the sound in our rooms…I think have a surround system in a large room helps.

      I remember the tissue over the NS 10s, LOL.

      • I was in the room last year to hear the setup, and chat briefly with you and the other equipment providers, and I have to say it sounded great (airplanes or no planes).

        I will also be back there this year to look around. The seminars seem to be a bit redundant already, and, the spouse event is some kind of painting class. Yikes, it’s 2016, do something for the spouses (who, it seems, they assume are ladies) that involves getting them involved in listening and collaborating with the quest for better sound, not something out of the 1950s (which some of the presidential candidates seem to want to regress to). OK, I didn’t mean to go down that path, at any rate, see you in April I expect the sound to again be outstanding.

        Maybe this year you could actually get one of the journalists to come and check out the room, as I recall last year you said no one came by. You could offer up some special interconnects for them, grin, we could get a box from our local big box retailer and dip them in glitter or something???

    • Soundmind
      Of course the exhibitor will blame the room for any negative remarks you might make on the sound of his system, an easy way to duck out.
      But still it remains true that the room is the second most important component in you system next to your speakers.
      Without a little extra dampening must living areas are only surpassed by the shower/washroom for echo/reverb. Great for making your singing sound good, not so good for a HiFi.

      • I would have to disagree with your assessment that the room is number 2 behind the speakers…the fidelity of the source content is the most important factor in the chain.

        • A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Take cars. Usually the most flawed part is the nut behind the wheel.

          • LOL

        • Ah yes, but we have no control over what was done with the source, we have to live with the music as it is given us for better or worse.

  5. I plan on it and will hopefully see you there. Thanks for the great Blog.

  6. I hope to be able to make it again!

  7. Looking forward to this year. The presentation last year was great.

    • Thanks Jim…it’s going to be fun.

  8. I wonder which board this special Oppo with S/P DIF outputs is equivalent to: the Vanity HD or Vanity Lite aftermarket board?

    • I just received the box…and will be taking a lot this week. I’ll see what I can find out. I have discovered that I will be able to offer this upgrade if anyone is interested in a MCH digital output Oppo player.

      • I am interested in the upgrade. I have the Oppo 103.

        • If you could please write to me privately, I’ll see what I can do.

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