Dr. AIX's POSTS — 02 April 2016


I heard from Bob Stuart once again. It’s clear from a number of comments that the confusion over recordings and live performances is alive an well. My original comments were based on a reading of the question and Bob’s answer that differs from what he was saying. It was my fault for taking things out of context. I shouldn’t have done it but I was conflicted by his position.

Here’s his clarification:

Hi Mark,

I see from your recent post, and in the comments, that we are in danger of taking one statement out of context and compounding the error because your readers are not privy to the background of our discussion.

A shared topic for some time has been: ‘What constitutes High Resolution in audio?’, particularly against the background of several attempted definitions in the digital domain. My original comment and subsequent note were in that context, nothing to do with MQA.

The central point I was making (and in the linked article) is that we can define ‘Resolution’ strictly in the analogue domain (and by analogy therefore in acoustic, mechanical and electrical domains!).

One reason we are in the weeds as an industry is that, for sounds, these terms have not been defined as helpfully as they were for pictures.

In optics or photography, image resolution is the detail an image holds, and one measure is how closely two lines can approach and still remain separated (resolved). That tends to be a property of e.g. a column of air, a lens or film .

In digital photography, pixels only loosely correlate to ‘resolution’ which is why they use the different term ‘definition’ for the digital part. A high definition image need not be high resolution.

In sound, ‘resolution’ should be about the separability (resolvability) of two objects or events in time; a measure that can be mapped to analogues of acoustical, mechanical or electrical domains. And unless we can define it way back in the acoustic domain we can’t be reliably guided by the auditory sciences.

A digital path is not necessary to either enable, constitute or reduce resolution. We can have a high- or low-resolution analogue path; we can have a high- or low-resolution digital path. But an analogue definition helps to inform the design of a complete chain.

So once again, I wasn’t commenting on whether analogue recording systems are high resolution or not (nor indeed on whether pre-electrical recordings aren’t analogue), I was making the point that there needn’t be a digital path to have the discussion. This is a very precise topic because it is the starting point.

Discussion over! I’d suggest people wait for your book.
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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.

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