AUDIO SHOWS Dr. AIX's POSTS — 21 April 2017

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It always takes a longer to unpack, place, cable up, and test a demonstration room and yesterday was no exception. The AIX Records room is located adjacent to the Marketplace in a large ballroom. Once again we’ve partnered with Oppo Digital, Benchmark, DH Labs, and JVC to bring a true high-resolution, surround music experience to show attendees. However, this year Revel was unable to supply us with the Salon II towers that we’ve used in the past. Their top end speakers proved a perfect match to the true audiophile system that we’ve assembled and I was concerned about finding a replacement partner. I started contacting other “megabuck” speaker makers and was disappointed at every turn. I understand it’s a serious commitment to supply high end equipment — especially when our room requires 5 identical speakers.

Then I had a flash of inspiration. What if instead of trying to get the most expensive speakers, I reached out to my good friend Dan Laufman, CEO and founder of Franklin, Tennessee-based Emotiva and asked him about acquiring a cost effective set of speakers and a couple of subwoofers. If you don’t know, Emotiva builds very high quality modular electronics AND affordable speakers. Dan was happy to load up his truck with 5 Airmotiv T1 mini towers and a couple of BASX 12 subs. His guys helped stack the boxes up yesterday from his room at the Westin and Dan and I pushed them down the hall to my room.

After unboxing the Airmotiv T1s (which retail for $699 a pair!) and getting the system arranged and hooked up, I finally applied power to the system and started the first track of my latest sampler. It sounded amazing! Really. I have to admit to be a little skeptical about these inexpensive speakes meeting my very demanding requirements for fidelity, balance, detail, and frequency response, the T1s more than met my needs and the sound filled the room every bit as well as the Revel Salon IIs. The only thing that you don’t get with the Emotiva units is a fancy piano gloss finish — and I think cost conscious audiophiles will be more than happy to trade the appeal of a beautiful piece of furniture for terrific sound and $19K in their pockets.

And believe it or not, we all sat listening to the system without the two subs contributing to the sound. The cables to go from balanced XLR to unbalanced RCA connectors are coming this morning from DH Labs. I messed up and didn’t inform them of the exact requirements. But the T1 go down to 37 Hz and extend to 28 kHz. Check out the product page at Emtoiva’s website. And please come by the Lakeshore B ballroom to experience the new AIX Records demo room with state-of-the-art equipment from all of our partners.

Oppo is supplying one of their new UDP-205 ultra high-definition Blu-ray players, Benchmark brought the new DAC 3 with the latest ESS chips, JVC has their latest 4K projector, DH Labs supplied cables to hook it all up.

Thanks for everyone who stopped by the jmksonics.com site yesterday to check out the new AIX Records release “JMK”, My phone was pinging me all day with orders from interested readers. Bravo. I’ll get these sent out when I get back on Monday, so please be patient. I’ll be playing lots of examples of this amazing surround electro-acoustic project for attendees of the show.

Finally, I’ve got a Yarr3DX beamforming array setup at the sales table. I’ll be talking more about this very innovative technology over the next few days and weeks. Imagine being able to replace the best headphones and even a high end set of speakers with a small 20″ array of 33 mm drivers and small sub. Yep, it’s possible to deliver discrete “beams” of sound in a binaural configruation to your ears without headphones. It’s the perfect technology for a variety of applications. You can visit www.yarra3dx.com for some preliminary information (I’m still adding to the website) and to sign up for VIP status for our upcoming crowdsourcing campaign. Unlike many other campaigns, we actually have the product that we’re pitching.

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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.

(23) Readers Comments

  1. Sorry I will not be able to come hear the setup this year! Family matters keep me away after having attended the last two years and yes, the Revel speakers were quite awesome. Now, will this be the year that someone from the mainstream magazines finds their way into your room???

    It will be interesting to see how the new venue for next year you mentioned works out (I Googled the location and honestly it just looks like a bigger hotel with larger rooms, not what I consider a convention center, but, will be interested to hear your take on it if you can make it over there to scout it out), My daughter, who has attended the show with me in the past, said that the new location is “way out there” (or, in BFE as they say), at least for those who live in the central Chicago area as opposed to the suburbs.

    Hopefully this is a productive show for you, and I look forward to more posts (and that BD and book) coming soon.

    • Several of us jumped in the car and went to the new AXPONA venue to check out the place. It’s huge and modern and has very big rooms. It will be very spaced out to get around. I’m going to speak with the AXPONA folks today and see what we might be able to work out.

  2. PS to my earlier comment, I spoke with someone who frequents one of the other audio site blogs and he is from Chicago, he says the Renaissance is actually a very nice venue, nicely updated with large rooms. He personally thinks it will be a big step up in venue quality. We shall see.

  3. Have a successful show Mark. I would normally be there but having just come back from a month downunder and 18 flights in 4 weeks, I am in no mood to fly anytime soon! Have fun!

    • Wow, Joe…sounds like you need a travel break.

  4. I have three Emotiva Pro Stealth 8s across the front of my listening room, and I use an Oppo BDP105 as my primary player. And it’s pretty darn good.

  5. Those speakers look awesome as well, and wow the price is right in line with my budget. Will have to see if I can listen to them somewhere in Seattle. Thanks!

    • They really did perform at a level far exceeding their price. Dan Laufman and his designers, engineers, and supply team have done a great job with the Airmotiv T1s. Very impressed.

  6. Out of curiosity, what type of hardware configuration are you using to obtain high resolution multichannel sound. I know in the past you guys used either a custom ‘tricked out” Oppo Blu Ray player or a PC with a multichannel Lynx card to get the requisite 5 digital outputs to drive your three Benchmark DACs. I was kind of wondering if there were any new products out there -available to the general public – that would allow one to get five discrete, high resolution capable digital channels off a Blu Ray disc.

    • I’m using the modded OPPO BDT-101CI Universal Disc Player with the digital outputs to drive three new Benchmark DAC3 DXs into the AHB2 power amps.

  7. Hi Mark,

    Interesting choice to go with emotiva’s speakers and to avoid the overpriced and overhyped pieces that do not really live up to the expectations they sell. For next time I challenge you to be even more innovative and try the open baffle speakers of Spatial Audio. Spatial Audio is releasing their new 16 Ohm rated Hologram M3s aimed at customers who would like to use tube amplifiers, and I do suggest you go and check them out. They also have their new flagship speakers coming down the pipe, the Uniwave X-1s, which promise to slaying a pretty big bunch of megabuck giants. And why not a quintet of electrostatic or planar magnetic flagships? I guess you are going with the AHB2s for amplification? Please share some nice picturez for those of us who couldn’t attend in person.

    Best regards,

    Camilo

    • The Emotiva’s has exceeded everyone’s expectations. Instead of trying to impress with megabuck equipment, I can deliver the same experience for a tenth the cost. This opens up surround sound for a whole new generation of audiophiles.

      • Or try a Siegfried Linkwitz design. The LX521.4 as the front speakers and the LXminis as the surrounds might make for a stunning system.

        http://www.linkwitzlab.com just in case you did not know

        Steven

        • I’ve been hip to Linkwitz speakers for years. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. Hope the press makes it to your room this year!

    • There have been a few press visitors to the AIX Records room. I hope some of them will share their experiences. We’ll see.

  9. ‘…..This opens up surround sound for a whole new generation of audiophiles’
    Now we are talking 😉

    Have a good time and please keep on posting…..
    ….on a regular basis!

  10. “.. the T1s more than met my needs and the sound filled the room every bit as well as the Revel Salon IIs”. How would you say the T1s compared to your Bower and Wilkins speakers? The reason I ask is that I have a pair of 602S2s on stands. I originally auditioned these against a pair of B&W floorstanders (back in 1998) but found the floorstanders to be too boomy. I tend to find this with every floorstander I’ve ever heard – the bass is adversly affected by the speakers proximity to the floor.

    I’m thinking of relegating my S2’s to a secondary room and your description of the T1’s ability has piqued my interest in them. However I like the B&W presentation of music which is why I’ve hung on to the S2’s for so long.

    • Dave, I must say the Emotiva Airmotiv T1s were every bit as good as the Salon II and my trusty B&W 801s with the exception of the lowest bass frequencies. THe B&Ws are smooth all the way down. However, with the addition of the two sub in the room that issue went away. These less expensive speakers aren’t pieces of fine furniture but they don’t pretend to be. They’re just solid designs with great drivers AND they’re ridiculously inexpensive.

      • Thanks, I’m going to try to audition a pair – which might prove difficult in th UK.

        • Dave, I know that Emotiva is working on international distribution. It’s worth a try.

  11. I’m also glad to hear that you used much less expensive speakers in your demo. I think this is the way to go. I wish I could have heard the set up.

    • You’re right. I’ve tried as most of the other companies demoing speakers to associate myself with expensive “audiophile” models. It’s not necessary to spend lots of money to get great sound.

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