AUDIO SHOWS Dr. AIX's POSTS NEWS — 03 June 2017

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The LA Audio show opened its doors at 10 am yesterday to eager throngs of audio enthusiasts. This is the inaugural show for the organizers, which include that Los Angeles and Orange Country Audiophile Society run by Bob Levi. I got up quite early, packed up my usual rolling suitcases (without the 50 pound limitation demanded by the airlines), loaded everything in the car, and drove about 30 minutes to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at LAX. How convenient could it get? The bellman hauled everything up to the mezzanine level while I parked the car behind the hotel. The Sheraton Gateway hosted a Stereophile show back in 2009 but has since undergone a major renovation — it’s nice but rather spread out and somewhat difficult to navigate. I mentioned to Bob Levi that the tables located in the general mezzanine level are not identified on the map, by signage, or in the show booklet. I had more than a few people get lost trying to locate AIX Records.

There’s an area for headphones vendors, several ballrooms with extensive immersive audio setups (Auro 3D), plenty of smaller demonstration rooms, and of course, the usual collection of cable and accessory vendors lining most of the common areas. The show is very well organized and promises to be the go to show on the west coast — it may rise to become the biggest and best show in North America if they keep the prices reasonable and support the vendors. Traffic was quite good in the morning but by early afternoon, things were pretty slow in my area of the building.

Once again, I was given the keynote slot in the seminar room. I spoke for about 45 minutes on what is and what isn’t high-resolution music and took questions from a packed room of attendees. It was very nice to see a full house for the opening presentation. As you would expect, I tried to convey to the uninformed that hi-res audio as promoted by the labels, hardware manufacturers, and several supporting organizations is a complete hoax. There’s nothing “hi-res” about virtually all of the content available as downloads and on physical media. Readers of this blog realize that the fidelity of a particular album or track is locked in at the time of the original session and simply transferring an older analog copy to a bit bucket with higher specifications doesn’t alter the fidelity of the original. It’s just that simple. So anyone trying to convince you that they have some special sauce or three letter acronym process that will magically unwrap new layers of fidelity to your system and ears is fooling you — and trying to enrich themselves.

Yes, there are real high-resolution recordings available but they aren’t being produced and released by the major labels. They’ll keep trying with expensive marketing campaigns, slick brochures, seminars, testimonials, and “alternative facts” but the only way to experience a hi-res audio track to actually make one and play it back. And the only period we’ve had the ability to capture and deliver audio at “better than CD quality” has been during the last 20 years — that means that the vast majority of old analog recordings and standard resolution digital recordings being offered in “hi-res” audio are just the same old fidelity in new clothes. It’s unfortunate the the industry is so consumed with reselling old recordings that they aren’t being truthful about the fidelity of the tracks they’re selling AND that they aren’t making new recordings of higher fidelity.

The official reveal of the YARRA 3DX prototype unit happened yesterday on the Mezzanine level close by my setup. I had more than a few discussions with attendees about this revolutionary new technology. One gentleman and his son came by the AIX Records table and I mentioned the 3D-audio capabilities of the beamforming technique used in the YARRA 3DX array. The older man simply refused to accept that a sound could be perceived to come from over his shoulder from a speaker that was physically in front of him. I explained that we experience our world in full 3D with only two ears but he needed to be convinced. So I escorted him over to the YARRA 3DX box for a demo. I asked him to close his eyes and point to the “virtual speaker” where he heard a sound. As I soloed the individual channels, he pointed to the left, the center, and the right. When I soloed the right surround channel, he pointed over his right shoulder and smiled. He opened his eyes in disbelief. “I still don’t understand how it works, but you’re right the sound came from behind me,” he admitted. If you’re coming to the show today or tomorrow, please make sure to stop by and hear for yourself how incredible the YARRA 3DX is.

John Keane aka “JMK” is coming by the show today to sign copies of his new AIX Records surround Blu-ray disc. If you haven’t checked out this amazing project, please visit www.jmksonics.com to audition some tracks and read why this award-winning film and television composer go inspired to create a high-resolution, 5.1 album.

Got to run. More later…

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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.

(4) Readers Comments

  1. Hi Mark, not going to re-open the can of worms. The word that sticks out to me is “transfer”. Assuming a good recording, the hangup is in the long chain of transfer from mixing, format conversions, D/A, A/D etc. from recording, mastering, , and then ‘transferring’ the music again onto a consumer format. Not a smooth road.
    There certainly are opportunities for degradation along this path.
    When you fault analog recordings or recording equipment, it is generally in the frequency amplitude domain where you point out failings of bandwidth etc.
    What about the host of time domain issues that have been at the core of digital audio complaints?

    We both know that the ear is surprisingly tolerant of typical frequency response imperfections.
    Time domain clues and errors OTH are apparently detected almost automatically judging by simple observation of listeners’ reactions to playback. Accurate sound at your end and comfortable sound at the consumer end should not be noticeably different, and maintaining temporal accuracy at almost any point along the chain is not easy given the multitude of variables involved in any given recording project. Have a great show.

    • Craig, there are opportunities for degradation at every point along the production path. Very true. But it’s also true the every format has it inherent, systemic limitations. And I hope you acknowledge that high quality digital — even at standard resolution — has more potential for the accurate capture and reproduction of source sound than any other format. Even Jonathan Valin admitted that fact. The issue with analog is actually less about frequency response and more about other factors including distortion, speed fluctuations, dynamic range, crosstalk, etc. These are things that digital does much better than analog tape and vinyl. Let me repeat, there are plenty of audiophiles that prefer the sound of analog and the associated compromises. That’s fine. There are issues with digital too. But dynamic range and frequency response are not huge problems. As for timing, a well designed system with proper clock regeneration doesn’t suffer from the time smear and other issues that you claim are so audible. We could go around on the same issues we’ve discussed at length before. You and others have a different set of metrics than I do. The point is to enjoy the magic that is music in whatever format you like.

  2. By the way – what has become of the Sonic Blocks?

    • I reached out to my friend Scott that originated the Sonic Blocks concept. He didn’t return my call. I’ll see what I can find out.

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