Dr. AIX's POSTS — 15 June 2013

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I’m in San Francisco this weekend to attend a screening of our Blu-ray “Mars in 3D”, which is something I produced in collaboration with my friend John Chowning (a very prominent computer music pioneer and inventor of FM synthesis at Stanford) AND to run the first half of the San Francisco marathon tomorrow. My daughter lives in San Francisco and has agreed to run her first half marathon with me on Father’s Day…can you think of a better present than to spend two and half hours plodding along the waterfront and over the Golden Gate Bridge with one of your children?

I’m a runner. I started about 7 years ago to get healthier, lose some weight and get out from behind a desk. It’s turned into a major activity for me. I tried my first LA Marathon on my birthday five years ago without any support structure. I finished but it was pretty dismal and lonely. Then I joined a running group that trains you for the big race. It made all the difference. I didn’t magically transform into an elite runner but I did enjoy it more and I met a lot of new like-minded friends. I’ve done 4 marathons and 5 half marathons. As Nike says…just do it!

So as you might expect, I spend at least four mornings a week running up and down the beach or around the neighbor. It takes me about an hour to go about 6 miles. I get myself warmed up, let my brain drift to any thought and move one foot in front of the other. However, there are a lot of runners that listen to music while they’re running. My daughter is one of them. At dinner last evening she told me that she has to listen to music during the race tomorrow. Here I’m thinking that we’ll have some time together to talk and share and she’s planning on sealing off the outside world. “Well Dad, you can poke me when you want to say something”, she said. Great.

In the training groups, there are others that adopt the same strategy for passing the time. You put together a playlist of your favorite type of music and start up your iPod. There are lots of headphones choices for people that like to exercise. The plain old ear buds that come with your hardware are not conducive to running because they tend to fall out. There are some the have elements that wrap around your ears and hold the drivers close to your ears and there are others that are custom molded and intrude further into you ear canal, virtually sealing you off from all outside sound. Some people even have full on, over the earphones on their heads when they run. I can’t imagine the sweat factor that must accompany that type of setup.

No matter what type of headphones or ear buds that are used, it never ceases to amaze me that people are playing their music excessively loud. When I can hear the music coming from the runner next to me, then the level is way too loud! But it happens a lot. Sometimes I make a gentle suggestion that they turn it down a little. I point out that listening to loud compressed music for long durations can do long term damage. Everyone has had the experience of “ringing” in your ears after a night at a live concert. Imagine that sound in your ears everyday! It happens.

I attended an AES convention and got my ear checked a couple of years ago. I was thrilled that the person running the test told me that I had the hearing of a 20-year old. I consider myself very fortunate to have good hearing…but I do take care of my ears by wearing hearing protection when appropriate, covering my ear when I’m near a lout siren or jackhammer and I rarely turn up the volume in the studio past 85 dB…and that’s only when listening to music that not-mastered!

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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.

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