Rocky Mountain Audio Day 1

The first day of the RMAF 2013 edition is behind me and I’m looking forward to an even bigger crowd today. The AIX Records sales table ended up right adjacent to the registration table rather than in side the large ballroom where most of the vendors were located. It turned out to be an ideal location with continuous traffic all day. It almost seemed that Denver had given audiophiles the day off to come to the show. It was probably one of the best opening days ever. I only managed to get free of the table for a quick bite and a couple of dashes to the restroom. I will probably run out of many products today.

The company adjacent to me had an old Studer A80 1/2″ analog tape deck, which they were using to demonstrate real time transfers to DSD 128 using their hardware converters and the Merging Technologies Pryamix DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). The master tape had been encoded using Dolby SR stereo (Spectral Recording Model 363) noise reduction unit. Visitors to their display/demo area were able to compare the output of the analog tape vs. the output of the double DSD stream. As I listened to the pitch made by the audio engineer attending the equipment, I was interested in his assessment of PCM vs. DSD.

He was all about DSD over PCM. PCM is harsh and DSD is more “musical”, a very tired and inaccurate assessment. PCM is a complicated conversion and DSD is a simple conversion…very similar to analog (which it is definitely not). However, the reaction of a number of attendees who listened to the comparison ran counter to his assertions. A number of them preferred the analog tape output to the DSD version. To be fair, the listening conditions were hardly ideal. They were using a good set of headphones, but the comparison was done by unplugging from one phone jack and plugging into another.

Transfers of an analog tape are actually reasonable uses for DSD. It was originally intended to be an archive format and not a consumer delivery format. Taking a 1/2″ analog master…especially on that was encoded using Dolby SR. Converting the tape to both HD PCM AND DSD 128 would have been more appropriate comparison. I’m rather confident that the PCM version would be more accurate…but in audiophile shootouts accuracy is not necessarily a positive attribute.

There is a seminar today moderated by Dr. David Robinson on his favorite topic. It’s entitled “DSD Downloads, The New High-Resolution Standard: A Major Update”. The usual participants will be involved including Chad Kassem (Super Hirez/Analog Productions/Acoustic Sounds), Andreas Koch (Playback Designs), Michael Bishop (Five/Four Productions), Jared Sacks, (Channel Classics), Jan-Eric Persson (Opus3 Records), Matt Ashland (JRiver), Dr. Rob Robinson (Channel D), Michal Jurewicz (Mytek Digital), Jonathan Tinn (Blue Light Audio), George Klissarov (exaSound) and John Siau (Benchmark Media Systems). Talk about a stacked deck! Another love fest for DSD…except for John Siau of Benchmark, who explained the myths behind DSD in an interview for this site. The interview that I have posted on this site, is the single most visited page on…over 4000 visits. And if you read it, you’ll know that John is not a fan of DSD. I wish I could attend the seminar but I can’t sacrifice 2 hours of potential sales to listen to the same biased pitches about how DSD is the “new standard”. It’s not; there are still no tools and simply pushing the noise further out to higher and higher frequencies using DSD 256 really doesn’t solve anything.

I have my own seminar tomorrow morning on the production stages of creating a high-resolution audio master…and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that I won’t be talking about making recordings in DSD. I might, however, endorse selling DSD downloads or files for those customers that want DSD. I’m willing to give people what they want…even if I know that it is flawed.


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 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.

One thought on “Rocky Mountain Audio Day 1

  • Thanks for this. When you refer to past articles that you have posted on this site, you might want to embed the links, for the reader’s convenience.


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