Mailbag: Listeners Respond

The best thing about maintaining an online presence is the close connection that I feel with my readers. I get a lot of email from supporters. The encouraging ones are obviously the fun ones but others are cause for reflection. I thought I would offer up a few from each category and make a few comments.

Here’s my favorite of the past couple of weeks. As you know, I offer FREE sample tracks through the CONTACT form on this site. Thousands of people have downloaded the samples and many have send along their comments. This one came from an audiophile looking into the world of High-Resolution Audio:

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the real HD-Audio tracks. I am relatively new to the “high res. audio” download world and, until now, have limited myself to high res. samplers offered by the likes of hdtracks.com and highresaudio.com . Thus far, I have been quite impressed with what I’ve heard. That being said, nothing could have prepared me for what lay in store once I pressed play on my computer and sat back to audition your recent offering. I have to admit, it took me a little while to wrap my head around what was happening. The first thing I noticed was that the track was a little louder, both on volume and bass. The next thing that struck me was the realism factor, or the “in the room” presence I was experiencing; I felt as though I was in the recording venue with the musicians. Then I realized that the track had blown the ceiling off my listening room. I was enveloped by the soundstage to such a degree that I lost all cognizance of the location of my speakers, or that I even was listening through speakers for that matter. Finally, I was more than taken aback by the degree to which instruments and vocals were delineated. I could hear each so vividly and distinctly, even in the orchestral performances, which is remarkable to say the least. I was literally shaking my head through many of the tracks. I couldn’t help but think how enjoyable my favorite artists would sound if recorded using your techniques, equipment, etc. Perhaps one day…

Thank you again for allowing me to experience “real” high-resolution audio (Bye the way, the music you selected was brilliant!). I can only imagine what your tracks sound like on 5.1 Blu-ray. I am seriously considering reassembling my 5.1 system just so I can experience the magic.


Matthew Picco

Who wouldn’t want to get a response like that one…and this was from listening to the stereo tracks. Wait until Matthew gets a chance to listen to the “stage” perspective 5.1 surround mixes (I’m working on getting those uploaded to the FTP…stay tuned).

Here’s an email from a very qualified listener located in the Netherlands…a fellow member of the high-resolution audio working group at the AES.

Dear Mark,

It has taken some time, but this week I listened to some of the excerpts of the AIX recordings. Being very critical, my comments are:
– in general, the recordings are above average (with “ordinary” CD’s as reference)
– the jazz/pop recordings are not as good as those of e.g. “Stockfish” records on SACD
– the classical recordings are not as good as those of e.g. the “Concertgebouworchestra” on SACD.

Not being an expert on recording and the equipment used by the different recording companies, I cannot pinpoint exactly what causes the differences. Might be the microphones or the processing, but I can only advice to contact these companies to find out what they are doing. (N.B. the “Concertgebouworchestra” has its own label nowadays, the recordings are made by “Polyhymnia” in Baarn, Netherlands, “Stockfish” is -in Europe at least- a well known audiophile label).

I think it would be very interesting to have a discussion with you, it would be great if this could be done “face to face” at my place, so I could demonstrate what I tried to point out above.

With kind regards,
[Name Withheld]

It’s not everyday that someone says that my recordings are “above average”…and are eclipsed by a couple of audiophile labels in the EU. Remember, both of these gentlemen listened to exactly the same recordings. Something has to account for the different perspectives.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a couple of reasons why I believe the tracks elicited such dramatically different responses.


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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