A New Media Room

The last few weeks, my wife and I have been shuffling furniture between rooms in our home. Now that the three kids are out of the house, Mona’s long-term plan for the place is finally becoming a reality. Her home office has now replaced my oldest son’s room (all of his stuff is piled in a corner of the former media room…the converted garage). The largest room on the ground floor, which had been our master bedroom, has been moved upstairs to the bedroom once occupied by our daughter.

If it seems like the house is somewhat unusual…it is. It’s a two level home with the living room and kitchen on the second floor. The reason is because we have a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean from Point Dume to the point at the end of the street and the added elevation gives us a view over the houses across the street (which are already lower by 20 feet). It’s the reason that we brought the house.

So the big room just off the entrance on the ground floor is being transformed into the new “media room/family room”. The plan was to get it finished by the Thanksgiving holiday but things always go slower than planned. I had to do some carpentry, reroute some electrical boxes, paint the floor and ceiling and install carpets tiles…and paint again. It wasn’t until Sunday evening, after everyone had gone home, that I got the audio/video system working (and I did it by extending the two coaxial cables located in the converted garage and running them down the middle of the hall to the new room…not elegant but it works for now). I promised my wife that it’s a temporary solution.

The equipment that I have in this new media room was cobbled together from gear that wasn’t needed at the studio and some other leftovers. It’s hardly state-of-the-art, but it’s pretty good (After all the prime system is at the studio). I took my Panasonic 65″ Viera 3D TV home. That was a major upgrade, replacing a much older 42″ monitor. I found a midrange Yamaha A/V Receiver here at the studio with HDMI, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio decoders in it, so that went home. You gotta have HDMI these days. I even managed to find the remote control amidst about 20 other remotes in a box from the attic. There are occasional benefits to hoarding!

The speakers are my matched set of THX certified B&W FCM-8s. Tomlinson Holman, audio guru and now head audio expert at Apple, recommended them when I set up my first 5.1 surround mastering room in West Hollywood…and they ended up in the former Waldrep media room. I have nice heavy stands for them. I’ve cabled them up with moderately priced Cardas cable.

But the real centerpiece of my emerging system is the OPPO BDP-105 machine. You might think of OPPO as providers of optical disc players but this machine is much more than that. It will become the primary source of my entertainment system. Why?

Because it’s a universal machine, it is capable of playing any type of optical disc (CD, SACD, DVD-Audio, BD, 3DBD and even ROM discs), sound files from USB sticks or an eSata Hard Drive and streamed A/V media from the Internet. And it does all of those things to a standard that would make any audiophile or videophile proud. Their machines are definitely worth checking out. My plan is to abandon my Direct TV subscription and migrate entirely over to things like Netflix and Cinema Now.

In the interest of full disclosure, OPPO doesn’t pay me to support them or promote their machines…but they did provide me the BDP-105 for free. As you know, I attend a lot of audio trade shows and I needed a BD player to show off the AIX Records Blu-ray discs, so I called them up and asked if they would lend me a machine…they agreed. When show attendees see the OPPO machine on my sales table of as part of a larger demonstration system, they usually recognize the company and their products. And it’s for good reason. These machines are without doubt the most cost effective, best performing, feature rich media sources available. I never hesitate in recommending them.

To be continued…


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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