Dr. AIX's POSTS — 02 February 2014

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On January 22, 2014, I posted an article about the efficacy of treating an optical disc with some sort of solution and buffing the surface of the disc in the hopes that it would improve the fidelity of the playback. You can check out the post here. The post included a photo of the Essence-of-Music product, which I described as snake oil and a product completely without a technical or scientific leg to stand on. I also said that I would do an objective test of discs that have been treated vs. untreated ones. I did that test yesterday.

What triggered my impromptu research was an email from the developer of the Essence-of-Music product, a gentleman name Dr. Robert Spence. He authored a very thoughtful and polite email expressing his disappointment by my “self-motivated and poor characterization of [his] product”…a product that he obviously continues to have confidence in. He questioned how I could make any reasonable statement about a product with which I’ve had no personal experience.

He inquired why I would use my discussion of the “discredited product as a bludgeon on a colleague and business competitor”. I was naturally curious about his criticisms since the open paragraph of my post explained why I was writing the post and why I chose to avoid naming any person or company in conjunction with the gist of the article.

So I responded that I have had experience with products similar to his and that I would be willing to objectively test his product at my studio. A subsequent email let me know that he wouldn’t be sending a copy of the Essence-of-Music product because he “lacks confidence that [I] could or would be objective” in evaluating the product. If I was him, I wouldn’t send it either…I understand. Although, if my assessment showed me that I was wrong about the Essence-of-Music tweak, I can assure you that I would not hesitate to publicly apologize and then tout his product with my full endorsement.

I must say the Dr. Spence’s tone was polite and respectful but he did pointedly cast me as an uncaring person and one lacking in character. I feel no need to apologize to Dr. Spence. I wrote the piece because there are way too many expensive products like his that are “snake oil” plain and simple. And today I can prove it…at least with regards to “surface” treatments of optical discs. I’m sure believers will not accept my results and fade back into their emotional “faith-based” beliefs but at least I will have tried.

Let me first reiterate a fundamental fact…there is no way that you can do anything to a properly functioning optical disc and pickup system to improve or change its “fidelity”. The job of the medium and optical laser pickup is to communicate a whole lot of digital ones and zeros between them.

Stay tuned for part II…

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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.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. Mark,
    I applaud your effords to explore the truth about this and other ‘ SNAKE OIL’ products. Only problem is that Iearned in over 40 years as an audiophile this is argument you can never win .
    I’ve heard the refrain a thousand times..
    Either you don’t have good enough equipment to reveal the improvement
    Or your hearing isn’t well trained enough.
    Sal

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