AXPONA 2014: Day One

Friday was the first day of the AXPONA 2014 show and it was a particularly intense day. It’s always stressful to get everything set up and adjusted and our special press event with John Gorka was scheduled to take place in the middle of the afternoon. It takes a lot of planning to pull these things together. Then there’s the dynamic of the different partners working the room and the actual flow of people in and out of the room. But after a false start during the first demonstration (the left and right front speakers…the monster German Physiks Emperor MK IIs…went into protection mode for reasons that we couldn’t really figure out! But when we switched them back on…it was glorious), everything managed to come off without a hitch.

The sound was exquisite through the system. I would venture to say that it was among the best sound that I’ve ever heard in one of our demo rooms…and I’ve set up some pretty amazing systems over the years. At an EHX show in Orlando some years ago, we had Boulder Amplifiers and B&W 800D speakers all the way around. That was an amazing system too…AND coincidentally John Gorka happened to stop by because he was performing a concert nearby.

I was a little apprehensive about the ominidirectionality of the German Physics speakers. I mix using B&W 801 Matrix IIIs and wasn’t sure that my mixes would localize properly using speakers that are not directional. I know it is a feature of the German Physiks design but I feared it might spread the imaging out too far. Thankfully, it didn’t and I credit the fact that we oriented the room to maximize the size of the circle along which the speakers were placed. Sitting in the middle of the room, the speakers produced a very smooth, open and exceedingly clear presentation of my recordings. The dynamic range was accurately reproduced and there was no coloration of any kind. The comments that came back were uniformly positive…of course; we did have a very premium setup.

It was very gratifying to have so many readers and AIX fans come up to me during the first day of the show and introduce themselves. Thanks so much for coming by and lending your support to the effort. One individual told me that he took a “sick day” off from his teaching position…the first time he had ever done that…to come to the show and experience our room! Thanks Dennis…I hope you get well soon!

Right on cue, John Gorka and Antje Duvekot showed up at about 2:00 pm. With his well traveled guitar in hand John and I chatted briefly about the songs that he was going to perform and that Antje would be included. The hotel folks set up the bar and brought in some cheese and crackers, the press and other guests arranged themselves in the chairs and the event was launched. Robert Kelly, from German Physiks gave a brief introduction to his company and the unique technology of their speakers followed by a few introductory remarks of my own. Then it was John’s turn. He sat in the front of the room between the speakers and played two songs. The first was “Italian Girls” followed by “I Saw A Stranger With Your Hair”…a personal favorite. It was not amplified…just John and his guitar with Antje singing harmony on the choruses of the second song.

After he was finished, he stepped aside and I played the same tunes from the Blu-ray disc (entitled “The Gypsy Life…after one of his tunes). I lowered the volume to match the acoustic level and hit play. I closed my eyes and John was performing once again. It was almost surreal and I’m sure that John had to do a double take as well. There was the same sound as we all had just experienced. The experiment worked great.

He played one additional tune and then hustled off to his sound check in downtown Chicago.

The last thing of the day was John Hamm, the CEO of Pono, and his keynote address. I’ll talk about that in a future post…he and I are having breakfast this morning.


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.

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