AXPONA 2014: Day 3

I’m back at my desk in Los Angeles…finally. While I always enjoy presenting my tracks to interested audiophiles, it’s pretty grueling to stand all day long for three days and play high-resolution advocate and DJ. We had a really great system in the Madison room…the best I heard at the show and among the best that I’ve ever assembled for a show (I did get a couple of hours late on Sunday to check out some of the other rooms).

I think the best part of partnering with the folks from German Physiks was that I didn’t have to participate in the disassembly and packing up of the ten crates that they came in. Last year, I scrambled to get 5 B&W 802Ds into their shipping boxes and still make it to my plane on time. It was such a mad rush that I forgot my briefcase and laptop! Thankfully, my good friend and AXPONA partner Gary from JVC was able to ship it to me. This year was a breeze.

There was a lot that was different about the AXPONA show this year. Everyone that was part of the show… including both vendors and attendees…would have to agree that it stepped up a notch. Why? Because my friend Steve and his lovely wife Carmen, the founders and organizers of the show handed off the management of the show to the professionals at JD Events. Steve sold the show to a well-oiled machine and they demonstrated that they could organize, promote and deliver a really first class event. And these are people that have never dealt with the craziness of the audio market.

The attendance was higher than any other event other than CES…according to Steve, they sold 5500 tickets and had over 80 demonstration rooms going throughout the weekend. The hotel was perfect, the seminars interesting and well attended and there was lots of music…both recorded and live. Steve’s a musician so there’s always live music happening in the halls and in the lounge.

Saturday afternoon, I gave my presentation, which was entitled, “2014: Is this the year of High-Resolution Audio?”. It was great to see about half of the auditorium seats occupied with interested audiophiles during my 1-hour talk. The key points of my session dealt with the question of provenance and full disclosure and the “artist’s intent” with regards to their music. I talked about the question of “remastering” vs. retransferring analog master tapes and how I think the Pono folks could benefit from the inclusion of some “real HD-Audio” amidst the usual so-called HD files.

Frankly, I think it was one of the best presentations that I’ve given…the energy was just right from 4:45 – 5:45 on Saturday. And the message was delivered. One audience member answered the question posed in the titleā€¦”so what you’re saying is ‘no’, this is not going to the year of HRA”. I was a little pessimistic.

Then it was time to spend a meal with my younger brother and his lovely 13-year old triplet daughters. You can imagine how much fun I had at dinner with my nieces…it was great. I especially appreciated the effort that my brother put out to drive 2 hour plus from Mahomet to Chicago and back. Thanks Lee.

By Sunday afternoon, I had to hand the remote controller off to Robert from German Physiks and venture out of the Madison Ballroom and visit some of the other rooms. I immediately went up to the 12th floor and checked out the Benchmark room. They also do a great job and this year they had the new AHB2, an amplifier that meets the demanding specifications of their state-of-the-art DACs.

Then I proceeded to the end of the hall, also on the 12th floor, where I visited the room of the local McIntosh and Martin Logan dealer. He had a surround set of electrostatic speakers and two powered subs set up in a room that featured lava lamps, black light posters and wildly colored drapes on all of the walls. The room was very 60s chic.

But the music that was played was 5.1 multichannel from the likes of The Flaming Lips, Fleetwood Mac and Santana. I managed to get the center chair and I wouldn’t have left if I hadn’t received a text message from the group downstairs that the crates had shown up and they wanted to close up the room. Listening to great commercial recordings done in 5.1 surround is always a treat.

The AXPONA show was the best show that I’ve attended in a long time. I met a lot of readers and customers during the event. And I got to show off my recordings to John Hamm and lots of other visitors to the Madison Ballroom.


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.

2 thoughts on “AXPONA 2014: Day 3

  • Michial McElhaney

    I was very happy that you actually found time to visit that room up on the 12th floor with the lava lamps playing SACD surround music which demonstrated the benefits of hearing Audio in Surround sound. I also found myself not wanting to leave the room for quite some time, the setup was exceptional fulfilling the auditory senses.

  • Russ Stratton

    Hey Mark,

    At Newport I’ll be playing back 5.1 multi-channel music at various times in the Zu Audio room. Check it out if you can.



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