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.

11 thoughts on “Been There Done That

  • Craig Allison

    High resolution is a very simple concept. It’s called “first generation” Whether in disc or download form, any iteration that is essentially a (perfect) copy of the master tape can and should be called high resolution regardless of audio content, although master tape grade audio is usually quite good. No music lover can ask for any better than having the master tape available in their home. Many of the vaunted older jazz and classical recordings actually show sonic shortcomings under today’s microscope, but again, a properly mastered SACD or 24/96 download that gives ‘first gen sound’ is all we can ask for. It does not have to be the latest and greatest sonics. Simply put, a completely faithful transfer of a master tape is automatically hi-res in my book.

    • The idea that anything that is “first generation” is automatically “high-resolution” doesn’t ring true for me. The concept of “first generation” is already troublesome since any analog transfer diminishes that fidelity of the next generation. I would venture to say that virtually no consumers have every experience a “first generation” analog recording. Digital is another thing entirely…because each “generation” is identical to the previous one.

      Having access to the very best version of a particular recording is a laudable goal. But different mastering engineers, different markets and different types of music all contribute to different “best available” recordings.

      If I was to accept your definition of hi-res, then there’s no reason to differentiate between generations of recording gear, techniques, fidelity etc. The term loses meaning. It does mean something in video…but so far it doesn’t in audio.

      • Craig Allison

        I easily understand your reasoning, but still feel that ‘first gen”= hi-res. Yes, analog transfer infers degradation, but looking all the way upstream, a lot of those ‘golden age/ golden ear recordings used very short signal paths, tube mic preamps and consoles, and minimalist microphone techniques. Those are compensatory factors that all the modern digital studio technology is without, and format conversions are not a good thing. I just think that your stance is at least partially about advancing AIX records, understandable but not w/o bias. Yes, I’m a professional, but as a recording artist who has used an Ampex ATR-100 live to two track, running 1/2″ tape @30ips for days and days of sessions, I do know the difference between the whole audio freight train sound and what it sounds like when you squeeze it all into the dining car. And I think that the MP-3 drenched masses will sure as hell notice the 24/96 difference too; I don’t believe there is room for cynicism or negativity just as hi-res publicly raises its’ head.

        • Craig…we’ll just have to agree to disagree. First generation does equal anything other than the original master. I am all about advancing AIX Records and the way to do that is to establish degrees of fidelity. HD-Audio or High-Resolution Audio should mean something.

  • High resolution by logical definition must mean a higher than normal resolution, right? Simple?
    What is normal resolution?
    Is CD normal?, or is mp3 normal? Maybe cassette tape is! How about reel-to-reel?
    Doesn’t it depend on who you ask and what they listen to music with?
    Therefore Any betterment of their norm is high resolution, BY DEFINITION and then HR can be just about any recording. Content it not relevant.

    But we are talking about the original recording only. If we are going to label something definitively HR, it should ONLY be the original master recording that gets that definition. Either it was captured from the microphone with the most ACCURATE possible technology currently available or it doesn’t qualify-period! That’s the only way to ensure that HR means something. Why tie a specification to current limitations?

    What is the most ACCURATE current technology is purely objective. But it’s current technology.
    I believe this is what High Resolution should mean: “The most accurate technology available at the time the recording was made, was used to capture the performance” . The technology specs should be indicated as well.
    Of course the definition changes with advances in technology. Always has, always will!
    20 years from now 24 bit- 192khz recordings won’t be HR anymore.
    It’s Not so simple!

    • Specfications and the terms we associate with them have meaning…and are not subjective. For example, NTSC D1 resolution video or “Standard Definition” TV is 720 x 486 while Ultra HD Video is 3640 x 2160 pixels. Analog tape, CDs, reel-to-reel are standard definition audio as represented by dynamic range, frequency response and other characteristics. MP3, AAC and other lossy compressed files are “reduced resolution” in my lexicon. When we move to 96 kHz/24-bits, we arrive at HD-Audio specs or HRA. In 20 years it will still be HRA and if other future technologies can up the fidelity then they might be called ultra HD-Audio. The point is specifications and definitions are not just relative and subjective…they relate specific quality levels.

      • Craig Allison

        I think you’re getting a little OCD about the terminology, and perhaps using that thread to lead to your own specific output. Let’s look at it another way. The Rolling Stones SACD releases were highly lauded in all the audiophile press. Now, I’m a Stones freak but I’d never tell you their albums have great sonics. But, having heard their music in every format and level of playback quality over the decades, I will swear on my Mom’s grave that those puppies put the master tape in your room. Wide bandwidth, spatial qualities ,far greater dynamic swings, and natural vocal sound are the giveaways that you are at the first gen point and anyone would hear the difference. I have much respect for you Mark, but those puppies are HI-RES because they reveal the complete, original sound. BTW, the Pure Audio Blu-ray of Exile on Main Street has the same evident qualities that go sonically way beyond previous releases of that classic work. The Edison cylinder comment I’ll put aside, since that is reductum ad absurdium. Loosening up a little bit doesn’t mean dropping your audio standards drawers. What more can anyone ask for than an accurate replica of the master tape playing in their home? When you reply please answer this last query w/o splitting provenance hairs. Thank You.

        • We all want as good as it can get…and if that’s the master quality, then we have to live with it. I actually thought the Edison cylinder comment made a very valid point. It’s the extreme but still true.

  • Bruce B.

    If your source material is garbage whether analog or digital does in no way imply a standard of “High Resolution”. To speak to the generation statement, if you record from an analog master to another analog media its has to be impossible to not lose quality due to azimuth, wow & flutter, or even the cabling and equipment. Oops I forgot dropouts! I used to take my brand new records, set the levels on my Nakamichi Dragon in hopes of preserving the LP for awhile. Granted I was using consumer grade equipment, albeit great stuff for its day, the generational degradation drove me nuts (a very short trip). That’s what I perceive Doc Waldrep’s focus to be, come up with the best standards and practices of audio recording, properly labeling of what it is or isn’t. The consumer’s best interests will be realized with the good doctors intentions and the senseless battle he’s in with the big labels and the suits that run them. The labels have everything to gain because there will always be nutty people like me willing to pay for premium content that brings us much closer to the impossible- having Pink Floyd and Steely Dan perform live in my house.

  • Andras Sz.

    For me, “Advanced Resolution” in audio is a deja vu for “HD-Ready” in video. Something which is “better than the CD” (DVD), however no doubt, the information content is not equivalent with the higher grade/aim (Full-HD).
    The parallelism is not perfectly correct, as HD-Ready is an equipment “standard” and not a content/recording one.
    In video arena HD-Ready finally was thwarted by “Full-HD”, and even the HD-Ready spec have been officially existing, it is obsolete by now. The video industry has already moved further, now 4K/8K is the magic word. But today we can enjoy the full hd resolution (content and equipment) even via mainstream broadcasting and TV channels.
    The superiority of Full HD (to DVD or even HD-Ready) is not a question any more, one can check it day-by-day via his/her TV set (in my country I can watch some channels both in SD – yes, Eastern-Europe – for the sake of compatibility with old equipment, and in Full-HD resolution as well). My wife has got no complaint at all NOW, why I bought Full HD TV ten years before (however by that time there was no HD channel at all).

    But what about “HD Music” (intentionally not used the HRA)? How can you compare the CD quality with HRA? Just planning to upgrade my HIFI set it is very hard task to find an EXTENSIVE SET of compelling material to present to my wife (even without price tag), and to proof to her, that our existing musics will be available in HRA…
    I absolutely agree with Dr. AIX, “Remastered” or any “upscaled” version is not higher resolution – can not be demoed. The troubles with the “fake” high resolution downloads (HD Track rumors, etc.) does not help also.
    So business justification is hard for the relatively few existing records, and not only with my wife.

    Can new class introduction and definition help? (See Dr. AIX post about Ultra HD-Audio) Or wide propagation of existing HRA materials will solve the problem as it was with HD-Ready? I do not know.
    What shall I upgrade now? Is it enough to install OLNY 24/96 capable DAC (e.g. LINN player), and suffering from HD-Ready case? Or shall I upgrade to minimum 24/192 or even higher (my existing already 24/192)? From one side majority of the available materials are not even 24/96, from other side much higher standards and industry specs/equipment are exist already.

    I try to hear music and not speakers, cables, etc. The majority of my favorites do not exist in HRA (SACD problems/constraints well known). Even if I am a HRA fun, how can I get my favorites in HRA if almost all of them was recorded to analog tape, and some/many of their musicians already passed away…

    I agree, “Advanced Resolution” and majority of “remastered” are a fake. Maybe we have to accept the One-eye-is-a-king-amongst-blinds effect and enjoy AR or remastered quality for the non-repeatable past recordings. However I personally hope that for the recent and new records the real HRA or “Ultra HDA” will be available sooner or later, and Advanced Resolution or remastered half-solutions will be placed to memory shelf next to HD-Ready.


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