Dr. AIX's POSTS — 19 July 2014

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What’s the best way to convince the uninitiated that there are better musical experiences beyond their usual setup? For certain demographics it’s not terribly hard to make an impression. For someone used to listening to heavily compressed AAC files on their iPod through a $2.00 pair of ear buds, it’s not too difficult to impress them with a reasonably good stereo system. However it’s much more challenging when the audience is comprised of real music fans…even audiophiles. Listeners in this category may have good systems of their own or have visited an audiophile friend and been given the full demo treatment. They get it…or at least they think they do.

I’m confronted with this situation all the time. The AXPONA show in Chicago in April, the Jungle City Studios demo in NYC last month, the presentation I gave last week in the Midwest or the new downloadable sampler I’m preparing all required the selection of great sounding tracks that provide that special musical mojo that connects with music fans. I often hear comments like those contained in this email from last week:

“…After finding out about you and your wonderful music I purchased Amarra for Mac, and Guitar Noir (2.0 Stereo – PCM 24_96) – I have never heard such clear, wonderful sound; it sounded like Laurence Juber was sitting in my room playing his guitar.

Now for my question. Although I can’t find any downloadable music anywhere that competes with yours, I love prog rock music from the ’70s. Emerson, Lake & Palmer just released their 40th Anniversary release of Brain Salad Surgery (Deluxe Edition). It costs about $3 more to get this from [DOWNLOAD SITE X] compared to purchasing the CD from Amazon. However, would it be worth the $3 extra to purchase the [DOWNLOAD SITE X] version over the CD from Amazon? I don’t want to spend anymore than I have to, but I do want to get the best sound I can get.

I appreciate everything you are doing to provide the best audio quality there is, and if you were able to provide ALL music in your quality, I would never give another penny to anyone else for music.” [NOTE: I wish it were possible!]

New converts to real high-resolution music get it…but many times they can’t get the style of music that they like in the quality they prefer. The “classic” productions of the past AND many (if not most) of the new recording being released adhere to the traditional audio production path…and are decidedly LoFi. Their methods have worked for decades, so why change it now?…is the attitude of the record industry.

I’m lucky. I have an entire catalog of great sounding tracks that span a very wide range of musical genres. I can pull a great vocal track from John Gorka or Jennifer Warnes and then follow that with an intimate piece of chamber music played by the Old City String Quartet. But what about the sales reps and retail folks that need to impress potential customers during a brief sales presentation. They’ve got one shot at it and they need to drop the customer’s jaw with impressive sound and great music.

During my recent trip to the Midwest, Peter Chaikin (the head of professional sales at JBL) and his associate from the luxury product side of the company handled getting the JBL M2 Reference Speakers shipped to the location AND setup correctly (it turned out to be a nightmare thanks to UPS, a broken pallet and a challenging acoustic space). My hats are off to them and especially JBL for making these amazing speakers available for the demonstration.

So the system is all ready but what do you play? I offered up a collection of 6 tracks and the JBL guys contributed a few more files from their collection. Remember these guys are constantly looking for the tracks that make their hardware shine. What did they play?

I’ll share that information tomorrow and talk about some additional challenges when it comes time to distribute a collection of great sounding tracks.

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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.

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