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.

29 thoughts on “35 Million High-Resolution Tracks..Not!

  • August 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm
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    In simple terms, Pono is probably the last chance to re-engage the public at large to fine sound as a clear lifestyle benefit and the enhanced musical pleasure that comes along. While there are undoubtedly holes in the Pono cheese, getting way hung up about provenance rings of ” Holier than thou.” This is why I feel that nay-saying Pono is absolutely un-warranted, and that any effort to genuinely upgrade the median of sound quality available to the masses must be supported by all who prefer fine sound carrying the music, regardless of what tier of ‘better’ the material comes from. Better is better, period, and our ears reliably report ‘better sound.’ Mark, you are a David taking on Goliath and so is Neil Young. He just has a lot more $, iconic status, and is interested in a much bigger change than all the small labels combined. You yourself reported that even after 10 years of HD Trax, almost no one except serious participants knows who David Chesky is, or you too for that matter. If Pono is successful, all the smaller high-res labels will benefit as folks explore the new goodies. This is why I ask you to relax your standards a bit. The 24/96 download of the first CSN album may have come from an analog master, but it proves my point; it sounds incredibly better than any previous release on any other format. When that degree of sonic improvement is presented to our hearts and ears, why waste energy on semantic issues. Dynamite is dynamite, no matter what kind of package it’s in, and we must all bond together to get over the sonic hump and get folks ‘back where they belong.’ And one fabulously relevant lyric line also popped out of the CSN playback of Suite Judy Blue Eyes:”Don’t let the past, remind us of what we are not now.”

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    • August 3, 2014 at 9:17 am
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      Pono cerainly had the chance to do something special but they are a business just like any other…and making money comes first. If they had only stayed with the “high-resolution” stuff that the major labels have been transferring to 96/192 24-bits then they would have been at least as good as HDtracks (and we all know what that means). However, to partner with a company that is saying they have 35 million “high-resolution” tracks when we know that they are CD rips, I’m done. Their integrity just flew out the window.

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  • August 3, 2014 at 1:47 am
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    I lost my patience with Neil Young a long time ago when he refused to approve the transfer (the ones he could influence) of his albums to CD and at the same time missing the boat to DVD-Audio.

    And what will Pono Music add except financing for more middlemen?

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    • August 3, 2014 at 9:20 am
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      He’s been anti-CD for a long time and now is getting in bed with a company that says its CD transfers are high-resolution. It’s bad news.

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  • August 3, 2014 at 11:36 am
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    No where they state explicitly that they have 35 million “Hi-Res” tracks.

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    • August 3, 2014 at 11:42 am
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      From their website and the news about the Pono deal:

      “Standing at 35 million tracks, MusicStation – Omnifone’s cloud music platform – hosts the industry’s largest catalogue of high resolution content, obtained from rights holders in all corners of the world. This rich collection of premium quality audio – and its distributed delivery from the cloud – will enable PonoMusic to achieve global scale quickly.”

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      • August 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm
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        Should read “enable PonoMusic to make a lot of money on a global scale quickly.”
        This is SAD, a million miles away from what Neil had promised for his music catalog in the beginning.

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      • August 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm
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        While the PonoMusic MusicStation announcement is ambiguously worded, another page on the omnifone web site is much less ambiguous.

        http://www.omnifone.com/content/music-content-ingestion-and-publishing

        From the section “Formats for every device and network”:

        “Supported Bit Rates: 24 kbps, 48 kbps, 64 kbps, 192 kbps, 320 kbps, High Resolution”

        “Beyond compressed audio Omnifone excels in high resolution audio, holding the largest global catalogue (35 million tracks and growing) in 16/44.1kHz and the best content in resolutions up to 24/192kHz. High resolution audio represents the musical work as originally intended by the artist in the studio.”

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        • August 4, 2014 at 9:43 am
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          As I said, they don’t seem to understand what high-resolution means. The list that jumps from 320 kbps lossy formats to High Resolution is unambiguous. We move from lossy MP3s to high-resolution without passing through standard resolution CDs? The final quote says it perfectly, they believe that CDs are high-resolution…they miss the provenance, they miss the real meaning of specification, and because they need to be “high-res) they simply change the definition. There is no ambiguity at all. A CD is high-resolution in their estimation. Everything that Neil Young has railed against is not OK for Ponomusic.

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        • June 23, 2015 at 7:46 am
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          I guess ripping uncompressed WAV files from CD’s as FLAC is considered “High Resolution” now!

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  • August 13, 2014 at 6:31 pm
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    Still seems like the important point is being missed. You dump on 16/44, but WE ALL have heard great-sounding CDs from the likes of xrcd etc. If all CDs sounded like those, including Neil Young’s, why would we need hi-res? Hi-res is really a rejection of MP-3, not CD, and that’s where it should be aimed because MP-3 is what has caused the public to say ” We still love music, but we don’t listen like we used to” While 400 CDs languish in their cupboard, lack of a quality player and the seduction of convenient mediocrity is why they don’t . I know this is impossible to specify, but hey, any playback that sounds superb is welcomed into the family, and maybe showing folks how good their CDs can actually sound will cause them to want to explore hi-res. Disinterest in ever sitting down and listening will certainly not lead to an interest in hi-res.

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    • August 14, 2014 at 8:48 am
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      I don’t dump on CD spec…in fact, quite the contrary. It’s really a challenge to do better than Redbook CDs.

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      • August 14, 2014 at 11:26 am
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        Not so much dumping on CDs but implying by verbal and statistical means that CD at best is still sub-standard .I understand why such a stance is taken, because hi-res must noticeably exceed CD sonics or what’s the point? I just feel that CD has been way over-maligned from Day 1 to the public’s loss ultimately, and we know from the vinyl thing and even the cassette thing that once a huge number of these are in homes, they have a considerably longer ‘half-life’ than was predicted . Most folks have never heard their CD collections on a good, current player that reflects the maturity of this medium, let alone move quickly from 128 MP-3 to 24/96, although I’d sure love to see that happen, and I still believe that Pono is the only chance for hi-res to go big-time.Best,Craig

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        • August 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm
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          Craig…I’ve never said that CD are sub-standard. I believe a well recorded project on CD exceeds vinyl LP and and analog tape. Pono isn’t going to mean anything to anyone once people find out it will sound that same as what they’re used to….which can be really terrific.

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  • August 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm
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    I think you are getting worked up over nothing – the store sounds like it’ll be exactly like Qobuz. The core catalogue will be 16/44.1 and they will continue adding high resolution releases where possible. Pono aren’t in the business of re-mastering, they can only sell what the labels have in their libraries and make available – they haven’t made any secret of that. People expecting to get high resolution flat tranfers of albums have themselves up for a real disappointment.

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    • August 28, 2014 at 2:46 pm
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      I’m just bugged by the fact that nothing is really being done on the high-resolution audio front. I honestly thought that Neil would stand apart from the rest…but no. Ultimately, it’s about the money.

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      • August 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm
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        What do you mean nothing is really being done on the high-resolution audio front? They will be offering plenty of releases in high def resolution. At no point did they claim they were re-masering audio or even obtaining exclusive masters – although I notice on the Steve Hoffman forum, some people don’t understand this. Personally, standard lossless formats are way better than what iTunes, 7digital etc currently offer.

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        • August 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm
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          You’re going to get standard resolution transfers of older analog masters for $25-30 a pop. That’s disappointing. If there’s no real difference then the mass marketplace won’t care.

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          • August 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm
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            I would imagine they would be priced the same as CD – only the higher resolution files would be that much. The majority of digital masters are 44.1/16 – Pono have no control over that. The mass marketplace won’t care about hearing anything over CD quality anyway.

          • August 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm
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            Then why make the basis of your whole business “rediscovering the soul of music” if we’re only get the same old thing?

  • September 2, 2014 at 3:44 pm
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    I am not sure if the Pono will succeed but I would like to suggest that we might think of it as a successor to the
    Sony DiscMan (it played 44.1/16 cd) but did not have the capability for higher res. Now (with my limited understanding) with the Pono we will be a product for ‘the masses’ that hopefully will do 44.1/16 to an acceptable degree and also allow ‘tasting’ of higher res. material as well. Their ears will tell them what they need to know and the user can move up and down the ladder. This product will hopefully will be a tool for educating a lot of new listeners in an affordable and practical way.

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    • September 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm
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      But we already have that…why do we need to see Neil and his associates grab up $14 million to give us the same old thing? Makes no sense.

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  • September 9, 2014 at 6:21 pm
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    While the statement is misleading, this article clearly demonstrates a failure to comprehend what is written. There is only ONE meaning to this: “Standing at 35 million tracks, MusicStation – Omnifone’s cloud music platform – HOSTS the industry’s largest catalogue of high resolution content,…”

    Since apparently clearly written English has to be explained, this is what it means. Music Station has 35 million tracks. Within Music Station it hosts the largest catalog of hi-res content. It doesn’t say what the size of that content is or number it. It just claims to host the largest.

    If it is 1% of 35 million tracks I would be surprised. If you want to make a point that would be it. It does not say, in no way says, never says there are 35 million hi-res tracks. Your entire article is based on reading something into the statement that does not exist. So what are you getting on about? Surely you understood what it was really saying, didn’t you? Why all the sensationalism?

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    • September 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm
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      Because Neil’s Pono and Ponomusic have stated from the outset that they are all about high-resolution audio at 192 kHz/24-bits. If Omnifone is going to make its MusicStation catalog available as the backend of Ponomusic, then he’s standing way back from his original goal to get “back to the soul of music”. It seems we were already there.

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  • October 11, 2014 at 5:14 am
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    The false claims and marketing going on regarding Hi-res audio almost beggar belief! It seems that Pono/Omnifone and other sites are asking premium fees for music transferred from CD up to higher bit depths and sample rates (or in some cases, analog rips). There’s NO advantage – the process is NOT the same as ‘upsampling’ on a CD player.
    I’ve heard some 24/96 classical downloads that are unbearable to listen to, due to enhanced revelation of the source limitations (specifically, high frequency NOISE).

    Neil Young’s original specification was high-resolution copies of the studio masters (analog or >16/44.1 digital). If any of that should materialize – great! Otherwise, as things currently seem to be going, I would advise potential customers not to direct their money towards feeding the hype.

    I notice that many of the discussions online about the superiority of high-res downloads involve comparison with MP3. What many people fail to realize is that they’re still better off buying CDs, and then ripping to a *lossless* format. In addition to the audio, I personally would still rather have a physical example of liner notes & artwork to keep if I’m making a purchase – digital replacements for these have a long way to go at present.
    Clearly, vinyl also remains relevant.

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    • October 11, 2014 at 10:38 am
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      It’s a real drag to sit for a day and see the so called experts and celebrities talk about high-resolution.

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      • October 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm
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        I imagine so. The prospect of them making new money for repackaging “old rope” is surely worse still.

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  • January 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm
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    What studios are currently working with the 2″ ATR masters to reproduce/remaster existing music into these new High-res formats. I have only been into this for a few months now. I found that it is hit or miss and I and disappointed with 70% of my high-res purchases from the various online stores.

    I want to hear something missing from the CD audio which I already own. I do not wish to buy CD quality tracks over again.

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    • January 19, 2015 at 9:18 am
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      The use of 2″ ATR machines is extremely rare. I would guess there aren’t more than a few of these machines around. And why should there be? There is no benefit from going to all that trouble just to maintain an analog signal path. A good high-resolution PCM digital record/reproduce chain still outperforms them. Now having a really spectacular 2-track analog tape machine for making those initial transfers is what is really needed.

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