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.

15 thoughts on “Playing Surround Music Files Part III

  • August 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm
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    There is one setup you have not mentioned.

    Pretty much all of desktop computers’ video cards support audio-out via HDMI. Plug the HDMI from the desktop video card to the receiver, and then put pass-thru HDMI from the receiver to the monitor to regain video.

    This setup will allow multi-channel sound with a couple HDMI cables digitally instead of analog output which is quite depended on the quality of motherboard power, etc.

    But again, the real problem of multi-channel is price, not a complexity of the setup. With people will have smaller houses and less money in future and headphones dominate the market, I really do not see much potential on multi-channel now.

    However, there is a huge potential on binaural recordings, where headphones shine with them. I believe that’s what the industry should chase now, with majority people’s way of listening is headphones.

    Reply
    • August 9, 2014 at 9:38 am
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      Getting HDMI from a computer setup is quite common these days…you’re absolutely right. As for binaural, that a special subset of audio production and highly unlikely to catch any real marketshare. The Smyth Realiser, Astound Sound, Headphones[xi]™ est are realities that can shape surround in headphones.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2014 at 1:19 am
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    Hi Mark, I’d be interested in your view on this. In my experience, Multi-channel audio is so superior to stereo, that (if I had to) I would forego the best DAC’s. In other words, semi-pro DAC’s with Multi-channel audio is far more attractive to me than the very best in stereo. Just my view.

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    • August 9, 2014 at 9:39 am
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      As I’ve mentioned, there’s no comparison…multichannel done well blows away stereo. I’m in agreement with you on the DACs…getting an Oppe BDP-95 or 105 is the answer. Great quality without the huge price.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2014 at 6:15 am
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    A music lover all my life, I became an audiophile while an undergrad in the 60’s. My lifetime purchases of gear and music total more $ than I’d care to know; whatever … TOTALLY worth it. I

    In 2003 I built a (then) SOTA htpc. Am specing out another for this winter’s project. Have used jrmc for server software (intriguing/challenging learning curve but vast capacities) for ~5 yrs; just pre-ordered Vers 20.

    This winter I also plan to purchase the exaSound e28 which I’ve been following…due diligence…. So I very much hope you can evaluate and report.

    I look forward to your daily posts very much. Thank you for your diligence and sharing!

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    • August 9, 2014 at 9:41 am
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      Edward…you might want to check out the Aria Music Server modification to the Oppo BDP-105. I’ve done it and it’s remarkable…inexpensive and thoroughly capable of serving up an entire catalog of music at the touch of your iPad. I’ll reach out to George and see if I can get a review of the e28. It looks very impressive.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2014 at 6:59 am
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    Just a nit: pretty sure the Lynx Hilo is a true multichannel DAC that’s been out for a while, albeit accomplished with a hodgepodge of different output connectors that makes it a bit difficult to use for the consumer market.

    Reply
    • August 9, 2014 at 9:41 am
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      The Hilo is a very good board…but the cost is higher and it’s really intended for professional use.

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  • August 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm
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    Thank you Mark for the representation of these 6 set ups for playing multichannel music files through a high quality surround playback system. I would suggest a seventh method: a PC or MAC equipped with a multichannel sound card connected to an Oppo Player via a network (ethernet) connection, and visually managed with OPPO Remote Control for iPad. This should work, n’est-ce pas?

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    • August 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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      It will…I’m preparing today’s post that will add a couple more.

      Reply
  • August 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm
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    I hadn’t realized that you were so interested in multi-channel audio until your recent articles. I certainly agree the effect is very, very good and much more enjoyable than just stereo. I wonder if you could cut a deal to slip in one or a few sample multi-channel songs with JRiver software (most likely their MCxx, but the huge audience for their Pono app sure is tempting) to create some awareness for your high quality multi-channel stuff.

    Still thinking out-of-the-box but waaay outside my areas of knowledge, can you take a stereo master to create a multi-channel version of a song meaningfully better than the synthesized multi-channel creation that JRiver can do with a stereo song with their MCxx app? That certainly would seem potentially lucrative, if you could get Pono to help you create such versions from the Omnifone library or via labels more directly. The deal might be a nightmare to figure out from a licensing perspective, but maybe not if desired by the very top leadership of Pono. I could see how Pono would potentially be interested, since it would open up the home audio (non-portable) market in a unique way that I don’t see anyone doing in a big way right now. Perhaps a toblerone-like multichannel DAC/media server would play such songs…

    Reply
    • August 9, 2014 at 4:44 pm
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      Extracting 5.1 surround sound from stereo has been tried for many years. I’ve never been convinced that it works…at least compared to getting the multitracks and mixing for real.

      Reply
  • January 26, 2016 at 9:51 am
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    What about a network connection to your A/V receiver, allowing you to pull 5.1 files from a networked PC or Hard drive (NAS)? Current receivers - including the new Pioneer Elites, some of which come with 32-bit asynchronous DACs – can all be connected to a good home network via Ethernet. Most provide some sort of downloadable app that allows you to navigate to the files on other networked devices, including your PC or network-attached storage drive.

    How would you compare this method?

    I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this in a longer article, since it’s a very easy, accessible method for anyone who has a few devices networked at home. Many people with networked music systems like Sonos, for example, now have NAS-drives with tons of music files. I’ve placed 5.1 flacs on my NAS and played them on my Onkyo A/V receiver. Seems to work really well.

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    • January 26, 2016 at 11:14 am
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      I’ll prepare a piece on this subject asap. Thanks.

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      • January 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm
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        Awesome – can’t wait to learn more about this. It’s interesting to see the recent proliferation of $1,000 and up digital music players when a simple ethernet connection now turns most A/V receivers or good pre-processors into a digital music player.

        Reply

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