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.

10 thoughts on “New HiFi Streaming For US & UK Introducing Tidal

  • September 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm
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    I want to reply to a very narrow issue: lossless compression and “mucking around with the bits”. With digital signals here at Audio Precision we are often concerned with “bit accuracy”. Is every single bit in stream B exactly the same as in stream A? If so, there is no degradation. Full fidelity has been maintained.
    In terms of bit accuracy, the lossless codecs we have tested (FLAC, Dolby TrueHD [Meridian Lossless Packing] and dts-HD Master Audio) perform perfectly. Every single bit out of millions and millions of bits is right there where it belongs, exactly the right number in exactly the right order. So the file size is “compressed”, but the audio assuredly is not. It is exactly the same as the PCM original. So I would be comfortable in terming a product that uses FLAC as a distribution format as “uncompressed”. Whether or not it was “compressed” before distribution is another question.
    David Mathew
    Audio Precision

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    • September 4, 2014 at 2:47 pm
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      I guess I would love to see some sort of descriptor that segregates uncompressed from losslessly compressed even if the bits are identical.

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  • September 4, 2014 at 1:48 pm
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    Been using WiMP HiFi for a while now – location Denmark.
    I am quite content!
    Only drawback is the missing ‘gapless playback’.

    As long as I don’t know the origin of the files labelled as ‘highres’, I’ll stick to CD’s (ripped or physical) or FLAC-streaming.

    MM

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    • September 4, 2014 at 2:48 pm
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      Have you compared the sound to the Spotify streams?

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  • September 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm
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    I’m surprised you didn’t jump on them for their graph. It gives the impression that the lossless 44/16 file is twice as good as the lossy 320 KBPS while your Fidelity/Resolution graph from the May 14 post shows that a 320 file can indeed be “near CD” quality.

    As for Spotify quality, I am a longtime Spotify subscriber and I have made numerous listening comparisons of the 320 ogg vorbis files to my own ripped-from-CD FLAC files. I’d say your graph portrays the difference just about right. The CD does sound better, but not by that much. (Note: my setup streams the ogg files “bit perfect” from Spotify to the DAC and they sound real good. I believe most listeners have only heard Spotify that’s been processed by their computer’s sound mixer and then played through the computer’s sound card. That’s why you hear such varied reviews of Spotify sound quality. Even when streaming to an external DAC Spotify gives you no easy way to bypass the mixer. Also there is a large difference in sound quality between the Spotify desktop app and their web-based player. Depending on the player that Tidal implements they could easily have similar kinds of issues.)

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    • September 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm
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      I feel like an idiot…I didn’t notice that it was a graph of “relative” sound qualities! I’ll have to edit the post and fix that.

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  • September 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm
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    I have no problem with referring to FLAC files as uncompressed because in the audio domain, that is correct and it is 100% identical to the original (as you already know). File compression is a good thing for utilizing bandwidth efficiently.
    Actually, I don’t have a problem with the graph either. It’s 100% factual. I agree that a 320Kbps file can yield excellent sound but it is an approximation of the real deal. Is FLAC four times better? I would say probably not but to some the point may be that marginally better is justification enough. It’s a subjective thing. At some point, people need to ask questions and understand the technology. Maybe even do some testing themselves to see if it is worth the extra money.
    Finally, I suspect that many folks are not tuned into sound quality like most of us here are. There may be some artists not be overly concerned with compressed dynamics and may actually enjoy hearing some of the low level details a little more easily.

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  • September 8, 2014 at 5:28 am
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    I think the most important reason to download at the highest possible resolution has a lot to do with future-proofing your purchase rather than simply pure audio bliss.
    If your current audio chain can reap the benefits then all the better as you are immediately getting the best of both worlds. However, it your present audio chain cannot reproduce the better sound you can easily downgrade the file to fit your current system. You will undoubtedly enjoy sound quality equal to or better than your other files but, most importantly, you still have the orginial high res file to fully enjoy when one eventually (inevitably?)moves to better audio gear.

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    • September 8, 2014 at 3:43 pm
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      I would agree with that but at what resolution do you stop gaining any benefit? Would you use 384 kHz/32-bits to do analog transfers?

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