Dr. AIX's POSTS — 23 October 2014


I know and count as friends a large number of professional recording engineers. Among them are Grammy nominees/winners and engineers that have worked with some of the biggest music acts on the planet (including the Stones, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder etc). The recent AES Convention presented an opportunity to meet some new friends and catch up with s few old ones. And as you might have guessed, I brought up the subject of high-resolution audio to a number of them. Strolling the aisles of the show, I also stopped random individuals and asked them about high-resolution audio as well…a sort of “man in the aisles” impromptu poll.

Here’s a brief report on my some of those conversations and the results of my questioning:

Outside of our little world…almost no one knows what high-resolution is or has even heard about it. This was quite surprising to me. Wouldn’t you expect the engineers recording the next big hit or album would want to be current with the latest engineering trends? Well, perhaps they are…and high-resolution audio isn’t one of them. Of roughly 20 people that I polled, only about 30% had any clue what high-resolution audio was. About half had heard the term but couldn’t really provide any more information than, “it’s when you use run Pro Tools at 96 kHz or higher, right”. A couple of analog traditionalists brought up the resurgence of analog tape and vinyl LP in referring to high-resolution audio. When challenged I got the usual responses…”analog is infinite resolution”, “I just like the sound of analog better”, and “no one can tell the difference between a CD and high-res audio…so why bother?”

The reality is that engineers don’t really have the facts and they don’t really care. Their goal is to produce recordings that the labels and producers are willing to release…not ones that actually sound good.

Another interesting discussion that I had with more than one engineer is the lunacy of audiophiles. When I said that I owned and operated an audiophile record label, the responses ran the gamut from comments with a decidedly “Twilight Zone” cast or to ones that actually tried to understand the motivations of audiophiles. I think the best conversation I had was with a very successful engineer and studio owner (multiple facilities, in fact). When I mentioned some of the “accessories”, “tweaks”, and cable costs that are pitched to audiophiles, he rolled his eyes and said, “don’t audiophiles know that we don’t use any of that stuff while we’re making records?” I responded that I think many are aware of the basics of audio production but they feel that they can get more out of the tracks with exotic cables, special treatments, and hocus pocus accessories.

This is a touchy area with professionals. They regard what they do as alchemy…a blend of technology, artisanship, and inspiration. What they hear from their monitor speakers (JBL, DynAudio, Tannoy, ATC etc…not Wilson or Magico) is what they approve. And the artists usually approve the final mixes and mastered tracks on their own home systems. I’ve seen artists approve final masters on the built in speakers on their tour busses.

Finally, there are occasions when you learn something from a veteran that you didn’t know. I bumped into Allen Sides outside of the paper sessions area of the show and got chatting briefly. He told me that the Studer machines that The Beatles used form many of their early records had the low end restricted by an Abbey Road tech. I hadn’t heard that before. He told me that he had heard that the machines wouldn’t handle anything lower than 40-60 Hz and that’s why the low end is so thin on those albums. Interesting.

Audio magazines would do a big favor to the audiophile community if they would concentrate on less pricey equipment and explore the studios where the music is actually produced.

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About Author


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.

(46) Readers Comments

  1. I agree with your recommendation to audio magazines.

  2. Mark, you make good points, and I hope to add here. I have considerable recording experience at a fine local studio that has Grammy too. Way back in 1983, I cut a ’45’, live, with my band. Of course, I heard the master repeatedly on the big UREI monitors. When the record arrived, I immediately played it on a high-end turntable and cartridge through super clean electronics and a pair of B&W 801’s back at our shop. Well, guess what? I heard more musical information playing the final generation on an ‘audiophile’ system than I ever did hearing the master at the studio!!!
    Respected as they should be, some of those pro’s you spoke with who derided audiophile practice have studios that generate the exact same result. They use colored monitors as tools; accuracy is not the concern, but commercial imperatives instead.

    When I set out to record the group on Ampex ATR-100, live to two track running 1/2 ” tape at 30ips for an album, my contention that the pro idea of “translating” is bogus was proven beyond any doubt. If you make a recording that sounds fabulous on a true, high-accuracy “audiophile” playback system ,IT WILL SOUND GOOD ON ANYTHING. If I play my stuff on a boom-box, it grows testicles and shows enhanced clarity due to lack of generations and no ruining of the sound with processing devices.

    Outfits such as CBS records maintain totally state of the art facilities separately; because artists like Herbie Hancock do not care for typical studio playback and demand acoustical instrument accuracy, something many of those big monitors do not come close to; poor tonal balance, not revealing, fully dimensional, or expressive enough. To finish, my local studio colleagues purchased a pair of very flat,” honest” Snell full-range loudspeakers from me, and they still use them all these years later to determine final mastering decisions. They regularly snake business from the big L.A. studios, BTW. Audiophile as negative term? Please!! Yes, audio voodoo is b.s., but you’d be surprised to know that many hi-fi folks have plenty audio common sense, and appreciate a nuts and bolts approach such as I take. Didn’t you learn from somebody too?

    Last bit, definition of audiophile :” A person who buys better and better equipment to prove that the recordings are no good.” Pathetic, but not typical. I hope you get a chuckle.

    • There are some recording studios that have terrific monitoring systems and it is required for a mastering room. Speakers are probably the most important component in the playback chain. A professional recording studio usually has several different speaker types…small ones, soffit mounted, and headphones…to check mixes and sounds on. If the artists and engineers are listening and approving their productions in the studio, then that the sound they choose. Any further monkeying with timbral controls etc. just moves the sound in a direction that pleases the end user. No problem…that’s part of the game.

      Chuckle akcnowledged.

      • At least you used the word ‘some’, implying that my basic contentions are valid. The entire ‘pro’ mentality is very different from high-end audio, and even uses a very different vocabulary to often describe or state the same thing. Bass is called “the bubble,” and the sheet of Charmin toilet paper on the NS-10 tweeter ” takes the fizz out.”
        Mark, you often reply to some flat statements very indirectly. I did not pick up a response to my story of making a record and hearing more music off the final gen on “audiophile” gear than off the master tape at a perfectly fine studio, or my confirmed belief that a recording made to sound great on great gear will sound good on anything.
        Glad you got the chuckle.

    • Great post Craig! And keep this in mind….some audiophiles, like myself, are musicians too.

      In the audiophile community, we are well aware of the BS/Voodoo/snake oil. And most of us don’t like the voodoo either – and most of us don’t buy into it either.

      As for the price of high end gear, you’re preaching to the converted. The prices (especially of European made gear) is absurd. That being said, you cannot find a good sounding amp or pair of speakers for $100. R&D and good parts/build quality cost money. Trust me, audiophiles are always looking for value…..they don’t set out to spend the most. They want to spend smartly. If they are spending foolishly without knowing what they are buying, they are rich, not audiophiles….even though I admit, the two often do go hand in hand!

      There aren’t loads of great new recordings, but I would consider the new album by Vanessa Fernandez called “Use Me” as an example of a great modern day recording…..in case any of you are curious of what audiophiles like myself consider a great modern recording.

      As Craig mentioned, if a recording sounds great on a decent hifi system, it will sound great on anything.

  3. The insanity just continues to escalate.
    Just got the Nov 14 issue of Stereophile in the mail today and the attacks on the digital community are growing by the day.
    Best article is the As We See It by Steve Guttenburg. He make a very valid point that basically the loudness wars has been completely lost in the popular music recording community and if you read between the lines is saying that investing in high end equipment is a waste of money if your main interest is popular music. He’s right, all you get is a better reproduction of highly distorted recording., The better the system, the worse it sounds.
    Art Dudley post a three page rant on how double blind listening tests are for and designed by idiots.
    By the way, Fremer does give you kodos for the sound of your Christian Jacob piano recital. Then goes on to express his GREAT surprise that you would engineer a all-analog recording. It’s in his Analog Corner article.
    I could go on but there’s no sense in it. This months mag is one of the most snake oil filled bunch of BS they’ve ever published. The majority of todays SPH writers have gone round the bend with greed over income from their $1000.00 a meter cable advertisers, etc,
    J Gordon Holt is rolling in his grave.

    • I’ll have to check out the new issue…but I don’t hold much hope. They want to sell ads and continue their businesses. Telling people the truth is a bad idea if it diminishes demand for their magazines AND the products that they promote.

      The Christian Jacob jazz piano record was a wonderful project. I was hired by Christian to engineer the project. It was not my production and therefore I’ll do whatever he wants. We made a total analog recording and a high-resolution digital one. You can download a selection from both versions at the FTP site. I prefer the digital one…and the artist did too.

      • So is Chris a conve rt now, will he request the.next project just be done in HD digital?

      • Nothing I write now or ever has anything whatsoever to do with advertising and that’s a fact.

    • I would agree to a great extent.

    • Kudos…

  4. We have just finished the Australian Audio Visual show here in Melbourne where it’s always interesting to see what new toy is on the block. One exhibitor had the A&K AK120 and AK240 digital audio players where you could listen to hi-res audio through OPPO PM-1 Planar Magnetic headphones. When asked if the music played was true hi-definition audio the answer was “of course they are flac files”. I also auditioned the (AU$6,000 +) Stax head speakers and accompanying equipment but wasn’t terribly impressed. Maybe it’s just me.
    Only one exhibitor that I visited, Bill, from http://www.mcleans.info had anything from AIX Recording and played through his system including Magneplanar 1.7 speakers was really beautiful.
    Nobody seemed too interested in 5.1 audio saying it was for home video systems and that music dropped back to stereo anyway. I asked those people to look up realhd-audio.com


    • Ric…I would love to get a copy of he book (if there was one associated with the show). I love the FLAC quote…amazing. Thanks for the note.

  5. Hi Mark,
    I question the “low end restriction” regarding the Studers at Abbey Road.
    I have read that the masters of “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” were sent back at the time for fear of the needle jumping out of the groove for the domestic user. 40 cycle notes in this recording are as clear a bell to me???

    • I believe Allen was talking about earlier recordings. I should research this more fully.

      • Any bass limiting took place during mastering even on the early recordings–especially on the early recordings. An individual at Abbey Road was assigned to play lacquer cuts by Harry T. Moss, playing them on the “kiddie” phonographs of the day. If the lacquer skipped it was called a “kangaroo cut” and rejected. It was then recut until it would play on that “kiddie” phonograph, which usually meant a bass and/or dynamic range cut. If you compare an original early Beatles album to the recently reissued mono LP box set issued directly from the original tapes–no digital involved– you will hear that there was plenty of very well recorded bass on those tapes and all of it made it to vinyl. Unlike the stereo box set, where you can hear bass boost, none was applied on the mono set so the bass is less obtrusive and far more natural. Good fun: compare the mono CD box set to the mono LP box set. Try it, you’ll get why vinyl sales are growing. It has nothing to do with “hipsters” or “collectibles”. It has a great deal to do with sound.

        • I’m going to write to Allen and Brian Kehew (one of the co-authors of Recording the Beatles) and see if they can shed any additional light on this subject. Michael, I would welcome the opportunity to audition a great vinyl LP system. I certainly am not going to purchase the equipment, however. As to the size of the “growing” vinyl LP marketplace…it’s still less than 2%.

  6. “Audio magazines would do a big favor to the audiophile community if they would concentrate on less pricey equipment and explore the studios where the music is actually produced.”

    that could not be said better!

  7. Audiophile silly equipment stuff is just typical for hobbyists– you will see it in many other fields as well. The varying attitudes that recording engineers and artists take towards the production process is best viewed on the usual bell curve of human endeavors: most will take a middle path in creating what quality they can given their talents, equipment, time and money, while similar numbers at the extremes will either take great care to create a work of high quality or a minimal amount of time to just get it done. The main limitations for moving the middle are not trivial: time, money, experience, interest. The improvements in recording technology that you have detailed over the years have had a decidedly mixed effect since allowing production work to be done for less cost works on all areas simultaneously. The good work gets cheaper, but so does the cheap stuff. The reality is that quality always has a limited market in any human endeavor because it requires that many things come together to create both supply and demand. The audio magazines are a different story– they are not “Consumer Reports”. They have a business to run and it does not help to scare off advertisers. At the end of the day, they have to eat too. I am not implying that they are dishonest. I think the fault is with the readers: many of us are a credulous bunch who believe in the triumph of hope over experience and have fallen prey to our Western Culture’s obsession with the “Expert”. I think we need to take a stand that the aesthetic principles that distinguish shit from Shinola begin at home. Many thanks for your tireless efforts in exposing the former. I enjoy your posts.

    • Thanks for the note. Most of the times superior quality is associated with a higher price. That’s not necessarily true any longer. My Mac Mini and Benchmark can outperform dedicated CD players costing ten times as much.

    • Your comments about advertising are dumb. And I’m being kind.

      • Mr. Fremer, calling the comments about advertising “dumb” is not a refutation. No insult was implied or expressed in what I wrote, though insult was apparently expressly implied in your comment. Without a doubt, the majority of the income from your employer’s magazine is derived from advertising and not subscription sales. I suspect this is true of the various websites you participate in as well. For you to assert otherwise indicates that you are either ignorant of the actual business model of your employer or something worse. Moreover, as a professional writer, you should be able to parse another’s writing with better assiduity. To state that audio magazines are in the business of selling advertising is not an insult– it is merely a fact. In addition, it is not an insult to undicate that you have to be careful about not alienating advertisers. That is again a simple fact of being in business. There are precious few business that can be indifferrent about offending their major clients. It is simply not an insult to say that your efforts are on behalf of a business. Though it appears that you can afford to be indifferent about insulting your subscribers, as I am one. I suspct this is because I am correct about your business model, since my subscription fee is a rather small contribution to your magazine income. It is difficult for me to imagine you would have responded thus had I been recognized as an major advertiser.

  8. Interesting read and this mirrors my own experiences this summer touring recording studios. The biggest shock for me, was the amount of DSP studios use.

    Is this why a lot of live albums today sound so much more natural, have a more normal “flow” to the music than the equivalent of processed food, sliced and diced recordings we get today? I watched many times how a song was chopped up and edited and digitally “corrected” – one millisecond at a time.

    What I found was that for all the use of this latest and greatest technology, it doesn’t usually equate to great sounding albums on a good HiFi system. Is this why audiophiles are constantly recycling all the old (analog) recordings?

    To quote the above, “they regard what they do as alchemy…a blend of technology, artisanship, and inspiration.” What I witnessed was a love affair with the technology. Much more “computer science” than artisanship and inspiration. An Artisan doesn’t sit their at a MacIntosh computer with cheap mini monitor speakers that are barely above the sonic quality of the ones that came free with my PC, editing one millisecond at a time….”bleep blurp, bleep blurp, bleep blurp.”

    All this DSP processing and digital regurgitation might be fine for ear buds or a car stereo, but not for a half decent HiFi system. And if I’m being brutally honest, those with HiFi systems these days is a small fraction compared to those who will listen on ear buds or their car stereo. So, I suspect, they are merely catering to their primary audience. It’s too bad that recording is more about what the bean counters want and the computer geeks “create” than what music should really be about. The great recording engineers of yesteryear could certainly teach these computer geeks a thing or two.

    Want to hear an example? Have a listen to Adele 21….it’s abysmal sounding. Now, find a copy of “Make You Feel My Love, Adele” on the Bob Dylan Chimes of Freedom Album. That song was recorded live in a radio station. Compare that live recording to the abysmal studio recording. ’nuff said.

    • Very insightful comments. Sounds like you learned a lot from your tour. Record production has become a very mechanized process…perfection of every recorded sound is required. Say but true.

  9. I have to just laugh at the sarcasm and cynicism here about “audiophiles.” I doubt most of you have actually heard a great audio system so you are forgiven for your condescension. It is based on ignorance.

    The pros I’ve managed to snag for a listen to a really great system quickly lose their snotty attitude (the same one they accuse “audio fools” of having).

    And of course there are many pros who are also audiophiles. The notion that there’s an inherent divide is silly. I’ve visited Roy Halee’s home a number of times and he’s got quite the audiophile rig and he prefers vinyl. But what does the engineer/producer of many classical sessions and albums by Simon and Garfunkel, Dylan, The Byrds (etc.) know about good sound? (Answer: his recordings sound better than 90% of today’s tripe).

    I was at the AES in 1983 (could be one year on either side of that) when the CD was rolled out for the first time. They played Roxy Music’s “Avalon”. The sound was unbearable. While it played, all hard, flat and edgy, I said to myself “it’s new technology it will improve but so far blechh”.

    When the demo was over all of the engineers around me were Gobsmacked by the “fantastic” sound. Recorded sound has deteriorated from there but you’d need to visit an “audiofool” for demonstration of why that assertion is 100% correct.

    What’s particularly hilarious is the sour attitude towards the only people who are actually paying attention to your work.

    • Michael…welcome to the RealHD-Audio site. You never know who’s around reading the posts and comments. I read this morning that you mentioned Christian Jacobs vinyl LP project in the recent issue of TAS. I haven’t seen it yet but look forward to your comments.

      There is no doubt that some professional engineers are also audiophiles…and I agree that Roy Halee’s recordings are among the finest commercial tracks I’ve ever heard. The productions that are being created these days are troubling to be sure…but that not the digital format’s fault any more than it was the CD format back in 1983. High-resolution digital has the potential to eclipse any format yet devised in terms of accuracy, timbre, fidelity, etc. It’s only up to us engineers to take advantage of the potential…sadly few do.

      I consider myself to be an audiophile but I can’t accept the continued focus on over priced equipment, expensive accessories, power cables as big a boa constrictors, etc. Great sound can be delivered by small inexpensive portable devices…if the source is well done.

      • i don’t disagree Mark and I do review plenty of reasonably priced gear but as with cars, food and clothing while a KIA is a nice car a Lamborghini offers more, while you can get a decent meal at Panera bread, Del Posto offers much more and while you can look good in a Men’s Warehouse suit, try one on from Canali and call me in the morning. Same with audio and everything else in this world. As my mother used to say “You pay, you get.” Still true.

        • I’m all about quality…from source to delivery. I feel that too much of the time the emphasis at the magazines and online sites is on the gear and not on the productions. Another famous maxim, “garbage in equals garbage out”.

    • Great post Mike! I agree 100%.

      I would be curious to know how many artists know (or care) just how bad their recordings really sound.

    • Right on Michael. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And while there are a good number of recording engineers who grok to “audiophile values”, too many do not have the experience and savvy that such as Mr. Halee does, and thus the almost pathetic aversion to audiophiles, and shitty recordings. As with all chasms, the best place is somewhere in the middle.
      IMHO, any recoding studio that claims to be top shelf must have a separate, high-accuracy, high-end system in a proper room on premises. While some clients will never leave the big monitors in the control room, others, including the recoding engineers themselves, should have the ability to find out what their recordings actually do sound like; couldn’t hurt, eh? (Pardon the sarcasm.) Best, Craig

    • Many of the people who participate on this site do have wonderful sound systems costing thousands of dollars. Nonetheless, there is a lot of snake oil sales in this business. To deny such a thing is to cast doubt upon your own integrity. Do you mean to imply that you have never encountered audiophile products that appear to be nothing more than a means of bilking the credulous? For those of us who consistently read this site, a large appeal is Mark’s educating us at being more savy consumers of music. He has taught many of us how to be able to judge whether things asserted to be “high resolution” truly are. In many respects, that is more helpful than a simple review, as per the old maxim regarding the giving of fish and the teaching of fishing.

    • LOL! This paragraph itself is the very definition of condescension!

  10. BTW: regarding Allen Sides’ speculation about bass on Beatles albums, I have the greatest respect for Sides and his work but the bass is on the tapes, it just wasn’t on the records. Abbey Road had an individual in-house whose job it was to play lacquers on the “kiddie” phonographs of the day. When it jumped on one of them, the lacquer was called a “kangaroo cut” and the side was re-cut with less bass or compression was added.

    The recent mono LP box set was cut from the analog tapes with no compression or limiting of any kind and only minor EQ applied based upon Harry T. Moss’s original cutting notes (other than bottom end limiting).

    I heard some of the tapes at Abbey Road (Yes! An audiophile who spent time in a studio!) and the bass is there. It’s also on the reissued LPs.

    If I had the time and any of you had the inclination, we could sit down and compare the new LPs with the recent CD box set. And then you could sit there with a straight face and try to tell me the CDs sound superior, or closer to the sound of the tapes. But you wouldn’t.

    • Michael, I merely reporting on what Allen and discussed at the recent AES convention. I have no first hand knowledge of this…but it does makes sense. I’ll see if I can get to the bottom of the question…I do have some people that might know.

  11. Your comment about the type of equipment that some artists will use to determine approval of a master reminds me of a story I once read about Fank Zappa. In the article he is quoted as saying that he used a modest stereo set up he felt represented the sort of gear a typical American teenager would have to detemine if a master was good to go. Later, when CD’s came along, he made sure to EQ (his word) his masters to take full advantage of the CD medium’s audio capabilities, which is why we haven’t seen the endless parade of remasters/remixes of his catalog as with many other artists. Aside from being a huge fan of his music down the years, I’ve always held a lot of respect for him for the two stories above.

    • My respect for Zappa (aside of course from the music) was that despite that playback practice his records mostly sounded great. “Hot Rats” for example. His sonic attitude though was odd IMO. It’s as if Steven Spielberg said “I don’t watch and listen to my movies on the big IMAX screen. Instead I go to a cinder block palace in Fargo and if it looks good there….That’s just silly.

      • Again, the whole studio-bred idea of “How will it translate?” is total bunk. Recordings that sound great on a revealing and honest high-end stereo will sound good on anything, and I’m reasonably bright, but no Mensa club member. Why can’t the recording folks figure this out too?

        • How sound mixes “translate” to other rooms…both professional and consumer…is not bunk at all. Every room will have its own flavor of sound. I know my THX system does translate very well to the director guild theater but other mix rooms need some tweaking.

  12. Audio magazines would do the community the best service by doing honest reviews of new album releases.
    “This album is an overdriven highly distorted POS, save your money and don’t buy it”.

  13. My question is – did the Beatles have any thing below 40Hz in their music to begin with? Bass guitar low E is 41.204 Hz
    and kick drum typically don’t have much below 50 Hz.
    I believe standard practice at Columbia records was to roll off the bass below 70Hz to provide longer playing time.
    I heard the master tape of Neil Diamond at the Greek Theater at an AES convention in LA in the late 70s – massive low frequencies – then I bought the LP – nothing!

    • We compared originals and mono LP reissues at the Rocky Mountain Audio Festival on a very good system using Vandersteen Model 7s and the different in the bottom end was substantial. McCartney’s bass had depth and texture MIA on the originals.

      • I would have loved to have heard it. Don’t think I would be amazed at monophonic playback (I just spent some time in my room listening to the Love DVD-Audio 5.1 surround mixes) but I do appreciate the care that went into getting these new versions out.

  14. This is an excellent idea:

    “Audio magazines would do a big favor to the audiophile community if they would concentrate on less pricey equipment and explore the studios where the music is actually produced.”

    Clearly this is a part of the chain that is being systematically forgotten by audio magazines and audiophiles, or well, by a certain kind of audiophiles.

    I think that it would be a great idea for your blog here: how many of the studios and labels that record the material that we take for granted is HRA is recorded with the gear that is really up to it?

    Also when you mention the active speakers and monitors in studios, how many are driven by Amps that can deliver really the extended frequency response and SNR that accounts for HRA? A state of the art pair of Genelecs, PMCs, JBLs, etc. don’t get past a SNR of 105 dB, and even the best Bryston or Crown Amps don’t get past 110 dB SNR. So far the only Amp delivering the performance you would need to hear a clear and distinct difference between CD audio and HRA – if it’s really there – is the Benchmark AHB2.

    I also know of no more than 3 microphones that are up to the task of registering HRA standard audio, the DPA 4004s, and the Earthworks QTC40s and QTC50s. All three are omnidirectional, and not the most commonly used microphones. Also, all three mics have relatively high selfnoise compared to other more commonly used omnis, like Neumanns, Schoeps, Gefells, etc. There’s an equally limited amount of microphone pre-amps and A/D converters that are really up to the task.

    I know I have insisted on this several times before, and I agree with you that this means that manufacturers have to step up their gain, but so far – at the stage we are now, how many many labels and studios really have recording chains that can integrallty guarantee HRA standards?

    My insistence moves in the same direction as your criticism, but I think it’s time – as you well point out – to visit studios and review recording practices of the labels that strongly market and promote their material as HRA, like Channel Records, Harmonia Mundi, ACT, BIS, Reference Records, Chandos, the OutThere labels, etc., many of who defend and record in DSD – and see if their practices really meet the conditions.

    My hunch – and I agree its a rather pesimistic one – is that NO ONE is meeting the HRA standards that you defend, but I would like see just how far away we really are from getting there, asd what it really would take in terms of practices and of course gear.


    • Things are little better than you say…but not by a lot. My B&K mics and Neumann/AKGs don’t just stop at 20 kHz…although they are moving down by then.

    • I have some Earthworks TC40s that I got in 1997 to record classical piano. Even back then they provided flat response up to 40kHz, but in 1997 since I was recording at 48/16 that was overkill at the time.

  15. Hi fellers. I want to point out that way back in the 80’s I paid 474$ for the original Soonny portable 3″ cd player (not the 5 inch fullsize). At the time Riinno Rcds released 3″ Beeaatles cds–I bought several. They all have massive bass unheard on the capitol nor EMMI vinyl. Thanks for all the interesting writing/comments 🙂

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