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.

21 thoughts on “Pono and the End of October

  • October 30, 2014 at 6:34 am
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    Hi Mark, the emails they have sent to their kickstarter supporters say that they were going to start shipping players for them this last week of October and anticipating to complete all shipments by mid November. They say they’ll prioritize early pledges and signature series players. People will get an email when the player ships with instructions on how to unlock the store. They say people getting the player now will have access to the store (Beta stage), once the player ships. They also say that the store will still be Beta until after all Kickstarter rewards have been shipped (they do not say for how long after).

    I do not know which tracks you tried to preview at the Pono store page but all the ones I tried worked fine for me.

    As you said, there’s still no information about what type of files can be downloaded and what sample rates/bit sizes are available for each track. I cannot imagine not having that information once you are allowed to purchase from the site. The good thing I can see on the social side of the site is that you’ll have a discussion place for each album, so people can put reviews, and make comments about quality of the files. I can imagine one can even post the spectrograms. So, I can see this social feature as a plus, since it is much more difficult to share experiences about purchases at other sites like HDTracks, etc.

    I’m with you in that I didn’t see the point of making a store where 44.1/16 content is 99.9% of the total, oh well. I’m open to “rediscover” music that I already have if there is a new clean transfer and great mastering being done. I certainly don’t need a store of CD rips, I have done that myself already for all the CDs I own.

    Have a safe trip!

    PS: Were you inspired to write about Pono because you are going to Neil’s country? 🙂

    Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 8:29 am
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    Add all of that to the existing issues: It’s triangular, can’t possibly feel good in a pocket, 128gb limit (heck, I have more than that in AAC files in my existing iPod) it’s yellow (really?) and $400. All those are negatives, with only one positive: 192KHz/24 bit. Law of improving products condemns this to failure. To win over an existing product you have to provide customers with perceived multiple advantages, and few disadvantages. CDs did this over vinyl with size, convenience, play time, ease of use (tracked, random access) no wear, and quality (ok, argue that one), with only a price negative. CDs penetrated the market fully in under 3 years.

    Quality at any cost with no other advantages has never won in the marketplace beyond the niche. Questionable that the niche will support this. Now, if Apple just made a player that did even 92KHz and sold those files, this war would be over instantly.

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  • October 30, 2014 at 8:37 am
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    It occurred to me while walking my dog that Neil Young, having pledged himself legally to the Pono project, was not in the position of being able to just walk away, as he had done musically over his career, with no apologies to those left behind.

    It will be interesting to watch Young and Pono over the next few years.

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  • October 30, 2014 at 9:51 am
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    At least TIDAL says they are giving you CD rips. And it seems to me, if all you are getting from Pono is CD rips, why not just pay your $20 each month to TIDAL and be able to access the music on phones or computers. I have a trial to TIDAL, but I’m thinking that I won’t subscribe; Rdio has converted all their tracks to 320 kbps AAC and I’m not sure I want to pay twice as much to get 44.1/16 lossless; rather spend my $10 each month and buy some real HD music downloads.

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    • November 1, 2014 at 4:13 am
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      One might wonder why N.Y./Pono don’t see these facts – they are doomed to fail.

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      • November 1, 2014 at 5:31 am
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        There going down the path they’ve chosen and have take considerable money to build. We’ll see how it goes. It’s November 1st today…do you know anyone that has received their Pono player?

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  • October 30, 2014 at 10:27 am
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    For shame on you Neil Young! Your riding on the coat tails of your past fame and reputation for being an honest straight shooter to run a snake oil scam on your fans. As Mark has pointed out over the last few days it’s become difficult if not impossible to make money as a musician in today’s market so to make up for your lost income your running this scam. SHAME
    You want to become a legend in audio do as Mark said, toss out that 20 million track catalog of CD rips and go back to the master tapes doing the best possible remasters in 192/24 or 96/24 buckets. It will be slower to make your fortune but as word gets out about the quality you’ll not only make $ but live with pride in your contribution to the music industry..

    As an aside I recently borrowed a copy of the 1998 EMI boxed collection of Frank Sinatra recordings. A 21 CD set of everything he did with them from 1954-1962. The 21 CD set is called The Capital Years and was remastered in 1998 by EMI in the UK to 20 bit state of the art (for the time) digital. I find the sound quality on most of the albums in the collection simply amazing for the time.
    The only stuff I have from the comparable times are pop recordings done by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee, all the kings of rock and roll. Unfortunately there’s just no comparison, those recordings sound like they were done on a wire recorder, too bad but at least we have a record of the glory days.
    Anyway since The Capital Years collection has become near impossible to obtain any more and the current prices are over the moon, there’s one set on ebay right now for $695.00
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Frank-Sinatra-21-CD-The-Capitol-Years-Box-Set-Mint-condition-Rare-272-Tracks-/300901893833?pt=Music_CDs&hash=item460f2686c9
    Mark, It would be wonderful if you could get licensed to remaster this set in today’s state of the art digital, I think the sales potential would be very high once heard. What great sound for the mid-late 1950s

    Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 10:35 am
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    Please stop writing ill informed articles. You don’t even fact check before publishing.

    20M tracks was never promised by Pedram it was 2M. The site is still BETA and hasn’t been fully launched so of course it’s not complete.

    Taking hi-res recording from the original masters is exactly what Pono is asking of the studios to do and will make them available as soon as they can. It’s part of the Pono promise to have the best resolution available period.

    The community you mention is actually alive and well at Pono Music and is growing every day. When we actually have players and a full website with Artist spaces capable of interacting with listeners it’s going to explode.

    If you think being controversial is going to get you hits – you’re wrong. This is the last article I read with your name attached to it.

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    • October 30, 2014 at 7:44 pm
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      I’m glad that you’re pleased with the way Pono has progressed. Enjoy rediscovering the soul of CD quality.

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      • October 31, 2014 at 11:32 am
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        The point of Pono is, and has been, to offer a hi-res package including a player and the ability to download the HIGHEST AVAILABLE resolution file (with the guarantee that it is not an “up-res” cheap copy). To have a single site to purchase and download is worth the price of admission. As for the hardware – you don’t have to use it but for those or us who don’t burn and rip and steal our music the Pono ecosystem seems like the answer. Here’s hoping it is what it says it is.

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        • November 1, 2014 at 5:29 am
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          The mission of Neil Young with regards to audio fidelity has been to deliver the original sound that he experienced in the studio to his fans. He dislike CDs but was pleased when DVD-Audio and Blu-ray came around with higher sample rates and word lengths. I had hoped that Pono initiative was going to be built around the delivery of high-resolution audio not the “highest resolution” available…which means anything at any quality could be included on their site. If 20 million CD spec tracks are available…what percentage do you think will be retransferred? Pono has stated that they won’t be doing it. The labels are delivering around 10 per week per label…that doesn’t get you to 20 million any time soon.

          Ripping and tagging CDs is easy. If you purchase the discs you want at Walmart or Amazon for $5 and rip them yourself…you’ll save a ton of case. Better yet, simply stream the millions of CDs from Tidal or Deezer at full CD quality. The Pono 2.0 player is going to be a streaming device for that very reason.

          Reply
  • October 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm
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    Even if Pono in fact is what you describe, a way of bringing folks together around music, that’s just fine for starters. Again, none of has heard a Pono download yet, and it’s well known that talk is cheap, and that goes both ways.
    Any venture as far-reaching as Pono is bound to have teething/birthing problems. You have spent a fair amount of time and print semi-dissing Pono ; it almost seems like you hope Pono fails. I see this output as simply mean behavior w/o any beneficial aspect for anyone. Why keep attacking someone’s effort to improve the public median of sound quality? Why not note criticisms in a positive context?

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    • October 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm
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      Craig, I’m merely pointing out the things that are happening inside the Pono enterprise. I’m not impressed…I believe they’ve fallen off the original mission. There’s nothing special about selling CD for $14.99 when you can purchase and rip the CDs yourself for less than $10 each through Amazon AND get the physical discs.

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      • October 31, 2014 at 12:19 pm
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        Since no prices have been announced, that I have seen, I presume your $14.99 is a WAG. I’m hoping for a lower price to be competitive. At a minimum the Pono software has ripping capability built in (there is a nice “how to” video posted on the store site).

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        • November 1, 2014 at 5:23 am
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          When Neil and other were interviewed early in the KS campaign, they stated that the prices would range from $14.99 to $24.99…I’m assuming that the CD rips would fall at the low end of the scale and the 4000 albums transferred from the third generation analog “masters” by the labels will be at the higher price…about where they are on the other sites.

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          • November 1, 2014 at 7:44 pm
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            In viewing the Pono “how to” video on downloading, they show a 192/24 Herbie Hancock album for $18 and a 96/24 Michael Jackson for $15. That would seem to indicate that CD quality would be under $15. We shall see…

          • November 2, 2014 at 4:32 am
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            I’ll have to take another look. Maybe they’re changed things up since the initial announcement.

  • November 4, 2014 at 12:12 am
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    I think the OP is primarily pointing out the lack of Pono shipments. I’ve been scouring the Web and Twitter for more than a week (the last week in October) and have not seen any posts by happy owners claiming to have received the devices (which, by the way, some of us have already paid for.)

    It’s now about halfway between the beginning of the last week in October and the middle of November, so where are they?

    Reply
    • November 4, 2014 at 9:46 am
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      I’m not aware of anyone getting their Pono player either. I haven’t checked around very much but I think I would have heard about it. I’m guessing something happened to delay the first shipments. Making stuff is really hard…and I’m sure they’re working very hard to get things moving.

      Reply
  • November 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm
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    Pono battery: “Large 2900mAH Li-Ion rechargeable for up to 8 hours of playback time”

    In my opinion, with a cylindrical battery sitting in that triangular prism, run time should be better. “Up to” tends to imply that one might get 8 hours playing mp3s. Hi-res FLAC will consume rather more power on any device.

    Additionally, no-one knows what the User Interface will be like, and how long it may take before an update to fix any bugs.
    I suppose anyone who ordered via Kickstarter has to honour their pledge, but for anyone currently contemplating the Pono player, there really are alternatives, obtainable now.

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    • November 5, 2014 at 7:33 am
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      I became a member of the Pono community yesterday. It seems some people are actually getting machines. A friend who was an early supporter said he’s going to get his today. Thus it begins.

      Reply

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