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 “Happy New Year!

  • January 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm
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    I’m confused by your analysis because Linn Records offered the 24 days of Christmas daily and then offered all tracks bundled together after Christmas. They stated that the bundles have all songs converted (up and/or down) to the same bit depth and sampling rate specified for a bundle. I downloaded each track daily and always downloaded the highest resolution available, which varied from sampling rates of 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz (and there may have been one or two at 384 kHz, but I stayed with 192 kHz as my top limit because of the DAC I have) and all had a 24 bit depth. The track you discussed, Almost Like Being in Love, was offered with the highest sampling rate at 48 kHz. I don’t like how Linn created its bundles because they disguise what the real fidelity is for each track. I think you need to analyze each song as it was released daily and avoid the bundles. Otherwise, you are reporting the obvious based on Linn’s description of each bundle.

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    • January 1, 2015 at 3:07 pm
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      My point is exactly what you stated. There is no reason to up or downconvert any files…leave them where they are. Collecting tracks into bundles with specs that can only be determined by analysis is wrong headed. Every software player and DAC out there can switch on the fly to play whatever spec you send to it. There’s no need to download the 192 files because…at least in the case of the first track and seven others…the fidelity is limited to CD spec.

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      • January 1, 2015 at 3:42 pm
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        Mark,
        firstly, let me wish you and your family all the best for the new year!

        I was going to point out the same thing as Dick, but he beat me to it.
        However, about the question why they decided to up/down-convert the bundle in the end to the same sampling rate, this might just be a restriction of their download shop system? They may just not have the possibility to offer a bundle where all the tracks have different sampling rates.
        I’m not sure if you can do such a thing on iTrax (I know HDTracks can do it as I have bought a couple of albums where some tracks have a different sampling rate from the rest).
        As this is a free download and the albums they offer for purchase don’t contain such upmixes, I would not judge too harshly in this particular case.

        Best regards,
        Oliver

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        • January 2, 2015 at 9:48 am
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          I’m a fan of Linn Records. I think they’ve been making great equipment and recordings for a long time. I was surprised at what I found but given the wealth of information that others have supplied, there has to be a reason why they would do what they did. I’ll inquire.

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      • January 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm
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        I don’t know how much checking you want to do for this, but for the 27 free tracks offered by Linn this December, they had the following maximum sampling rates for the daily downloads. It would be interesting if your analysis of the frequency content shows a correlation.

        4 sampled at 44.1 kHz
        2 sampled at 48 kHz
        4 sampled at 88.2 kHz
        3 sampled at 96 kHz
        14 sampled at 192 kHz

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        • January 2, 2015 at 9:49 am
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          There seems to be a recording spec and then a bundled delivery spec as well.

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      • January 2, 2015 at 10:18 am
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        Does iTunes, the most ubiquitous music management and software player, automatically switch between sample rates now? It used to be that using iTunes on its own required manual changes of sample rates in the core audio settings.

        Avoiding having to switch sample rates manually with an album seems a legitimate reason for upsampling – especially since they’re not charging for it, and seemed to be transparent about what they did.

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        • January 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm
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          That’s a really good question. I run an older OS so I can keep some vintage programs running. I always have to switch between 48 and 96 kHz. Not sure about the current OS.

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          • January 2, 2015 at 3:46 pm
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            Not natively. You’d have to run a plugin – like BitPerfect or similar.

  • January 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm
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    Happy New Year. A couple of days ago I purchased a CD labelled “The Sixties Album” from my local Tescos. It contained tracks, as the title suggests, from the sixties and I ripped the tracks I personally liked – most were Motown although some were English derived, from the likes of Cilla Black and Tom Jones. The first thing that struck me when playing the tracks through my portable rig was how incredibly good they sounded; not in the context of a modern polished recording, they sounded rough around the edges, but they were simply recorded and those simple recording technique captured the essence of the performance. I note that your recordings are very similarly old school in attempting to capture the musical performance.

    Anyway, what I’m saying is, I got more of the musical performance even though it was (or because it was) recorded simply. A modern recording, with all the fill in techniques etc to make it “perfect” will not improve on the performance simply by being ” high definition”. Maybe we should look to the way we record musicians and take an example of what was done in the 60’s and 70’s to capture a musical event rather than trying to create something in the studio that no amount of increase in definition will turn into something special.

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    • January 1, 2015 at 3:35 pm
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      Got it. The problem or the current style of recording is based on different aesthetic and commercial needs…and doesn’t benefit from high-resolution audio. The process of making the records is what matters most to getting at the “soul of music”.

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    • January 1, 2015 at 11:50 pm
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      PS. I made a search based on release date on Linn’s database. Oldest recordings are not offered as studio masters, just CD or mp3 quality. Later ones are offered as Studio masters but at reduced rates such as 88/24. The more recent ones are offered as 96/24 and the most recent ones as both 96/24 and 192/24. Both 96/24 and 192/24 are offered at the same price. It may well be the case that the 96/24 ones are downsamples of their 192/24 masters (no way I can check this). All this suggests to me that Linn is being quite honest with their customers.

      Reply
  • January 2, 2015 at 5:16 am
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    I downloaded these tracks, one a day, from the beginning of December, every day as they were offered, and the downloads were only offered up to what presumably was the recorded bitrate, for instance Mark Moraghan’s ‘We’ll Never Have Manhattan’ was only available as 44.1k – 24bit however I was surprised when just before Christmas they offered the entire sampler as a single download. I chose to download this at 96k 24bit and found that all the tracks were resampled to the same rate.

    I don’t know why they would do this unless they are concerned about the clicks and pops that some DAC’s make when switching sample rates?

    Anyway I just thought that I would mention this as I do genuinely believe that Linn are a trustworthy supplier of HiRes music.

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  • January 2, 2015 at 9:46 am
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    Thank you for this very good no 1 resolution for the year Mark. You are rendering a service to the whole community of audiophiles and music lovers who also appreciate not being tricked. A very Happy New Year to you and to your family, including Charlie.

    Reply

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