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.

30 thoughts on “Meridian MQA at CES 2015

  • January 11, 2015 at 1:10 pm
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    I am what’s called a VIP subscriber to Tidal. My first month was free and I am now paying $13/month by paying for 3 months at once. I don’t know how this will continue, but for now I find it an excellent alternative to buying 1/2 of a high-res album every month. I use a Wadia DAC that has always sounded great with CDs and high-res tracks.

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    • January 11, 2015 at 1:56 pm
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      The economics for end users work out really well. I actually wonder if the TIDAL folks have the same arrangement with the artists and ultimately the artists. If there’s no upside to making the albums available as streams, the situation might be fluid.

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  • January 11, 2015 at 1:12 pm
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    Meridian’s MQA technology sounds brilliant. I am anxious to hear your impressions after actually listening, Mark.

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  • January 11, 2015 at 2:12 pm
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    ‘That’s pretty clever’. And Tidal (over here it is WiMP) wants to join in.
    I’ll keep that in mind for when the real HiRes files are available 😉
    I fear it might take a looong time.

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    • January 11, 2015 at 2:32 pm
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      The fact is there just aren’t that many high-resolution files around…if you adhere to my definition. Certainly, not enough to support PonoMusic or HDtracks.

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      • January 11, 2015 at 3:29 pm
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        So (almost ) noone will benefit from the MQA for a long time.
        I fear – in the hands of the ‘wrong’ people – this will just be another marketing gimmick.
        The MQA technology might have some advantages, but the responsible people in the industry should focus much more on the quality of recording/mastering.

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        • January 12, 2015 at 7:40 am
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          It’s a big deal for getting the archived analog tapes up to their maximum presentation…and for streaming services like TIDAL.

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  • January 11, 2015 at 2:20 pm
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    The question I have is whether you need to upgrade your DAC or whether the decoding can be done via software such as JRiver or Audirvana before the computer sends the stream to the DAC.

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    • January 11, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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      You will need upgraded hardware and software to handle the new MQA streams…or without upgrading you will get normal FLAC quality. I should ask Bob if the bandwidth of the FLAC files will be the limiting factor.

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      • January 12, 2015 at 2:03 am
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        Hello Mark,

        you need update hardware (DAC firmware) OR software (audio application) to handle the new MQA streams…

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  • January 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm
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    Hello Mark,

    Is there any kind of DRM or copy protection feature in MQA for the benefit of the streaming and download service providers? Thanks.

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    • January 12, 2015 at 7:41 am
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      I don’t believe so.

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  • January 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm
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    … so if metadata about the characteristics of the ADC and DAC used in the studio is embedded in the signal, my cheap DAC will sound like a Benchmark? I thnk not. There are ways that this could be done, for example the coefficients for the filters in the studio DAC could be included as metadata to be loaded into the filter in my DAC, assuming compatible architecure. But I’ve seen nothing in the patent or presentations to indicate that MQA is anything more than a sophisticated sompression scheme.

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    • January 12, 2015 at 7:43 am
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      Don, Robert specifically mentioned several brand names of converters during his presentation to me. I was curious how hid new “codec” improves the fidelity…and that’s what he said. It does make sense but there are so many other factors (room acoustics, speakers, amplifiers etc) that would need modelling or measurement that I’m still waiting to see.

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      • January 12, 2015 at 6:41 pm
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        He appears to be saying that any compromises made by the ADC when digitising the input can be communicated to the DAC and compensated for when doing the D-to-A conversion. But to do this you have to quantify your ADC behaviour. And if you know this, you can do the compensation within the ADC, rather than at the DAC. It also doesn’t work when the input is already digitised, as in all the examples in his patent. If he has developed a system for linking the ADC to the DAC, I would have expected him to patent it because he intends to license the MQA technology. Hopefully all will become clear in time.

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        • January 13, 2015 at 8:16 am
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          You’re right…I’ll be following up with him and try to keep you posted.

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          • January 13, 2015 at 4:05 pm
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            Hmmmm….
            http://www.stereophile.com/content/ive-heard-future-streaming-meridians-mqa
            Scroll down to “Correcting The Source” and read the next two paragraphs.
            (Apologies if you’ve seen it already.)
            It implies using DSP to correct for “temporal smearing” caused by the (necessary) filters in the ADC and DAC.
            Temporal smearing is the current digital bogeyman, replacing jitter.

          • January 13, 2015 at 5:11 pm
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            Thanks

        • January 13, 2015 at 2:18 pm
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          How to correct for ADC behavior after the recording is already in the digital domain was covered in a comment added by John Atkinson to his Stereophile article on MQA. Basically, Meridian has modeled the behavior of a few of the most popular ADCs used in transfers and original recordings. Often , the specific equipment used is in the notes that go along with the digital master. If the notes indicate one of those modeled ADCs, then the correction can be applied. That’s the genesis of the claim that it improves the sound. Anyone interested in more details on MQA should give that article a read – it’s still the only one I’ve found by anybody with technical credentials. Meridian would do well to put more of that information on their own website.

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          • January 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm
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            Andrea, it might have application where the intent is to “flat transfer” an analogue master, but in almost every other situation it would be a modification of the originally approved work. The engineer/producer achieved and approved the sound as captured by the ADC and heard in the studio. Making it sound “better”will make it sound different from the approved version. (Assuming, of course, that the difference is actually audible.)

  • January 11, 2015 at 11:03 pm
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    Actually, there’s just no need in making shifts in sound quality for still smaller file sizes: rumanian OptimFROG does it all lot better than anything similar & is very apropos for storing moderately upsampled audio data wherever! Further improvements can only be obtained with PAQ.

    And since Meridian with their MLP and now MQA are unable to contend with OptimFROG then why deceive people ?

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    • January 12, 2015 at 7:46 am
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      We don’t need and fidelity doesn’t benefit from upsampling…all you get is a bigger file. And OptimFROP give you about 25% reduction…MQA gives you much more (10 times better). Why bring up things that aren’t relevant?

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      • January 12, 2015 at 11:24 pm
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        192 kHz 24-bit stereo with 1 Mbps bit rate equals to HD MP3 + some amount of interpolation and probably noise shaping {but then again dithering must be applied to avoid sound deterioration} that ousts quantization noise {generated by the binary word} just up to your cherished higher frequencies thus making a PCM recording a DSD one {otherwise the noise will be very annoying since it is digital by nature, unlike nonlinearities}

        So.. OptimFROG is a fully lossless compression technique whereas MQA is lossy but trying to get higher by means of some kind of upsampling {by the way, the Benchmark DAC resamples to 110 kHz}.

        Seems like Meridian are trying to cheat with anti-alias filter steepness to squeeze better sounding . . .

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        • January 13, 2015 at 8:23 am
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          I can’t say I’ve looked into HD MP3 but I’d be surprised if it could take a 384 kHz file and losslessly shrink it to 1 Mbps. MQA is not lossy.

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          • January 14, 2015 at 6:19 am
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            Just look into a FLAC or an APE, both being considered lossless, and you’ll see typical bit rates around 800-900 kbps compressed CD format, implying Meridian to be utilizing their MLP which, as known, performs quite poor, hereof the ~ 1 Mbps.

          • January 14, 2015 at 7:58 am
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            In fact, Meridian Lossless Packing works very well…that why the DVD forum chose it for the DVD-Audio format.

  • January 12, 2015 at 10:03 am
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    This MQA idea has legs….I look forward to hearing more about it from you (you cut through all the hype).

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  • January 12, 2015 at 1:19 pm
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    Sorry I missed you at CES. Too much to see/hear…too little time. I did get to the Dirac room. This is the technology you mentioned that is built into the miniDSP processor you noted in another blog.This Swedish room correction technology is going to be built into some popular AV equipment as well as cars like Bentley and Audi. The before/after demo was very impressive.

    Here’s an article you may have missed. Right conclusion….wrong reasoning.

    http://gizmodo.com/dont-buy-what-neil-young-is-selling-1678446860

    Keep fighting for better audio!

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    • January 12, 2015 at 1:49 pm
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      I just read the Gizmodo post…and I agree that they guy doesn’t know the reasons but he came to the right conclusion.

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