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.

18 thoughts on “Preserving the Past

  • March 12, 2015 at 4:32 pm
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    “Imagine if an art restorer decided to change the colors of the Mona Lisa instead of cleaning it? That’s not preserving a masterpiece, it recasting it according to the preferences of the time.”

    You are absolutely right, Mark.

    Some decades ago, a few people tried to “colorize” black & white movies. Swiftly, they were sued because it was perceived as changing the original opus. I suppose audio is more subjective.

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    • March 13, 2015 at 9:46 am
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      This gets into an area that can be complex. For example, if I were to get a hold of the multitrack tape of a classic album and remix it into 5.1, is that a violation of some sacred trust between the artist and his work? I don’t think so…

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      • March 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm
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        Changing the colours of Mona Lisa is one thing – that would be destroing the original piece of art.
        Changing a piece of music in the mastering process is different, since they are working with copies of the original art.
        And it would be ok, as long as we are offered the ‘untouched’ version as well – and we are fully informed about the origin of what we buy/pay for.
        If someone likes the ‘changed version’, let him have it – I’ll take the ‘untouched!

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        • March 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm
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          Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear the originals…the folks at Blue Note have decided that will remain in the archive. I’m going to try to meet with Don Was and convince him to let me try a a test with one of the originals.

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    • March 13, 2015 at 1:55 pm
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      “Some decades ago, a few people tried to “colorize” black & white movies. Swiftly, they were sued because it was perceived as changing the original opus. I suppose audio is more subjective.”

      That was sad, who wants to watch in black – white when color is possible. I watched a number of colorized films and enjoyed them very much.

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      • March 13, 2015 at 2:15 pm
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        The choice is good but the creatives might think otherwise.

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  • March 12, 2015 at 5:00 pm
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    replicate the vibe of vinyl by applying subtle equalization and compression… why oh why would anyone do this?? I mean seriously. What possible benefit could this have? I’m just scratching my head here. I’ve done enough tape recordings to know that yes the sound different to LP’s but that’s why we went to tape in the first place. Forcing a ‘format over digital’ is just wrong headed.

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    • March 13, 2015 at 9:48 am
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      I will ask Don when I see him…I’m hoping to meet with him soon. I’m sure their justification is to match the sound of their releases during the age of vinyl LPs (which despite all of the insistence that there is a major revival still only accounts for 2% of recording industry revenue).

      Reply
  • March 12, 2015 at 5:51 pm
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    What a disaster. “Wow, I’m surprised to hear that modifications are being done to sound of the analog tape masters in search of the “vibe of vinyl”.

    What we are now being told is that *vinyl* is ruining the sound of audio!

    I blame you sound engineers. 😉

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    • March 13, 2015 at 9:49 am
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      Don’t blame the engineers, they are being told what to do by the management.

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  • March 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm
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    I agree 100% on the Blue Note issue. Seems to me that they should archive the tape to preserve it as is. Not tweaked to sound like the vinyl. They can always do that later but not in the archival process.

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  • March 12, 2015 at 9:52 pm
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    Very sad and a completely backward approach. Why don’t they do it really right and add ticks, pops, surface noise, wow, flutter, and all the rest of vinyls flaws so history can sound as bad as it used to, FOREVER

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  • March 13, 2015 at 1:17 am
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    I co-founded a group of several mastering facilities in the early 80’s which was very successful for more than a decade and then switched to sound restoration and long term archiving for an additional 10 years.

    I can’t agree more about the role of the post-production engineer: his/her role is to respect the artist’s creation and the producer’s will.
    The engineer has to use his/her skills to enhance the material he/she is working on to make it last for the next generation of listeners in respect with the original sound. Not more.

    I think your Mona Lisa’s analogy is brilliant!

    Carpe Diem.

    Jacques

    Reply
  • March 13, 2015 at 7:43 am
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    “These labels have the responsibility to “preserve” the past…not color the past according to someone’s personal fidelity preferences. ”

    Sorry, but you are wrong. The labels have the responsibility to make the most money for their artists and shareholders, Period.

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    • March 13, 2015 at 9:54 am
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      So the art of music is merely a means to making money? I don’t think you’d get universal agreement on that from the musicians and singers that create the stuff.

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  • March 14, 2015 at 11:57 am
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    Hello Mark,

    Preserving the past by making the most accurate possible transfers from old master tapes is exactly what the labels should be doing.

    But in far too many cases, they are not. An under-reported scandal in the record industry is that reissue production from the old analog master tapes is too often directed by persons lacking sufficient scientific knowledge of analog tape playback.

    For proof of this, one could start with an up-close look at the tape machines the labels are using. Assembling a transfer chain with the critical hardware choices based not on science, but on someone’s personal nostalgia, is only a recipe for a sub-optimal transfer. (Does anyone really still believe that scrape flutter is not audible?) And reliance on perfecting a transfer later, through DSP, is probably deeply misguided.

    Like guys with too many beers, talking pick-up trucks, a lot of veterans of the record industry seem insistent that they know all about tape machines. Yet test them, and you’ll uncover that many don’t understand (or can’t distinguish between) constant torque and constant tension, or force guidance and precision guidance tape transport designs. This fundamental tape machine design stuff matters because it turns out to be audible.

    Fred Thal

    Reply

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