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.

17 thoughts on “Missing My 6th Marathon

  • March 15, 2015 at 3:44 pm
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    The love and advocacy for vinyl has nothing to do with HRA. The labels have rediscovered their golden goose and that goose lays 12″ golden nuggets at $20-25 a piece. “Hallelujah! they say, let’s ride the wave for as long as we can. We’re making some money again. It’s a wave, maybe a fad, but let nothing stand in our way!”

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  • March 15, 2015 at 6:57 pm
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    Vinyl is a fad that will soon wear off so why worry about the BS that’s being spread. It started with the rich consumers not having the toys to one-up their friends with. We now have a new product category called the “Super High End” that the true believers of Stereophile and The Absolute Sound can compete with each other to have spent more money than the next guy. Now the lesser well financially established want to try and play in that yard too.
    But the cost and hassle of running a LP system will soon wake up Joe Average that the LPs really aren’t the future..
    Mr Super Deep Pockets might hang in there for a while, after all what piece of digital equipment has the eye appeal and screams “IM RICH” like a $200,000 Continuum Labs or Onedof turntable.

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  • March 15, 2015 at 7:44 pm
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    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The “warm” sound of vinyl is the sound of rolled-off treble as part of the RIAA playback equalization. It’s also the sound of boosted low midrange and louder bass signals, since quieter bass signals got rolled out – not just down – in the RIAA record-equalization phase.

    Since the mass of mechanical cutting heads and stylii also inherently favor lower frequencies over higher ones – and the coils in the mechanisms of each electrically also have an easier time with lower frequencies than higher ones – it’s no wonder that vinyl sounds predominantly “mid-range-y.”

    First time I’ve heard of any vinyl enthusiast actually admitting and boasting of that characteristic of vinyl, however! Good thing for them that they get to hear some high frequencies from dust and scratches.

    To those folks, the real world must sound too harsh. Good thing for them that the PA equipment in widest use is also “mid-range-y.”

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  • March 15, 2015 at 8:34 pm
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    Hey Doc

    Take care of yourself, will ya. I just started reading your blog.
    Another thing: get crackin on that decent downloader. Damned if I am going to download onesy and twosie.

    Best to you!

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    • March 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm
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      I’m so sorry about the downloader…I’ll push on the developer. They are in India and I’ve had a tough time connecting.

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  • March 16, 2015 at 9:59 am
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    I’ve just got to say something…

    I’ve been reading your daily posts for a couple years, and have gone back and read all the archived ones too. I agree fully with your take on hi-res and admire you for fighting the good fight. You are the one sensible source for info on hi-res audio. You have taught me a lot and have even saved me money**.

    But the truth is, for most people, most of the time, vinyl does sound better.

    Think about it, when the generation that has only experienced low-quality digital gets into vinyl they are generally forced to get an actual sound system – a real amp or receiver, real speakers – and set it up in a real room. No more cheap headphones or bluetooth speakers fed by cheap pocketable electronics. No more listening on “computer speakers” fed by highly compromised computer software and hardware. Compared to what these listeners are used to, vinyl sounds glorious. Of course it does. I know from personal experience, two of my 30ish sons have gone through this transformation. I can attest that vinyl indeed sounds much better than what I was accustomed to hearing at their homes.

    And it’s not just the receiver/speakers making the difference. Even when you feed the headphone-jack output of a typical digital player or home computer into a traditional living-room audio system, music still sounds pretty darn lousy no matter what resolution files you play. Even a computer with an external high-quality DAC must be configured properly (install drivers, experiment with proper settings) to produce good sound. Many (most?) listeners are not up to that kind of “tech-wizardry”.

    Then there’s the dreaded CD player. Despite the current trends, many (most?) pre-MP3 generation listener’s only digital experience is with CDs – and almost every CD player ever built is atrocious sounding, even when playing through an excellent home system. (The Oppo players you use are IMHO the only “reasonably-priced” option that delivers excellent performance, but they start at $500 which is unreasonable for most people.) In a typical system, with a typical CD player, vinyl can easily sound better.

    Now, we (by that I mean us “audiophiles”) know that when using an excellent player, or a hi-quality streaming setup, digital music sounds wonderful. You yourself have gone on record saying that even well-produced MP3s can sound great. But until most people have digital sources that easily and conveniently play files like they are supposed to be played (“as the artist intended”?), vinyl will vie for the lead in quality.

    So, cut people some slack. I believe that most of them (even those that write “technical” columns for popular consumption) can tell what’s “better”. They are fully in tune with what rocks them – that emotional response that makes music special. If they say that they get more of what music is all about from vinyl, then I’m inclined to believe them. And when they say vinyl is hi-res, I believe they are really saying it “resolves” the music better, meaning they get a heightened musical experience. It’s emotional resolution, not technical.

    ** I used to think I’d need to “upgrade” to DSD capabilities until you showed how PCM is better. Potentially saved big $$$ there. I used to buy “hi-res” downloads but now know that for me, on my system, most material is just as good at 44/16. I am now much more careful about hi-res provenance. Actually no money is saved there because it just goes to acquiring more music. Still a win-win. Thank you.

    Keep up the good work.

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    • March 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm
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      Excellent comment, Mark. Well presented…and I agree, if vinyl LPs bring a fidelity starved generation to better audio then it’s all good. I just hope they keep exploring and work their way to the nirvana of well made, real HD-Audio files.

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    • March 17, 2015 at 11:51 am
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      Hi Mark, The slagging of CD is way overdone. Both LP and CD are limited signal capacity mediums with differing families of sonic characteristics.In both cases, it the signal capacity is used to the fullest degree, and the sonic characteristics of the chosen medium are factored in, either format CAN make for a very enjoyable listen.

      None of my colleagues buy the OPPO hype.They sound clean but cold and a bit hard. But to write off the many excellent CD players that have come along over the years is also a bit much, thank you. It’s more relevant to note that just as CD matured from one end to the other,(circa 2000,) two things happenned. First, as folks’ first and second gen CDplayers died, some idiot told them that a 399.00 dvd player would play CD’s well; now CD’s sound more like MP-3’s; CD interest declines. And what stuck it’s head up right then? I-Pod too stole the light.
      Today, the 3000 songs on the head of a pin idea seems stupid!

      In simple terms, the innocuous distortions of vinyl are much easier to tolerate than the abrasive sound of MP-3s. Having been painted continually with the distortions inherent in lo-fi digital, when those distortions are not present folks seem to relax and enjoy. Distortion is at the bottom of so many hi-fi perceptions.

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      • March 17, 2015 at 1:26 pm
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        “Slagging of CDs”? I’m an advocate for well done compact discs. And the statement that “none of my colleagues but the Oppo hype”? There’s a reason that Oppo has sold so many truly remarkable optical disc players AND why I have used their modestly priced units in my demonstration rooms over the years. Your colleagues may have an “attitude” about their products but there’s no hype going on. The “buzz” about Oppo machines exists because their designs, sound quality, value, reliability, service and support are fabulous. If you or or colleagues don’t recognize a really revolutionary line of products, then go ahead and waste your money on overpriced players from high-end brands. I’ll stick with ESS Sabre DACs and solid craftsmanship. “Cold and a bit hard”…you’re starting to sound like a professional audio writer.

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        • March 17, 2015 at 3:15 pm
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          My response was to the long note from the other “Mark.”, not to M.W.

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  • March 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm
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    I’m over people trying to justify vinyl and worst off all, studio people doctoring old master tapes using vinyl comparisons to new digital masters. Are they MAD?

    No live band(Classical to pop) to my knowledge ever compares their sound to vinyl onstage. They play to the live sound of amplified/non amplified instruments in free space interacting with each other.

    In fact most musicians I know, don’t bother much with Hi-Fi preferring the real live sound and recognise its almost impossible to reproduce from a recorded source accurately. We are getting closer slowly but its a somewhat rocky road so far as Mark points out.

    Robert

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    • March 17, 2015 at 9:51 am
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      Robert, I love live music as well but there is an artistry and creative craft to assembling a tune in a studio. A different process for sure, but I marvel at a well-produced studio record. And they rarely happen that way live.

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  • March 16, 2015 at 7:36 pm
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    The only true hi fi way to get that warm sound of vinyl is to tape a 1972 nickel to the top of the cartridge. I thought everyone knew this.

    Sorry, sometimes I can help myself.

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    • March 17, 2015 at 9:53 am
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      I used to use a quarter…it made everything louder.

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  • March 17, 2015 at 12:03 pm
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    This is for Mark W. I daily watch folks react to playback of everything from Airplay to CD, to vinyl.The reactions to vinyl sound are amazing to observe. Now…I sweated blood years ago to make excellent recordings and ultra-high quality vinyl, so I have a more informed and slightly jaundiced point of view, but it is the subtraction of data-reduction based distortions, a family that combines transient smearing, noise welded-in, edgy , unpleasant high frequencies and time domain distortions, that causes the smile to manifest when spinning vinyl. The listener is all at once being feed from “digital distortion jail”. As for the sound itself, it’s not new, it’s a return to something that was summarily replaced by something”perfect.”

    I’ve helped many a person w/ a hearing anomaly of one sort of the other that all figured they could’nt hear much. Well…100% of the time, when guided down the path from evident distortion to vanishingly low distortion, everyone hears that . As a brilliant engineer friend of mine likes to say, “Craig, there is no GOOD distortion.” Yes, but some are much easier to tolerate than others. That’s “the vinyl thing,” in a nutshell.

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    • March 17, 2015 at 1:30 pm
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      I’m not sure what you’re claiming here…that CD or digital systems have more distortion or just bad distortion compared to vinyl LPs? Check the specs Craig…the distortion of high-fidelity digital PCM is much, much less on every measure than analog vinyl. Keep guiding people to the analog light and they’ll never know what the highest fidelity actually sounds like.

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      • March 17, 2015 at 3:19 pm
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        Different types of distortion-it’s not the measured amount, it’s the audible presence. Unfortunately, low quality digital’s distortions stick out like a sore thumb compared to higher amplitude but less irritating factors found on LP playback. I personally enjoy both vinyl and CD when they are done well.

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