HRA Demystified Session at AIX Studios

It’s almost 6 pm and the last of the guys that opted in to the HRA Demystified session today have just left. And what a terrific time we had playing high-resolution audio from the AIX Records catalog including the record that we will not speak about…that was a huge hit and had to be repeated numerous times with alternating people in the sweet spot.

The day started early for me. Up with Charlie at 6 am, a quick bike ride around the bluffs, and then off to the studio to get ready for the daylong session. The PowerPoint presentation contains at least 40 slides about AIX, the definition of Hi-Res Audio, production techniques for high-resolution audio, and a discussion of formats. The agenda was pretty loose throughout the day and discussion emerged about formats, downloads vs. streaming and MQA. I don’t think I got more than 40% through the slides. But that’s OK.

The most important outcome was to get engaged audio enthusiasts to hear some really great recordings. Of course, I think that the tracks I’ve recorded stand well above the usual fare released by Hollywood but the assembled group was convinced as well. I played a number of tracks in 5.1 surround in the “stage” perspective mix and everyone agreed that there’s no going back to traditional stereo. Surround music makes everything about a track better…why can’t the artists and their production partners get behind more channels?

During the lunch break, I put the AIX Records HD-Audio 2013 sampler on and just let it play. Each attendee spent time switching between the stereo and surround mixes. A casual poll found that everyone preferred the aggressive surround mix over the stereo and audience 5.1 mixes.

The discussion turned to the Smyth Realizer that I’ve used to prepare headphones[xi] versions of many of my recordings. I pulled out my trusty iPod and everyone listened to the “Eleanor Rigby” track in full surround via Gary Reber’s (of Widescreen Review magazine) Audio Technica headphones. In spite of the fact that the filters were tuned for my ears, just about everyone heard the music outside of their heads.

During the afternoon sessions, I laid out the evolution of my recording techniques and my compulsion to avoid artificial reverberation and dynamic processing. The clarity of the tracks that I shared all day is the direct result of not messing around with the sound that the musicians produced during the original sessions. Why would you want heavy reverb on the vocal tracks and leave the accompaniment relatively dry? I’ve heard recordings like this and they leave me very unsatisfied.

Finally, I shared the 4-track multitrack recordings of the Beatles “Sgt Peppers” album. A friend provided me these unique tracks some years ago. I’ve been amazed by them every since. You can solo the lead vocal or the background vocals and heard the harmonies…and the “pitchiness” on some of the parts…things that wouldn’t pass muster these days. Hearing Paul and John singing the background vocals on “A Little Help From My Friends” pulls back the curtain on the making of this classical concept album…one of the best albums in the history of rock ‘n roll.

Everyone got a couple of free discs and then purchased a bunch more at a discount. My favorite comment was, “When are you going to do this again?” I think everyone had a great time, learned a few things, and heard my tracks as they are meant to be heard. Thanks to everyone who attended. It was a real pleasure.

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.

3 thoughts on “HRA Demystified Session at AIX Studios

  • April 6, 2015 at 2:27 am
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    Dear Dr. AIX,
    I have acquired you’re wonderful recordings since the days of DVD-A….. and have recently turned to BluRays.
    I play them via a OPPO player and have acquired a Kanex HDMI splitter….
    So, you can tell I like you’re posts also a lot ! I spread them around to the members of my Audio Society (35 members) a small club of people with a common interest in audio and music. I am a founding member (dating back to 2001)
    You’re HR demo session made me think of a question. Although I understand your preference for multichannel stage mixes…. it is very hard to make this come true in a normal Dutch living room. which are somewhat or should I say a lot smaller than the average US one. ;o) So, at the moment I have a normal stereo music system (including a separate subwoofer which supports the stereo speakers below 100 Hz, thanks fot the post on the LFE!)

    I do not remember you talked about the audio system you use at your own home. Do you have a dedicated listening room too? May be you could enlighten us on this, to promote the multi channel listening experience at home.
    Thank you for all your posts, I admire you for that too, sharing your experiences everyday!
    You will probably see an order coming in from me soon. Deciding which one to acquire is a tough job. They all sound amazing!
    Regard
    René Olivier
    The Netherlands

    Reply
    • April 7, 2015 at 2:33 am
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      That is a very important question:
      How to listen to multichannel audio in an avarage living room?
      Not all of us (I guess very few) have a studio like yours, Mark.
      Or a dedicated listening/cinema room.

      So – is it possible to enjoy multichannel audio in a ‘normal’ living room? (If yes, how? – recommendations, please!)
      Or must the lot of us live with ‘discount experiences’…….or just dream of getting the possibility of visiting your room some day 😉

      Keep up the good work – and take care of your health.

      Regards
      FB

      Reply
      • April 7, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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        I enjoy surround music in my home using a 5.1 hometheater setup. I have a set of FCM-8 THX certified B&W speakers with a subwoofer (although my wife unplugged it). If you avoid dipole speakers as surrounds, you can actually do very well with 5.1 music.

        Reply

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