Two Year Anniversary!

Actually, I missed the real anniversary. The Google analytics feed started exactly two years ago today but the first post was uploaded earlier in April. From the humble beginnings of RealHD.Audio.com when a few dozen readers would stop by, the daily post reaches over 4000 people every day. And that number grows by about 10-25 per day. And it’s all thanks to you…the readers of the site. Whether you agree with the things that I write about or not, there are regular visitors that want to hear what I have to share. Thanks for joining me in the exploration of high-resolution music and other aspects of the music business.

Deciding what to write about every day has not proven difficult. There are always things going on in the world of high-end music. I monitor a few key websites and every day I receive emails with links to interesting articles from readers. I’ve authored well over 750 posts and see no reason to stop now. The emergence of high-resolution audio has been happening…albeit slowly…since the arrival of the first high-resolution audio formats back in 2000…DVD-Audio and SACD discs. The record labels didn’t really get the importance of the high-res formats…and they still don’t. They’re content extracting a few more millions of dollars from uninformed music fans from the standard resolution tapes stashed in their vaults parading around in high-resolution bit buckets. We need to get them to produce new recordings to high fidelity standards.

I’ve been working on the design for the HRADB.com site since I returned from Chicago. The High Resolution Audio DataBase is intended to be a resource for any quality conscious audio consumer. My plan is to list and evaluate every high-resolution album or track available on any of the high-resolution digital music download sites. Clearly, I have to limit the number of albums that will be represented on the site. Without reasonable restrictions, I could fall into the “everything every recorded” is a high-resolution audio file. This is the model that PonoMusic and the CEA/DEG/NARAS organizations have opted to adopt. The 2 million tracks available on PonoMusic might be the “highest-resolution currently available”, because they haven’t yet been transferred or remastered from the source tapes, but they won’t be listed on the HRADB site if they came from a CD.

The HRADB site will include ALL of the albums and tracks that have been made available from the big three record labels to their licensees. That number is around 13,000. In reality, I shouldn’t list the 13,000 either because they were originally standard definition sources (analog tape) and remain SD when transferred to HD buckets. But I have decided to include them on the site and include as much provenance information as I can get my hands on. I will be listing the source format of every track in addition to the delivery format. It matters.

The HRADB site will allow visitors to “filter” the albums displayed on the main page by a variety of important parameters including, format, mix type, provenance, specifications, dynamic range, genre, site, best selling, highest rated, and my personal ranking. Users of the site will also have the ability to search for the best prices, leave comments, and rank their purchases. I want the HRADB.com site to become a community resource for high-end music lovers.

Building the website is the first challenge. Getting access to all of the available “high-resolution” recordings will be more difficult. However, I’m convinced that I can provide a useful site within several months. It will continue to grow and hopefully provide a service to customers being ripped off by HRA sites that misrepresent the content they’re selling.

We can impact the business by peeling back the curtain and seeing the sausage being produced.


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.

19 thoughts on “Two Year Anniversary!

  • Mark,
    This sounds like a great resource! What can I/we do to help!

    • Thanks Bruce…this is going to be a focus of mine for the next several months. The key will be building the database and evaluating all of the audio files. I’ll keep you and the rest of the readership informed.

  • What a fantastic idea and great service. As a wannabe audiophile, I would like to know what music files are really Hi resolution so I can compare for myself.
    Thank you

  • Mark…. There’s the “Hi Rez” Music Circle over at AC. They call out “Faux” files in one thread. Your HRADB site seems like a daunting task, you must have an army, or are you handing out “extra credit” to some less than stellar students ?

    As for Axpona and the likes, it’s a sad day when reviewers “drive by”. They’ll always have readers who’ll abide by their “half empty” dialog. Playing the “turf” game serves only the clones. Next year draw them a map titled “highway to honesty”.

    Good to hear the reader base is exponential in 24 short months. It’s never where you start, but where you end up.

    • It’s going to be a daunting task but it’s what we need. I’ll be looking for help…readers and students.

  • Chris Wright

    This is a tremendous initiative Mark and congratulations on your anniversary.

    The most liberating aspect of the Internet is that offers a platform for charlatans and snake oil merchants to be shown in their true light.

    I wish you well with the new site.

  • Watch out Mark, this sounds like something that could rapidly turn into a full time job.

    • I’m already in full time mode. This will just be another organizational task….a big one.

  • Andreas Todt

    Hi Mark,
    I usually spend hours in search of real High Res Audio downloads which are not just repackaged 44.1KHz recordings. It would be a blessing to have a database of recordings where you can find all the information you would want to know and everybody else is hiding. I’m following your posts for over year now and must say you have taught me a lot. As an audiophile on a budget I don’t know if my equipment would be able to reproduce the enhanced dynamic range and provenance, I would always think that I missed the most important step in my reproduction chain, the very best recording available at the time of recording. I would be a strong supporter of a one stop shop. I’m working for living as a web and database developer and would be more than happy to volunteer my time to make this happen any time soon. I always say If you can’t find what you want you have to do it yourself. So please let me know if there is help needed.

    • Andreas, thanks for the offer to help. I’m currently designing and writing the specification. I’ll be in touch.

  • ” I shouldn’t list the 13,000 either because they were originally standard definition sources (analog tape) and remain SD when transferred to HD buckets. But I have decided to include them on the site and include as much provenance information as I can get my hands on. I will be listing the source format of every track in addition to the delivery format. It matters.”

    Mark, IMHO the more I think about this it is a mistake, blurring the lines between what is and what isn’t a true HDA recording. It should either be a HD digital recording front to back or not included, this definition is what you’ve been fighting for all along, why back down now?

    • Sal, sadly the business of selling high-resolution audio files is dominated by the reworked catalogs of the majors. If I limited myself to real HD-Audio recordings, I wouldn’t be able to reveal which tracks came from which sources. This is the whole issue.

  • Hi Mark! The idea of having an honest site to weed out the “polished turds” (it’s still a turd, but in a pretty package) is exciting! I was watching Leo Laporte’s show “Triangulation” last night. His guest was Neil Young and the subject was his HRA player. I was really disappointed that Leo failed to take him to task on the SDA in a larger bit bucket. Mr. Laporte definitely knows the difference, I’ve heard him argue the point in the past. Maybe he was just smitten with having a rock idol on. I even started to wonder if Neil Young could even still hear or perhaps a victim of psychoacoustic placebo effects. I’m definitely going to write him about ignoring this blatant misrepresentation of what real High Resolution Audio is and isn’t. At no time did the subject of provenance come up, but Mr. Young did did his foot in his mouth several times. I wouldn’t have realized it had I not been an avid reader of your blogs! Thanks so much for your efforts,and educating folks like me. That information has kept me from buying highly polished turds disguised as High Resolution Audio in big buckets, not to mention the associated hardware.

    • I’ll have to look this one up. Thanks

  • I was hoping you would do just this sort of thing. Getting your hands on all those recordings will be a challenge I suspect. Can you solicit files from your supporters and not run afoul of copyright law? I’m sure we all have files we’d be happy to have reviewed for the project.

    • I’m confident that I will be able to get my ears and analysis tools on all of the albums…I’ll be reaching out to high-resolution purchasers for help too.

  • Will be a much anticipated resource for music lovers. Thank you for the endless effort and love you pour into your business and hobby! I have learnt so much from your articles and posts and will no doubt continue to do so for years to come.

  • Camilo Rodriguez

    Hey Mark,

    This is totally what we need, and so does the recording industry. This will reflect practices and inform the listener about them, as well as give him and her an insight about how recording music works, and how different the practices and the quality can be. It’s a gargantuan effort, and as such extremely valuable. I applaud your initiative and wish we saw a second wave of it, turning the studios and labels that do a good job transparent to the listeners, offering them the full specs of the recordings they buy. I can’t show enough appreciation for this fabulous initiative!

    This is fact based and objective information that will contribute to accountability, which sounds like a weird word to used when it comes to music recordings, but since we pay premium price for the advertised premium quality of a specific product, it is only fair. And as things are today, quite needed. We can only hope that this will put pressure on the industry to step up its game, stop lying to customers and do false advertisement.
    You could even add a special feature and negative qualifications or awards to the worse every week. Some shaming is in order too. Who knows, maybe this will prompt services like QOBUZ to retract their false guarantees and stop abusing their clients. Etc, etc, lots of good consequences could come from this. Way to go, Mark!

    Kudos and many thanks for this project Mark, scores highly indeed!



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