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.

19 thoughts on “Qobuz Again

  • May 19, 2015 at 7:29 pm
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    Email to JAS has been sent, hope it helps to curb the fraudulent use of the JAS logo.

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    • May 20, 2015 at 9:50 am
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      Thanks Sal. Check today’s post. To my great surprise, I did hear back from a representative of the JAS. Their logo only applies to hardware apparently.

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      • May 20, 2015 at 10:37 am
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        Funny how something that should be made so easy for a consumer to understand, that an industry professional like you can misunderstand it’s true meaning? 🙁

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    • May 20, 2015 at 9:52 am
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      I read the piece and was very tempted to write a comment. Andrew Quint, the reviewer at TAS, is a friend and has been very complimentary of my recording. I fear that he doesn’t understand the recording process and certainly doesn’t understand specifications when it comes to analog tape. And the whole capturing at DXD and ultra high-res PCM is disconcerting.

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  • May 20, 2015 at 2:19 am
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    Whilst the majority of music listeners are happy with music as some kind of aural backdrop to their lives. I on the other hand are all ways striving to obtain the best possible audio experience. I do not accept this is obtainable through voodoo or by having the most expensive products that money can buy. However, I do believe this is obtainable through scientific advancement and honesty! The digital era we are living in has provided us with (some of) the tools to fool our ears into believing that what we are hearing is the real deal! However, whilst our ears may be fooled; we do not take kindly to being fooled by music retailers trying to sell us a (high resolution) 24 bit file; when the original file was 16 bit or analogue! I must take issue when JAS licence a retailer; without them insisting that the provenance of the recording is certified. Unless someone out there is protecting the rights of the consumer, all manner of charlatan will abuse the trust of the public. I think it is time to take a protest to the UK office of fair trading as international bodies are putting profit ahead of honesty!

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    • May 20, 2015 at 9:53 am
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      If I can get the database up and running…at least there will be a place to check the provenance and get a few facts regarding a “high-resolution” track prior to purchase.

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      • May 21, 2015 at 1:53 pm
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        As a software developer I’m very tempted to help you out with that. Especially after hearing the story of how CDDB came about.

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        • May 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm
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          Arturo, I’m working my way through the steps…stay tuned, I’ll be reaching out.

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  • May 20, 2015 at 7:35 am
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    I sent my two cents worth to JAS. Like you, I doubt I’ll hear back, but it was good to get it off my chest.

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    • May 20, 2015 at 9:55 am
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      Read today’s post…they wrote back to me.

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      • May 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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        Hi Craig,

        From the perspective of “better sound for the everyman”, which I consider myself a part of, perhaps the most critical decision for a digital consumer of music comes when purchasing re-released music in a modern digital format. I want to know whether I should expect the digital music that I’m buying should be an improvement over a previous release. With this information, we can truly give better sound to everyman. If the same analog recordings or CD versions are being placed into high-resolution formats (without any modification), then as a consumer, this does not advance the goal of better sound for everyman. This is my take on why Mark speaks out against companies using the “HiRes” to describe all recordings that are put into “high bit buckets”. Because it may not be any better sound than we had with CDs. I appreciate Pono and other companies efforts to move away from MP3 streaming, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of confusing the consumer at best, or at worst, misleading them.

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  • May 20, 2015 at 8:59 am
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    This is likely the last comment I will make concerning your stance re: what & how better sound becomes widely available. Why? Because after collating your comments on Pono ,Tidal, and now Qobuz,one thing has become clear; for better or worse, (worse, IMHO,). You don’t care about better sound for ‘everyman.’

    Your admirable devotion to ultra-audio standards is great, although I’d bet that Hi-Res in whatever form will remain an audiophile province. But audiophiles aren’t the only folks that really enjoy music; the majority of true audio specialty gear I have sold over the last thirty years has gone to middle or upper middle class folks who simply prioritize having fine sounding music available 24/7 in their homes. Simply dividing the populace into tweaks or totally undiscriminating jambox owners means you have missed the point completely.

    It is simply the awareness of and availability of Hi-Res that has caused the publicly available median to be lifted up out of the MP-3 128 hell. As the top gets higher, it always drags the bottom up too, and this has occurred. Even within the context of my own high personal standards and being a high-end vendor for decades, knocking ANY organizations that are answering the public demand for better sound is simply inexcusable, regardless of hype level or financial motivation. 16/44 done well sounds heavenly compared to 128 MP-3, and don’t give me this “folks can’t hear the difference” bit either, and here’s why: I have guided many people over the years who came to me stating that their various hearing anomalies might preclude their ability to appreciate good sound. 100% of people, 100% of the time, always hear the difference between somewhat distorted sound and sound reproduced at very low distortion without any influencing of any kind, just a simple demonstration.

    Predicting the demise of Tidal, Pono, etc.is nothing but negative energy coming from the same well as your very clean recordings, which on a smaller scale infers that your own self-interest and financial gain is as much of a factor for you as for the outfits you diss. I simply ask, “Who does this help?”. Your stance is like knocking Whole Foods just because every single product they sell is not perfectly organic or natural. Who cares? What counts is that better food and better sound are both available on a wide scale now. Take off your blinders please and look at the big picture.
    As someone wisely said to me ” Some of these audiophiles aren’t just missing the forest for the trees, they are staring at one inch of bark.” This statement perfectly describes your point of view. You would do everyone so much more good if you would frame your stance within the positive context of “better sound for everyman.” Then criticisms such as you unceasingly make would be at least relevant and helpful to some.
    Preaching to the “haters”, wow, what a wonderful contribution. Being realistic is one thing, but cynicism and seeming vengefulness could not possibly be more out of place at this critical juncture for public interest in better sound. It may be a bitter pill, but both Tidal and Pono are not going away, keep your one-sided statistics to yourself please, I don’t need any more “one side of the coin’ perspectives. How about taking a look at both sides? Thanks.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; Good sound for the masses is more important than fantastic sound for the few. From all the words you have written, it is easily determined that

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    • May 20, 2015 at 10:23 am
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      Craig, I’m not surprised that you feel compelled to restate your positions again and again. You simply don’t want to distinguish between between new high-resolution recordings and those that are standard definition in high-res buckets. Go ahead and purchase Ponomusic downloads for premium prices, subscribe to TIDAL and convince yourself that you’re hearing “high-resolution streaming”, or frequent Qobuz’s site and spend extra money on the same old thing. No one is stopping your or the “everyman” from doing that.

      What does it mean to care about “better sound” for everyman? Does it mean fooling them into believing that by spending more money on something falsely labelled “high-res” that they’ve going experience audio nirvana? Does it mean lumping everything that ever been recorded on analog formats should wear the “hi-res” logo and be sold as something that it’s not? I written repeatedly about the fidelity of CDs and the importance of recording philosophy over formats as the best way to maximize “better sound” for everyman.

      The focus on marketing the same old standard definition audio recordings of the past as “Hi-Res” is a huge mistake. It’s not accurate, it’s confusing (how come the recordings I enjoyed 30 years ago are being resold to me again as hi-res tracks…were we listening to hi-res back in the 70s?), and it diminishes the chances that we will get better fidelity from the producers of music going forward. The push for better fidelity could have be done with honesty and integrity…and appropriate terminology. But it wasn’t and it continues to be done poorly. Short term profits have once again trumped long term success.

      I’m not against companies and sites selling the “master quality” sources in bigger bit buckets…you should know that by now. But that’s not what they’re doing. They deliberately upgrade the same old tracks to “high-res” when they’re not any better than the sources. This amounts to fraud, IMHO.

      Your experiences notwithstanding…the study that the CEA commissioned last year that compared high-resolution sources to 320 kbps MP3 files failed to establish any ability to tell the difference. This was primarily due to the poor listening conditions, the method by which the comparisons were made, the limited fidelity of the equipment used, and the lack of explanations given to the test subjects. Believe what you will Craig.

      Reporting on the issues with Pono and Tidal is not restricted to my daily posts. Have you been paying attention to other publications? WSJ, Forbes, Yahoo, etc? Neil Young’s recent interview with Leo Laporte on his show “Triangulation” has Neil railing against MP3s and CDs. Yet his Ponomusic site is populated with 99% CD rips? Pointing this out is “negative energy”? It may be negative but it’s the truth. It’s a fact…not a one sided statistic! If you prefer to support Neil’s dishonesty…you’re entitled to do so. Information needs to come from both sides of the issue. Perhaps you prefer to have the masses drink the “high-res” kool-aid. I choose to peel back the curtain and let them in on the truth behind the high-resolution audio initiatives of the labels and download sites.

      If you think spending over a hour every day (including holidays, vacations, and weekends) reporting on the HRA market is reaping me any “financial gain”, you should take a look at my bank balances. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My father has been gone a very long (I was 15 when cancer took him) but he taught me to always tell the truth. I tell the truth because it needs to be told. I don’t do this to enrich myself.

      The world can have good sound for the masses AND fantastic sound for the few…these things can coexist Craig. It’s way past time you figure that out.

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      • May 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm
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        Keep up the fight Mark. Craig appears to be an industry insider who would prefer if your worthy crusade were derailed, or at least reigned in a bit, so that the widespread deception of an at times unwitting music buying audience can be perpetuated.

        This con is no different from buying a 16 ounce steak that in reality only weighs half as much. There are laws against that sort of thing, but no one in a position of power ever thinks to look into the veracity of claims of high res files that are simply the equivalent of a JPEG file enlarged beyond 100% of its actual size.

        We’ve had enough of snake oil merchants. Keep fighting them please.

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  • May 20, 2015 at 10:32 am
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    Craig,
    Do you approve and support dishonest and fraudulent advertising?

    “Your stance is like knocking Whole Foods just because every single product they sell is not perfectly organic or natural.”

    No that’s the part you never seem to understand, if you bought a product from Whole Foods and the package was clearly marked as 100% organic and natural, then you found out it was really some produce grown under the worse conditions in China. Would that be OK because a few of their other products were as advertised?
    I wouldn’t think so?

    When Pono or Tital sell you downloads of music made on 40 year old analog equipment and call it Hi Rez that is pure deception. In fact Tital streams at best 16/44 CD resolution, where does the term Hi Rez belong at all in their promotion, an outright lie. Just because their Red Book quality streaming is worlds beyond MP3 does not give them license to attempt to BS the consumer.

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    • May 23, 2015 at 5:07 pm
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      Completely agree that 16/44 streaming SHOULD NOT be called Hi-Res. But Tidal does represent a game-changing improvement in sound quality relative to the MP-3 128 ear-Brillo. Incidentally, the reason folks are buying and loving vinyl is not the obvious presence of better sound. No, it’s the obvious and complete absence of the MP-3 distortion family, which America has found to be noxious and music interest -reducing. I also feel that too many extreme comments are made w/out regard to the real world. Folks can say anything wise or stupid they want on the Internet, and in this topic, have sure done plenty of the latter and not enough of the former.

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    • May 23, 2015 at 5:17 pm
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      I think this one needs re-stating. I will contend that such as Forbes, C-Net and the other grossly mis-informed , ‘never listened to anything’ reports should be seen as untrue as the broad-brush comments about Neil Young’s motivation. Why would he run a scam? He doesn’t need the money. The presence of CD rips is both understandable and easy to see as ‘teething pains’ for Pono. I don’t think he needs the money anymore than the Rolling Stones do, and they are playing and cooking tomorrow night in their 70’s. It’s this deep suspicion of grave tom-foolery that gets to me. Neil Young wants folks to have better sound, and it’s not a straight line process any more than is the course of the Mississippi.

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      • May 23, 2015 at 5:26 pm
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        Neil Young stated on Leo Laporte’s “Triangulation” show that music suffers when converted to MP3 AND CDs! He’s railed against CDs for decades. However, now it seems it’s OK to include rips of CD on the Ponomusic site. He believes in better sound as long as it’s recorded on analog tape. From the interviews and presentations I’ve seen, Neil doesn’t really know what he’s talking about. He wants to use different sample rate like equalizers? Come on. I’ll be getting a Pono player this week from a friend in the industry…he’s tired of using it as a “door stop” (his words not mine). I’m looking forward to checking it out.

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