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.

15 thoughts on “Cable Curiosities

  • May 24, 2015 at 3:53 pm
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    First DSD now cables. You may want to have someone start your car Mark! I am ……. unavailable!

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  • May 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm
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    Audio manufacturer Van Alstine has written extensively on subjective vs objective in audio, and cables. Hs writing on this topic is worth a read. Here is my non-EE interpretation (consult him for the better informed ‘skinny’:

    Cables, being a passive item, cannot PRODUCE anything. However, they can REproduce high frequency oscillations produced by an ampifier (or preamp) that is sensitive to load characteristics. Basically, in this case anyway (as I understand it) ,the amp is oscillating and the cable is merely passing the oscillations through.

    Frank Van Alstine is at most of the major audio shows,Mark; drop in and introduce yourself. He’s got a lot of insight into the particular topic.

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  • May 24, 2015 at 6:22 pm
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    Kimber Kable Timbres appear to be a newer version of Kimber interconnects that I had in my system some years back. They are basically a unshielded design as far as I can tell and the version I had gave me hum problems when used in different locations in my system. Could the ultrasonics you see be caused by some outside interference due to the unshielded design?

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  • May 24, 2015 at 10:32 pm
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    I looked at these files a couple days ago. I did not get 100% nulling upon reversal. There was very, very little left. I aligned them to the nearest bit, but minor clock drift prevented total cancelling of the signals. Noticed the issue with Kimber. I also noticed if you looked at the FFT of the silence just before the music some cables showed 50 hz hum and others didn’t. The van den Hul showed by far the most hum probably because it has 5 ohms resistance.

    Not that these differences were enough to explain the prose written about the sound differences. There simply is not enough difference in the files for that.

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  • May 24, 2015 at 11:34 pm
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    Ok Mark,

    Here is a question which maybe you could answer.

    I can change the sound of my high resolution stereo system by placing AAA magnets on the interconnects and/or speaker cables. No one has addressed how magnetic fields affect cables. Here is my take. (I secure AAA magnets with the + end toward the connection with electrical tape) .

    Magnets clearly change the sound. They appear to decrease shrillness at the expense of dynamic range in a direct proportion. A few magnets make the musical presentation more listenable, but too many and the sound becomes diminished in both treble and dynamics. It is an odd phenomenon which is not currently described to my knowledge.

    I thought you should know – I have no physics explanation.

    Best,
    Scott

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    • May 25, 2015 at 9:36 am
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      Magnetism and electricity are very closely related. So it’s not big surprise that you can affect the sound of your system with magnets place in close proximity to your cables…and especially around low level signals (before the amplifiers). If the changes (which are always going to distort the accurate signal) are pleasant to you ears, then keep doing it. However, a great recording playing in a great system should eclipse the magnet modified rig.

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  • May 25, 2015 at 1:09 am
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    I believe that the ultrasonic frequencies in the Kinder Kable are the result of external noise. From the next to last paragraph in the article, “Also worth noting is that the non-shielded Kimber and the Van den Hul with its relatively high shield resistance were somewhat sensitive to external noise sources such as fluorescent or energy saving lamps.” If you zoom into the fade out at the end of the file, it is especially easy to see the noise. Some of the other files show some noise, but not nearly as much as the Kinder Kable. For example, the Wireworld_Plat file shows occasional hum.

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    • May 25, 2015 at 9:37 am
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      You’re right…it makes no sense to ignore proper shielding.

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      • May 26, 2015 at 9:43 am
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        Kimber claims that their braided design alleviates the need for shielding. That was not my experience with them. I found my 1 meter sets of PBJ’s to be highly sensitive to hum pickup. Bought them after they received glowing reviews in all the major magazines in 1993. Another time I got burned by listening to the Golden Ear snake oil peddlers. 🙁

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  • May 25, 2015 at 2:56 am
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    First of all Dr. “M” – thank you for removing a lot of the “haze” I’ve had about the whole deal of High Res downloads. Your frank and honest work will be saving me a ton of money! My main question about that subject is whether putting a 16 bit/44.1 CD into a “larger high-res envelope” causes an harm (other than to my wallet)?

    As for “audiophile cables”, I’ve, for some time, have had a very nagging feeling about having to spend a high (if not VERY HIGH) percentage of a bought component’s price on a connecting cable(s) to make that component sound it’s best. Envisioning myself as a quality audio component maker, after spending years of research and development on my creation with the goal of bringing that product to market at the best quality and performance level (at ANY price point) – I would be totally embarrassed to find out from “others” that my component “absolutely” needed an expensive cable to perform to the capacity that I had in mind! As if NONE of my R&D when into making sure that any cable that the end-user would use would let all of that hard work go down the toilet! It seems, at the very least, I would “warn” the end-user to steer clear of these “inferior” cables to make sure my hard work would shine through…. I will be seeing you at T.H.E. Show this coming Friday (5/29) to shake your hand for letting me leave that event with a lot more $$$ than I would have. : )

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    • May 25, 2015 at 9:39 am
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      Upconverting CDs to larger bit buckets doesn’t do any harm but doesn’t help things either. Even Neil and Ponomusic don’t do it. As for cables, think about the care that equipment makes take in their designs…internally they use good cables but not the major audiophile brands and they properly design the power supplies to avoid needing power conditioning and expensive power cords.

      See you this weekend.

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  • May 25, 2015 at 11:47 am
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    I think cables can “change” the sound but (in most cases I suspect) not necessarily because they’re revealing more information. As has been suggested above, some cables can alter the sound of a system because they are introducing unwanted noise, or, in the case of speaker cables, interfering with the output stage stability.

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  • May 25, 2015 at 10:33 pm
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    Hello Mark

    Thank you for eliminating the mist over the cost of cable quality.
    Very helpful info.

    Cheers
    Alphonso Soosay

    Reply

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