Dr. AIX's POSTS — 28 June 2015

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The high-res music listening party at Battery Studios last week continued as our group of about ten migrated to Mark Wilder’s mastering room. You can read the first installment by clicking here. Mastering rooms are not large…not nearly as large as my main studio room. But they don’t have to be. The engineer sits in front of his mastering console and speakers and is surrounded by transports and other outboard processors. Take a look at the picture below.

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Figure 1 – Mark Wilder in his mastering room at Battery Studios.

The program for the evening informed us that Mark was going to playback his recent work on projects of Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck. Just about every audiophile who enjoys jazz is a fan of these two legends. And I’m very proud to say that I had close encounter of the best kind with Dave Brubeck. How many times in your life will you pick the phone and have a conversation with a celebrity of his stature?

But in 1985 while I was sitting at my desk in the music department at CSU Northridge, I picked up the phone and said, “Hello”. An unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line said, “Hello, this is Dave Brubeck.” As you can imagine, I just about fell out of my chair. It turned out that a student in my diatonic harmony class (I taught music theory part time and ran the tech department of the music program) worked at a classy hotel as a parking valet. Mr. Brubeck noticed him doing his music homework and struck up conversation. One thing led to another, which led the student to recommend me to Dave as an expert in MIDI and notation software. Dave invited my wife and I to his concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall and we spent a fair amount of time backstage chatting about his project. That was one of the most memorable things that has ever happened to me. I never spoke to him again but can tell you that he was among the most gracious gentleman I’ve ever met. He introduced my wife and I to his wife and sons in the green room…wow!

I should write a post on some of the other musical luminaries I’ve met and or worked with…but that will have to wait for another day. It includes John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Leonard Bernstein, John Adams, John Chowning, Elliot Carter, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Iannis Xenakis, Michael Tilson Thomas, György Ligeti, and that’s not including the rock musicians I’ve worked with like Neil Young and Kiss. I’ve been very fortunate to have an interesting and very fun life and career doing something that I love.

The sound in Mark’s room was exceptional. Here’s another photo from the evening:

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Figure 1 – It’s me sitting in Mark Wilder’s chair at Battery Studio during the high-resolution listening event last week.

Yes, it’s me – Dr. AIX – taking my turn sitting in the sweet spot during the playing of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” three-track master. Thanks to Harris Fogel for taking the shot and sharing it with me.

The process of identifying, transferring, restoring, and remastering important albums takes great equipment, great skill, and great ears. It was obvious that the people at Battery Studios are among the best in the business. In spite of the fact that I spent 16 years as a mastering engineer and got to work on projects for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company, The Rolling Stones, Ambrosia and the San Francisco Symphony, it’s a still a thrill to visit with other professionals and see what they do.

And then we moved over to Matt Cavaluzzo’s room. Stay tuned.

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About Author

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.

(8) Readers Comments

  1. Ciao Mark,

    As always, thanks for the great report from Battery Studios – and the great photo.
    Reminds me of the time I got to sit at Frank Lloyd Wright’s drawing board at Taliesin.
    By the bye, Harris Fogel once lived in the very same condo in Palm Springs where I am typing.

    Next time you are passing through Palm Springs, stop in at 411 Calle Alvarado, just north of the Casino.
    Along with the vintage gear (Advent, ADS, Marantz, Sansui) I have 3 pair of Linkwitz designs.
    You talk, I’ll listen (and pour).

    Please bring Ms Aix, my wife is and I would be delighted to see ‘the both of you’

    Yours for the Small World, I remain,, Randy B.

    • Thanks for the invite Randy. I definitely need to plan a road trip and visit some of the many friends that I’ve made through this blog.

  2. Hi,

    Today you stated: “The sound in Mark’s room was exceptional.”

    I would appreciate if you could elaborate on that statement. What accounted for this – source, amplication, playback?

    Best,

    Scott

  3. I’m sure you’ve mentioned it before but I may be having a senior moment.
    Where did the name Dr AIX come from?

    • My records company is AIX Records and my production company is called AIX Media Group. I hold a Ph.D. in music so I thought my “DJ” name should be Dr AIX.

  4. I’d be interested to know what you made out of “Take Five”.

    I’ve been a Brubeck fan since the sixties and have both LP and two CD versions that include that track among many others featuring the Dave Brubeck Quartet. One perennial problem is boom on the double bass. I had previously thought it intractable until I listened to a CD through Quad electrostatic speakers. Suddenly Eugene Wright was there in the soundstage plucking his bass, rather than somewhere in the next room heard through a curtain.

    I am sure the original 60s recording had its sonic limitations. Were you able to do much to clean up the sound?

    • I didn’t work on the “Take Five” track, although I wish I had. The sound and mix of the original master is quite revealing. Paul Desmond’s sax sound present and close, the bass is clear and very well defined, but the piano is dull and distant to my ear. The analog tapes are quiet and quite dynamic.

  5. Mark,
    Very interesting and informative subject.
    As a foreigner I am sometimes amused and sometimes perplexed that even teachers don’t know the difference between “I” and “me”. Here is a hint: If it is passive it is “me”, if it is active it is “I”.
    As an example: Gerald invited my wife and ME to his party. The other party is the active one.
    other example: My wife and I invited Gerald to our party. We are the active party. This goes on and on and is always correct.
    So if Dave invited you and your wife, it is wonderful, but only when the grammar is correct.

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