The Mice War

You may not know that David Chesky in addition to founding and operating HDtracks and Chesky Records is a very accomplished musician, composer, and Grammy nominee. He and I have known each other since I started AIX Records back in 2000. We’d run into each other at trade shows and have brief conversations about high-fidelity audio in the lunch line or during the load in. And I’ve always felt a kinship with him due to our mutual love of music, technology, composition, and great sounding recordings. My life choices didn’t take me to Taiwan, where David has been the composer-in-residence for the National Orchestra of Taiwan. I stopped composing many years ago but David has managed a major career as a performer and composer.

His bio tells the story:

“David Chesky, a three-time Grammy nominee, is the composer-in-residence for the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. David’s works span both jazz and classical genres, and have earned him the distinction of being the only jazz composer ever to be nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Classical Composition. His operas, ballets, and orchestral works have been performed all around the world. David has developed is own unique style of composition he calls Urban Orchestral. This music emanates from the sounds he hears on the streets of New York. Also a pianist, David performs with the Grammy-nominated group The Body Acoustic, an ensemble that performs a mixture of Latin jazz and 12-tone contemporary classical works. In addition to working with major classical orchestras, David has performed at the world-famous jazz club The Village Vanguard, as well as the Newport, JVC, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. Besides being a musician and composer, David is also known worldwide as one of the leaders in the advancement of technological research on high-resolution recording techniques. He has produced hundreds of classical and jazz albums from artists as diverse as Peggy Lee, Astor Piazzolla, John Pizzarelli, Chuck Mangione, The Royal Philharmonic, and the great classical pianist Earl Wild.”

Yesterday, I received an email from him announcing the launch of his first KickStarter campaign. The project seeks funds to turn his theatrical production “The Mice War”, a comedic children’s musical, into an animated movie. You can check out the KS page by clicking here. His goal is high ($298,000) but when you’ve been in the production business as long as I have, I don’t blink at numbers in that range. It takes a lot of effort and expensive talent to do a first class job animating a story. And from the description of the project, he’s planning a fully 3D rendered project…think “Toy Story” or any other Pixar blockbuster.

He’s already recorded the music and dialog tracks. The only thing his campaign will fund is the animation of the story.

As readers of this blog, you know I try to avoid blatant advertising or misplaced promotion…except for my own AIX Records catalog, of course. But David is a good friend and serious artist. This project is worthy of your support. I will be signing on as a backer and hope that you will consider adding your name to the list…at any level.


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 thoughts on “The Mice War

  • max gruzen

    HD tracks has been ripping off people for years with there mp3/192 $25.00 downloads. I downloaded over 40 (forty) albums this year and when i finally got one that was simply so bad that i couldn’t play it i asked for a credit return. I was told they don’t make um, just sell um. A company with no moral compass.

    • If you’ve been a reader of this site, you know that I am at odds with HDtracks on the continued labeling of older masters as “high-res”. They’re right when they say they don’t do the transfers or select the masters. That happens within the mastering facilities of the labels. In this way, they’re not different than every other “high-res” download site out there…Qobuz, ProStudiosMasters, SuperHiRez and HighResMusic. They sell what they get. I have pushed hard for the labels, the organizations, the retailers and everyone else to establish meaningful standards for the files they download. My little effort isn’t likely to make any difference.

      I’m not defending HDtracks and today’s post should not be taken as anything more than support for a fellow composer and artist.

  • I have, value, and have received lots of enjoyment from Chesky recordings. His HDtracks on the other hand will never see a single cent from me again. BS walks and money talks. HDtracks is BS. They refuse to spend even 2 minutes checking on what they sell. They sell too many tracks at inflated prices that aren’t HD at all. Come on Mark, Chesky has made some good recordings. His HDtracks venture is morally, ethically and according to your own standards of Hirez, technically bankrupt.

    Anyone with any integrity would sell only what they think is hirez. Even if it is sourced from tape I can give them a little slack. They will willingly and without any due diligence sell items not at all hirez in any way shape or form. You might get store credit at best. Or not. They don’t treat the consumer honestly. They don’t perform the most rudimentary checking. They are in it for the bucks. Plain and simple.

    Sure they are at the mercy of what masters are provided to them. If they curated those a bit and sold only the good stuff, while bypassing the rest I could support them. They don’t do that. If there is a market and they get garbage for a master to work with, they will sell it to you at a premium. If you are close friends with David, give him a clue, ask him on the up and up how he sleeps at night with what he does. Or call it like you should see it. Friends or no, HDtracks isn’t the friend of the audiophile looking for good recordings. They are in it for the bucks.

    • Dennis, I’ve been working on getting HDtracks to change their ways for years…and I think I’m making progress. But to be fair, they aren’t alone in their making approach and business practices. All of the companies/sites that sign deals with the major labels operate the same way. The agree to offer the catalog that is provided by the labels (which they and the CEA, DEG and others call high-resolution) through their sites. They do make an effort to check the content but they really aren’t in a position to decide which to approve and which to reject. They have minimum payment guarantees that have to be met…and it’s a tougher business now that their are so many sites vying for the same customer.

      The stuff that HDtracks and others offer is as good as the labels have made available. It’s just that simple. I think they could market the stuff with more transparency and provide more information and charge less but I’m not in charge.

      I’m working on it.

  • Joe Whip

    I must respectfully disagree with Dennis. He seems rather harsh. I have quite a few downloads from HDTracks. Some sound simply sensational, even those sourced from analog tape. My simple rule is to look for the “about this title” at the top. If they are certain that they are sourced from the actual original masters, they say so. If they don’t, assume it is not or they don’t know and buy accordingly, or not. You can’t blame a retailer for selling the best product that is available to them. The Chesky stuff they can supply with known provenance as they are their own recordings. They can’t force any other record company to supply them what they want. As long as things are properly labeled, I have no issue.

  • I recently paid $19.95 for the Animals – Retrospective. I guess they charged twenty bucks cause they consider it a 2 CD file with 22 tracks. But at 24/88 my god, it sounds like a needle drop recording of a bunch of 50 year old 45s, really horrid. The words Hi Rez shouldn’t even be on the same page as the promo for this album.

    • That sounds like a really bad one. I’ve been a little busy but the HRADB.com site is still under construction. The site will be able to identify files that aren’t worthy.

    • Sal,

      You are being too harsh, they get what they get, what’s a business man gonna do?

      An excellent example. If the sound is as you describe, which I don’t doubt, all it took was someone at HDtracks spending a couple minutes listening to it. Does a business get a free pass if some of their music is good, yet some is like this? Can you say anything other than they are willing to put these out and hope for not too many complaints because they are trying to make back their upfront money? I understand they may think they have to do it, but it isn’t great service to customers. It won’t make you so quick to pull the trigger in the future will it? Somehow down the road when potential customers are uncertain about what they get, you’ll simply lose them as customers.

      Now if that is all they have, and they are willing to tell me that no problem? I might pay for some certain music otherwise hard to get in order to get it in a file I can put on my music computer. In which case with disclosure I wouldn’t feel like a chump to have been a customer.

      How can they deal with this, would perhaps their contract prevent them from doing this?

      How about offering say two half songs as a sample from any offering? That way a customer can sample quality and make something of an informed decision. Maybe in time they could convince the people who send them music that real hires quality music has better sales. As it stands, you are just trusting them to send you good stuff. And depending on your orders that experience may convince you they aren’t to be trusted very much. Regardless of who is the most guilty party in unsatisfactory quality in the music downloads it hurts future sales because trust has been eroded.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *