Dr. AIX's POSTS — 30 July 2015

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It took ten days of posts and a set up day, but the list is complete. In case you missed it, my recent posts laid out ten very easy steps that organizations, labels, download sites, and consumer electronics companies can take to give hi-res audio/music a fighting chance of success. I’d like to present them in a single post today. Do I really think that any of the interested parties will pay any attention and rethink their positions? No, it would be very difficult for them to move back from the abyss and change their strategy. But who knows…

I’ve been corresponding with a major CE company over the past couple of weeks about an update to their inclusion of iTrax on one of their sites. They want a new and shorter site description, a list of formats that we offer, and some products that I would like to highlight on a rotating basis. They provided me a draft article that describes the “best sites to acquire high-resolution content” and then goes on to list the best sites…and iTrax.com is listed as number 4! I’m very thankful. But as I read the article, I was surprised to see “hi-res audio songs” used to describe the stuff that HDtracks and iTrax sells. This is new wording. It’s not “hi-res audio” or “hi-res music”. The dueling definitions and logos that are competing for branding attention are confusing enough. I offered to help…I’ll let you know.

I’m being completely sincere in hoping that the interested parties accept some or all of my suggestions. Heck, I’d be thrilled to learn that they’re even discussing them…or even know of them. Here they are one last time:

1. Lose the term Hi-Res – Focus on the message of “best available fidelity” rather than two conflicting definitions that use “hi-res”, focus the message, develop one logo and get everyone behind it.

2. Play actual hi-res samples – The labels and retailers should make sure that customers can acquire “high-res” sample files BEFORE purchase so they can test them, play them and verify the fidelity is acceptable.

3. Charge the same as regular res – Establish a single price for the CD spec audio and the high-res version. Give people a “brainless” reason to go with better.

4. Provenance information – Include the source format, production path, and delivery specs with every file. At least say whether the source was an analog tape, vinyl LP, or digital file.

5. Abandon DSD – DSD is not a mainstream format and will never be one. It exists for audiophiles and high-end manufacturers. There are no commercial hit recordings being done using DSD. Let it go…at least for the sake of clarity.

6. Get knowledgeable endorsements – Don’t let celebrities like Neil Young be the voice of high-res music. He’s a great musician, rock star, and songwriter but he’s under informed about high-res music. His Pono devices are nice enough but PonoMusic is shoveling CD rips instead of sticking with the “rediscover the soul of music” theme he started with.

7. Demo compelling new recordings – Don’t limit demos to the “tried and failed” bunch of old analog mastered that David Pogue and others have labeled as “audio voodoo” and “emperor’s new clothes”. Play some newly recorded and sonically spectacular tunes. Drop their jaws!

8. Set up a website – Provide a clearinghouse for all relevant information about “hi-res”. And make sure that someone knowledgeable edits the content.

9. Start small and expand the audience – Recognize that “hi-res” should be marketed to a very small but dedicated group of audio fans. If we can get them engaged and talking then we can expand to the masses.

10.Be honest – Don’t exaggerate, avoid terms like “blown away”, be honest, and just tell it like it is. Honesty is still the best policy.

That’s it. All ten suggestions on a single page. I would encourage anyone with audio connections to share this list. We can have an impact.

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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.

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