AXPONA Show Report Day 2

It’s been really challenging to provide endless demos of my recordings through the system we’ve assembled at APXONA with my badly swollen left knee. Yep, my post 7th LA Marathon run may be catching up with me as I near retirement age. It’s not really painful but uncomfortable — it feels like a ball of fluid has filled my knee and refuses to flow away. I’ll make it back to Los Angeles and go back to visit my doctor. I’ve had an MRI but was assured nothing was wrong. This can’t be nothing.

Yesterday, I managed to escape the confines of the Lakeshore B ballroom and drift around the marketplace, the headphone area, and up stairs briefly. The marketplace has the usual vendors selling vinyl LPs, audiophile CDs, and boxed sets. I ran into Kevin from Elusive Disc. He and I have stood behind a sales table many times in the past. He told me they’ve had great traffic of the past couple of days.

Others were busy selling accessories, speaker cables, power cords, and expensive tweaks to unsuspecting audiophiles. As I passed one vendor, I noticed a sort of manifesto about the myths of cables. They had a Q&A list about cable myths. Are stranded cables better than single conductor ones? Does lowering the resistance improve the fidelity of a cable? Can interconnects actually be directional? I read the sheet with interest as I listened to the salesperson shove unending nonsense to the potential customer holding a $500 3-foot USB cable. The marketplace was filled with cable vendors so I imagine they must do a bustling business.

As I wondered through the marketplace ballroom, I couldn’t help but hear the very loud rumbling of the adjacent Seaton Sound room. I haven’t actually been in their sectioned off portion of the large ballroom but their intrusive low frequencies were booming through the soft, moveable wall and disrupting the conversations in the marketplace. I heard from several companies that management and individuals have requested that they tone down their volume — they refused. How polite. Loud isn’t necessarily better.

In the hallway outside of the marketplace where I have my AIX Records sales table, several companies feel they have permission to blast loud music into a common area. I’ve complained about this in the past but nothing has been done. Companies that need to play sound as part of their show plan should be required to secure a closed room. If you’re demonstrating through headphones, as we do, then you can occupy a common area without disturbing your neighbors. The level of sound played by the speaker parts company down the hall and even my adjacent neighbor is rude and inconsiderate. Why doesn’t the show management guarantee that the hallway and marketplace remain areas where quiet conversations can take place? If you want to demo sound, get a room!

When I got upstairs, the hallways were filled with visitors. I only had the chance to visit a couple of rooms before heading back to my demo room. The Aurum Cantus speakers in Room 510 are worth a listen — very clean, transparent sounding although not all of the content selected was of equal quality. Here was a company making great sound AND beautiful cabinetry — highly polished 14 layers of piano like finish. The pair they were playing was $2000 and sounded very good.

I didn’t find any other rooms playing 5.1 surround music. I seem to be the last man standing when it comes to surround music delivery. There were a couple of home theater systems pumping out loud soundtracks in surround (including the previously mentioned Seaton Sound) but the lack of new productions in surround has limited its appeal. Still the people that heard my stuff and the new “JMK” 5.1 surround Blu-ray album were very impressed. I’m anxious to hear back from the 20 people that purchased the “JMK” album and listened to it in their own systems. The degree of active panning and immersive surround mixing on the record is unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

My own 5.1 “stage” mixes are aggressive but remain static once established. I haven’t taken the step of actively moving guitars or percussion in the midst of the track. But John did that and more with his mixes because the parts are synthesized. If you visit the website, you can audition the music in stereo. But it’s not until you get a chance to listen in full surround that you’ll understand the real magic in this multi-textured music. I’ll have to set up download of a 5.1 interleaved file so potential customers can check out the 5.1 music mixes.

I’m up and getting ready for my last day at the show. Then it’s a race to the airport and a few hour trip back to Los Angeles — and Charlie. He’s going to be so glad to have me back. I don’t think the dog sitter can throw a Frisbee.


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 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.

9 thoughts on “AXPONA Show Report Day 2

  • Joe Whip

    I have a similar issue with my left knee. Osteoarthritis. A royal PITA. Swelled up on a 14 hour plane ride. Getting old..,but it beats the alternative!

  • Dr. Glen Rasmussen

    Hey Mark, thanks for all your great Audio reporting. I am a sports med Chiropractor, 61 years old, three marathons and thousands of miles under my belt. Clear Mri, did they screen you for Gout? My uric acid levels, did not show up for over a year, three blood test. It is only 20% of the time just in the knee, usually the big toe, and ankle are involved. Taking the allipurinal for 3-5 days will reduce the pain dramatically and is often diagnostic, or if you get a shot of cortisone, get them to sample the knee fluid for uric acid. My orthopedist, who missed mine should have sampled mine after a minor Knee arthroscopic procedure produced no results. 6 months later + for gout. I cut out most Red meat, and cut back on the booze, and I am good to go. Just a suggestion, because like any problem, there is a reason and hopefully a solution. Cheers

    • Thanks Glen,

      Since I’ve returned from the AXPONA show, I’ve limited my exercise to walking and bike riding. The need is better —  much better but still a little weird. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll be seeing my doctor soon and will provide some additional information. I don’t eat meat and rarely drink (except at the local Mexican restaurant once or twice a month). I’m not in pain any longer thank goodness.

  • I got that water-on-the-knee thing after one of my marathons and it was quite goofy. I could push on my kneecap and it would quiver all around like jello. It didn’t hurt but was just strange feeling. Doctor told me to just let it go and eventually it all drained out somewhere and went away, but, it was a few weeks or maybe even a couple of months. I would freak out people by showing them the two knees and then inviting them to push on the big side. LOL.

    I hope the show ended up being productive for you, even with the annoyance of the Pars folks or others invading your space.

    • The show is always fun. However, what used to be a personal mission on the part of the founder Steve Davis has become a business venture with the sole focus on maximizing profits. I’m not going to put together a demo at the next AXPONA. This was the last hurrah.

  • Alan Payne

    Among the many interconnects to which I have access there is quite a range of difference in sound (realizing that cables don’t usually make sounds) among them. My quandary is which cable is closest to correct? Some sound better to my ear; some are “warmer”; some sound clearer; some leaner; and so on. One even causes my system to “screech”; not really, but it is unpleasant to listen to for very long. And price doesn’t seem to correlate with which is better.

    • I’m not a believer is using cables to “adjust” the color or fidelity of a system. In fact, I’ve never experienced the kind of changes you describe with good quality cables — especially digital interconnects (see today’s post).

  • Very sorry to hear your comment on last man standing on decent multi channel audio. Frankly it really pisses me off that there is still this ridiculous and restricting division – hi-fi on the one hand and ‘home cinema’ on the other. Music should and does stand on its own but a visual aspect when playing music can make the experience so much more emotionally enjoyable. Oppo have just released a new audiophile level universal blu-ray player that i’m mighty interested in as it combines superb on board DAC’s and superb video playback. Just been reading some comments about it and some people see bewildered by why anyone would want a combination of these two characteristics!

    Oh Well

    • We had really terrific sound in the ballroom…as good or better than I’ve ever delivered. The unfortunate thing is it doesn’t matter. I read about an upcoming event where someone was going to show off $125,000 headphone system. They listed the expensive “megabuck” equipment and failed to mention anything about what they would play. Sad.


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