HD-Audio Fakes

About a year ago, a customer called and asked about MAXD as an HD-Audio format. I said that I hadn’t heard about MAXD but would look into it and get back to him. It turns out that the company is located just a few miles from me. So I looked at their website, downloaded their white papers and began doing a little research…before I called over there and asked if I could come by and demo the system myself.

The basic gist of their pitch is that they claim they can deliver “HD-Audio” in the same bandwidth as a standard MP3 file. And who wouldn’t want that, right? Their technical explanation is pretty non-specific, although they do state that they are not merely using EQ to boost the low and high ends of the processed tracks. The company is publicly traded and has been able to associate with some celebrity musicians to help market their technology. No less than Mick Fleetwood and Pitbull are shown cheering about the sound quality of a MAXD processed file.

So I visited their offices and got the demo. I sat in a small meeting room and listened to an A|B comparison of two sound files. the waveforms were displayed on a monitor at the front of the room. I’ve looked at hundreds of sound files displayed this way and knew right away that these were highly compressed and had obviously gone through the standard mastering stage of normal record production. The head of the company played the tune and alternately switched between the “standard CD rip” and the MAXD processed version of the same tune. There was tremendous difference. They were both essentially the same volume but one was bright and crisp with a heavy bass and the other timbrally balanced and contained. Asked which I preferred, I selected the non-hyped version. It turned out to the be CD rip at 44.1 kHz 16-bits. As a seasoned engineer and especially since I had been a mastering guy for over a decade, I knew exactly what was going on and wasn’t about to pick something just because it pushed the high and low ends of the spectrum.

But they said they didn’t use EQ so how did they make the high and low end more apparent? It’s not difficult at all. There are digital signal processors that modify the amplitude and phase relationships of a track, which can clarify specific frequency ranges. One of the other engineers at my office and I actually mocked up the MAXD process in about 30 minutes.

There’s nothing there other than marketing hype. And that marketing hype is all about how MAXD is bringing HD-Audio into the mainstream just like HD-Video replaced standard definition video. It’s obvious that they’re tailoring a new set of clothing for the emperor and fooling a lot of investors and customer along the way. They have an Android app that applies their magic fairy dust to any music track in your library. Apparently, it’s as simply as that and presto you have HD versions of all of your favorite music.

This is a prime example of why more information is needed. There’s a lot of hot air out there.


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.

2 thoughts on “HD-Audio Fakes

  • Jeff Wilson

    Elitist Audiophiles crack me up, especially when they are narrow minded linear thinking engineers. MAXD does indeed creates a much better audio experience as evidenced by a recent University of Florida study and by the random sampling of hundred of individuals who listened to MP3 technology compared to same tech enhanced by MAXD technology. The new result was that each individual highly preferred the MAXD audio experience.
    In addition, Inventor Lloyd Trammel designed the MAXD technology. His CV In relation to experience in Audio, I can assure you, is much greater than this article’s author.

    • Jeff, my guess is that you work for or have some relationship with MAXD or the people behind it. Am I right? I’ve been to their offices, met with John and Lloyd and have experienced their “revolutionary” technology. Of course, students and others are going to hear the MAXD process as “better” just like people prefer the TV monitors in the stores hyped with the brightness turned all the way up. The MAXD process is BS…all they do is make it louder and push the highs and lows. Nothing special…the same can be done by any competent audio professional.

      I’m not going to try an compete with Lloyd Trammel with credentials and experience. I’m confident in my own abilities and experience. Thanks for your comments.


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