Munich High End – Day 1

Flying from Los Angeles to Munich on Lufthanza was surprisingly easy on an Airbus 380. The huge plane was completely packed but getting on and off was handled pretty well by the crew. My wife and I arrived at the MOC convention center by mid afternoon on Wednesday and lugged four 50-pound boxes of books from the front curb to the shared booth at Hall 3 J15. Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings and the other partners were already busy setting up. The small corner reserved for the Music and Audio book and new AIX Records sampler disc was just big enough to place a few books and the information sheet. My task the rest of the day was to reach out to passing attendees with the sell sheet. Most people walked on by.

But I was quite pleased to engage with a number of my readers, trades people, and other audiophiles that noticed the book and disc. I answered questions, sold some books, and got used to the new surrounding. Thursday was “trade and press only” day. Experienced High End show vendors tell me there will be a lot more visitors today and through the weekend. Hopefully, some will find there way to my corner of the booth and purchase the new book.

I had the opportunity to speak with a few familiar faces. Andreas Koch of Playback Designs was just around the corner demonstrating his new components — a server, DAC, and streamer. Juan Perez of Digibit (they make a terrific server called ARIA) came by in the afternoon. Chris Connaker of Computer Audiophile and his brother wondered by too. I hadn’t chatted with him in a while but congratulated him on publishing the Archimago article on MQA. He assured me that he sent the piece to Robert Stuart prior to publication but was informed that the company didn’t wish to respond. Apparently, the previous Q&A that Chris had published was sufficient in their mind to “refute” the observations made in the new piece. It didn’t. I’m sure that MQA is hoping that the critical analysis of their lossy codec will pass without adversely affecting their business model. I’m not so sure. It’s important for our community to make sure everyone reads the article.

It’s true that some of the strongest advocates in the audiophile press still cling to their “I just like the sound” subjective positions but I’ve noticed even some of them have recently pulled back. Changing a position from MQA is the “single biggest development in the history of audio” to “it gives musicians control of their music” or “it’s at least better than MP3” is substantial. However, I’ve heard from a large number of companies and individuals — that wish to remain anonymous — that agree MQA is a bad thing for the industry but they fear the “experts” in the audiophile press will ignore their products. Makers of DACs, servers, and other high end products depend on positive press reviews to bring attention to their products, expand their distribution network, and ultimately sell more units. Having an MQA advocate slam their latest DAC as lacking because they didn’t pay the hefty MQA license fee and incorporate the codec would be bad for business — even though ignoring MQA is the right thing to do.

It’s time for those that initially hyped MQA to take another look, read the technical and scientific analysis and back off their unreasoned support. MQA is NOT needed, doesn’t deliver fidelity improvements, and actually takes the music distribution business backwards.


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.

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