Capitol Audio Fest & NY Audio Show Reports | HD-Audio Challenge Update

My timing was pretty much right on. As the east coast gets hammered by frigid air and winter’s first snowfall, I was winging my way back to Los Angeles last Monday morning. I spent 10 days participating in Gary Gill’s Capitol Audio Fest and the New York Audio Show at the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South. The intervening days were spent visiting a few museums in DC and visiting the Cattus Island park in Tom’s River. Being on a sabbatical has its benefits. Both shows were very successful and memorable for different reasons.

The AIX Records booth at the CAF 2019

Capitol Audio Fest

It’s been a few years since I participated in the CAF. In fact, the last time I attended it was held in the heat of a DC summer. Gary moved it to the fall a couple of years ago and if this year was any indication, it could well become my favorite. The primary reason being because the CAF was founded and is run by an audiophile (like AXPONA used to be before Steve Davis sold it to JD Events and they went corporate and profit crazy). Kudos to Gary Gill! I will definitely be back.

I arrived at the hotel and surveyed the atrium area where the Marketplace was already setup. Because I required power for my new iPad/Benchmark-centered music server, my table was in a distant and very dimly lit corner. Thankfully, Gary was kind enough to include me in the seminars and I packed the 50 person theater at 3 pm. My presentation focused on recent developments in the hi-res streaming, networked audio, and music provenance — to a very receptive audience. Many audience members followed me back to my dark corner and purchased the Music and Audio Guide (in fact, I sold almost 50 copies by the end of the weekend — almost double the number I moved in Chicago back in April!).

On Saturday morning, Gary enlisted a few volunteers to move my tables and setup to the main hallway on the main level. The picture above proved to be ideal and I was thrilled at the traffic, interest by the attendees, and sales. Gary was right — this was the spot he had recommended at the outset.

The New York Audio Show

The Chester Group held its much smaller audio show at the Park Lane Hotel adjacent to Central Park south. On Thursday afternoon, I rolled in my suitcases and the few remaining boxes of books to my location just around the corner from the registration desk. Again, it was a perfect location. Things were much smaller at the Park Lane. The marketplace was right in front of me and the few vendors that signed up were packed in like sardines. Chesky, Mytek, Qobuz, Tweak Audio and Acoustic Sounds were all in there as visitors squeezed their way around.

Louis Manno was also in the hallway with a glass case full of cartridges and tone arms. His Audio History Library and Museum is a traveling exhibit that highlights the development of our audio art. A very nice guy — and knowledgeable — guy. He walked away on Sunday afternoon with the last signed copy of my book.

The NY Audio Show and more…

It was nice to be back in New York after at least 5 years. I managed to connect with a lot of readers and made some new ones. On Friday afternoon as I looked across to the Chesky table, I noticed David Chesky talking to a very familiar face. It was Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein fame — the reporters that brought down President Richard Nixon back in the 1970s and were featured in the movie All the President’s Men)! I recognized him immediately and was thrilled that he stepped over to my table. We chatted for a few moments and he told me that he “wanted to support a fellow author”. I signed a copy of my book to him! Amazing! I thanked him for buying the book and expressed my sincerest gratitude for what he did — and continues to do — for the United States.

A short time later, bassist Ron Carter also purchased a personalized copy of the book. Having two celebrities stop by the AIX Records table and walk away with copies of my book was the highlight of the trip.

I managed to sell another 30 copies of the Music and Audio Guide. In fact, I sold out and had to take orders, which I took to the post office yesterday. The New York Show is very small. They don’t hold any seminars due to space limitations and attendees could visit every room in just a few hours. Don’t forget there is a 50% discount available by using coupon code MAAG191016.

HD-Audio Challenge II: HD vs. CD

Thanks very much for the input and enthusiasm for the upcoming study on the perceptibility of hi-res music over lower resolution formats like CD-Audio. At the present time there are over 250 individuals that have expressed interest in participating — thank you for signing up. I have finished uploading the 20 test tracks to my Dropbox. They are labeled either ACRONYM-A.wav or ACRONYM-B.wav at random. I actually searched for a randomizer to select with version is high-resolution and which is the Red Book version.

Downloading the Files – An Update

I suspect Dropbox is going to choke if everyone tries to download 6.7 gigabytes of high-resolution audio files at the same time, so don’t rush to click the link I send you. The files will be available for the next few months — maybe longer. If you’ve signed up, you’ll receive an email with a link to the folder containing the files.

Updated Corrected Files

Since I sent out the initial link to the Dropbox with the files, a reader informed me that one file was silent and another had tags that might skew the results. So I have remedied the problems and uploaded replacement files. The new ones are labeled MOR2 and TIU2. If you downloaded the files prior to November 12, 2019, you should revisit the Dropbox page and retrieve those updated files.

Below you will find a complete listing of the files to be used in this evaluation

  1. MCQMozart Clarinet Quintet – Mvt 4 – Allegretto con Variationi 8:32
  2. IMP90Impromptu Op.90 #1 In C 9:55
  3. FSFStravinsky – Firebird Suite – Mvt. 4 Finale  3:37
  4. VSVivaldi – Sinfonia No. 1 7:07
  5. SSAMScarlatti Woodwind Quintet – Mvt 4 2:28
  6. BMS Bright Morning Star 3:35
  7. BSTJBubba Shot the Jukebox 3:26
  8. TIU2Tear It Up 3:41
  9. DFDarcy Farrow 4:09
  10. IGItalian Girls 5:03
  11. MOR2Memories of Rio 5:20
  12. PRIPrimavera 4:41
  13. MAMoonlight Acoustica (segment) 4:55
  14. LBITLulu’s Back In Town– 2:34
  15. CIRCCircles 7:12
  16. MYSIMysterious Integratron 5:12
  17. MMMMy My My 4:52
  18. SLABHSomething Like A Broken Heart 4:00
  19. OYIAIKOnly You Know and I Know 3:31
  20. LSLone Star 4:19

Submitting Results

Once you’ve completed your listening tests, you can submit your results using a newly created form. I’m almost finished with the form but thought I would solicit advice on what to ask. Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Identify whether A or B is high-resolution for each of the 20 tracks. There is also the option to state you couldn’t tell them apart.
  2. Experience – Professional Engineer |Golden Ear Consumer | Moderately Experienced | Casual Listener | Novice
  3. Listening Environment – Studio | Very Quiet | Moderately Quiet | Quiet | Noisy – Please rank the background noise level of your listening environment.
  4. Equipment Level – Top of the Line Audiophile (>$50K) | Very Good Audiophile ($25K-$50K) | Moderate Audiophile ($10K-$25K) | Good System ($5K-$10K) | Basic Setup (<$5K) Please estimate the value of the reproduction system used for this evaluation.
  5. Speakers – Professional Studio Monitors | Audiophile – Electrostatic Audiophile – with super tweeter | Audiophile – 2 or 3 way Audiophile with Subwoofer | Audiophile with super tweeter and subwoofer | Other (Please specify in system details) | Didn’t use speakers
  6. Headphones/In Ear Monitors – Closed Back | Open Back | On-Ear | Over-Ear | In-Ear Earbuds | Bone Conduction | Didn’t use Headphones Other (Please specify in system details)
  7. Reproduction Source – DAP – Digital Audio Player (Portable) | Music Server | Computer | Cellphone | Tablet | Universal Disc Player | Network Audio System | Other (List in system details below) Please provide the device or piece of equipment used to playback the files.
  8. System Details – Please describe the equipment you used for this test. Please list the entire signal chain: source component (computer, digital audio player, networked audio server, other etc.), DAC, cables, preamplifier, amplifier, and speakers.
  9. Additional Comments/QuestionsPlease feel free to make any additional comments or ask questions in the space provided.

I’ll get the form up with the next day or so.

Thanks again for the support. Please help spread the word about the study. I’d love to have at least 500 participants.


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.

7 thoughts on “Capitol Audio Fest & NY Audio Show Reports | HD-Audio Challenge Update

  • Michal Urban

    Hmm, just learned that I’ve got a (very) basic setup… I thought it was “pretty good”!

    • Admin

      Actually, I have a very basic setup as well. Using my iPad, VOX, the Benchmark DAC3B and headphone/preamp produces sound as good as anything I saw at the show. Just add headphones or powered speakers.

      • Michal Urban

        Even when I add up my speaker and headphone systems, I’m far from $5k. It’s not hard to assemble a great system for even $1k when tapping into used market. Quality at that level makes it really hard to justify moving up. Most will just use their phone with earbuds…

  • Joe Whip

    It was great to meetup and chat with you again at CAF. Glad to see you were moved from that dark corner on Saturday. CAF has come a long way in the past few years.

    • Admin

      Nice to see you too Joe.

  • Michal Urban

    I started listening to Mark’s samples and I can say it’s going to be really hard. Very quickly I realized I’ll need some tool to facilitate fast switching between tracks while keeping the position. For Mac users like myself I’ve found the Lacinato ABX Shootouter (also works on Win/Linux). I may check out foobar2000 with its ABX Comparator plugin as well, but it’s Windows only.

    BTW – both tools also allow setting the start/end position that can be looped.


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