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Mark Waldrep Advocates for High-Resolution Audio

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 

Mark Waldrep, founder and chief engineer of AIX records, discusses his passion for high-resolution audio and its importance in moving the music industry toward a higher-quality listening experience.

 

post #2 of 49
Greetings,

Great interview Scott. Mark is a passionate and knowledgeable speaker and makes lots of excellent points.

Thanks!


Regards,
post #3 of 49
Thanks so much for the opportunity David and Scott. It was great to see you in NYC and get a chance to advocate for High Definition music delivery. It's an exciting time to be producing and releasing music. I have 12 FREE tracks that can be downloaded by pinging the form at the RealHD-Audio website. They are definitely worth checking out.
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. AIX View Post

Thanks so much for the opportunity David and Scott. It was great to see you in NYC and get a chance to advocate for High Definition music delivery. It's an exciting time to be producing and releasing music. I have 12 FREE tracks that can be downloaded by pinging the form at the RealHD-Audio website. They are definitely worth checking out.

Hi. I just sent you a email request for the free tracks.

Cool site by the way. smile.gif
post #5 of 49
I appreciate what Mark is doing, though I wonder how much the audible benefit has to do with his mic'ing and recording techniques vs. 96/24 or 192/24 mastering.

Also, while I can appreciate the "no eq" philosophy, it should be acknowledged that microphone choice is a form of EQ, as all mics have their own frequency response curves (which in itself is a form of EQ).

Agree with Mark re: his philosophy of retaining of the dynamic range of the instruments and vocalists. Also agree with him about how offering different mix perspectives can be a tremendous feature in terms of personalizing the listening experience. I've also heard some of the headphone based processes he speaks about and have been very impressed.
post #6 of 49
High resolution audio is still in its growing phase. The best quality audio most common with millenials is vinyl. Pure analog quality. No wonder why daft punk relea sed ram in record form in addition to cd and mp3.
post #7 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kascnef82 View Post

High resolution audio is still in its growing phase. The best quality audio most common with millenials is vinyl. Pure analog quality. No wonder why daft punk relea sed ram in record form in addition to cd and mp3.

Vinyl is far from the highest quality format. Like Mark said about ten minutes into the video, the pinnacle of audio recording and reproduction was not achieved at some point in 1971, never to improve. Limited frequency response and dynamic range are but two of the problems with LPs, then there is the need for incredibly expensive gear—just to get sound that rivals CD quality. Daft Punk released a vinyl version precisely because the format is popular among a certain Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinking demographic, plus DJs who play clubs and use vinyl still exist.

In the end, Daft Punk sold 19,000 copies on vinyl and 221,000 downloadable albums in the first week of release. The grand total for week-one sales was 339,000, which means roughly 99,000 CDs were sold. Considering that the vinyl version was sold by Urban Outfitters, I'm actually not surprised they hit that number, but it is still very small compared to the other two formats. About the only thing you can say is that today's LPs sound as good as the format ever has, thanks to digital masters—masters that can be listened to in the original format.
Edited by imagic - 7/6/13 at 4:01pm
post #8 of 49
Mark, you are dead on correct about vinyl. For anyone who doubts that CD is superior to vinyl in just about every way, here are a couple of resources:

Sean Olive
Director of Acoustic Research
Harman International

Scott Metcalfe
Director of Recording Arts and Science
The Peabody Institute

Listen to their podcast comparing CD to vinyl:

http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201202106

An article by an actual vinyl mastering engineer:

http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourceDetail/114.html
Edited by John Schuermann - 7/6/13 at 10:35pm
post #9 of 49
Good posts (except for the Daft Punk bits...overrated comes to mind wink.gif). Noise is going to siphon away any benefits in increased resolution, assuming one has the audiophile equipment (turntable, cartridge, A/D converter, speakers, etc.) to enjoy those benefits in the first place.
post #10 of 49
Some people like the analog sound of Vinyl.
Quote:
(except for the Daft Punk bits...overrated comes to mind ).

I guess you haven't heard Tron.
post #11 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnie97 View Post

Good posts (except for the Daft Punk bits...overrated comes to mind wink.gif). Noise is going to siphon away any benefits in increased resolution, assuming one has the audiophile equipment (turntable, cartridge, A/D converter, speakers, etc.) to enjoy those benefits in the first place.
Agreed, all counts.
It is also a big assumption that the manufacturing process managed to put the mythical increased analog resolution there in the first place. LP's vary from one sample to another, CD's do not.
post #12 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by saprano View Post

Some people like the analog sound of Vinyl.
I guess you haven't heard Tron.
I am a vinyl collector (mainly club music when that was the preferred medium of choice, which was predominant until the last decade)...and I understand some like the warmth generated by the noise. I can't say as I miss it.

And yes, I have heard Tron. The best part is the club fight sequence. wink.gif The rest is forgettable generic electronic meets orchestral movie score, IMO. I prefer the deeper, headier side of Daft Punk that goes back 20 years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5v1D7jS9CU
post #13 of 49
More news on high resolution audio this week. Ready for a new format?

http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/04/high-fidelity-pure-audio/
post #14 of 49
Thanks for posting the interview and glad to see people who get it. CD is better then vinyl, I remember the first few CD's I bought back when they first came out, I bought one before I even had a player because my friend had one first and didn't know whether he'd like Peter Gabriels So album so I bought it and let him keep it till I got a player and we made a nice cassette and reel to reel copy for me. I was blown away when I heard the first ones and like you've said it's not even real HD, just closer to what the original masters sounded like.
I bought a Pioneer 563a when those first hit the market and TRIED to find good quality disks for it, now I have a Denon 757 and a few networked media players that can play just about any format so of course I also e mailed Mark for access to the tracks and it's nice to see somebody who really cares and doesn't get caught up in all the dumb arguments over format and like that. My lil sisters hubby has a VPI table and a dedicated system just for it, it really sounds great, as long as he actually gets a record that is recorded well, otherwise I hear all the limitations of vinyl that drove me nuts back in the day.
It's too bad CD has been so compressed that most music has no dynamic range anymore and all they can think of is louder, it ruined the format, and is probably one reason many prefers records again, that and records are cool to most younger folks, and what us older guys remember fondly. I have a DAT deck I found and I put a modern recording I like in it and the levels hit 0db and never wavered till each track faded down, no wonder it sounds like crap now.
Looking forward to hearing your tracks and glad to see someone still forging ahead with true better quality sound.
post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post

Mark, you are dead on correct about vinyl. For anyone who doubts that CD is superior to vinyl in just about every way, here are a couple of resources:

Sean Olive
Director of Acoustic Research
Harman International

Scott Metcalfe
Director of Recording Arts and Science
The Peabody Institute

Listen to their podcast comparing CD to vinyl:

http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201202106

An article by an actual vinyl mastering engineer:

http://www.recordingmag.com/resources/resourceDetail/114.html

I know a lot of House DJs in Montreal who utter all sorts of platitudes and falsehoods incessantly about vinyl's superiority....sigh. It's one of those things where you can argue with them to try and stop a stupid meme, or just laugh because despite some amount of resurgence amongst DJs, the trend is ever-downward. So, obsolescence in capability will be obsolescence in the marketplace too. I say good riddance to inferior sampling and recording tech. Plus, digital is just so much more environmentally friendly, convenient, not just better sounding and noise-free.

People can love their vinyl all they want, just just can't and shouldn't keep getting away with saying it's superior. Especially not because of something ignorant like digital sounds stair-steppy.
Edited by RLBURNSIDE - 7/7/13 at 3:52pm
post #16 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post

I appreciate what Mark is doing, though I wonder how much the audible benefit has to do with his mic'ing and recording techniques vs. 96/24 or 192/24 mastering.

I couldn't agree more.

I have no interest in higher res formats when the vast majority of material doesn't deliver close to the potential of CD, or even DVD.

One that comes to mind because I saw it again recently is Standing ion the Shadows of Motown; the studio sessions in the extras are amazingly realistic with sound far better than the average DVD, or Bluray for that matter.

What we need much more than higher res is a way to motivate higher quality of recordings using the existing formats.
Edited by noah katz - 7/8/13 at 5:19pm
post #17 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by noah katz View Post

I couldn't agree more..

I have no interest in higher res formats when the vast majority of material doesn't deliver close to the potential of CD, or even DVD.

One that comes to mind because I saw it again recently is Standing ion the Shadows of Motown; the studio sessions in the extras are amazingly realistic with sound far better than the average DVD, or Bluray for that matter.

What we need much more than higher res is a way to motivate higher quality recordings using the existing formats.

And I couldn't agree more with your not being able to agree more smile.gif
post #18 of 49
Great video here on how the "loudness wars" progressed, and to Noah's point about how most modern material does not take advantage of the actual potential of CD (and of 44/16 PCM):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Fb3rWNWDA
post #19 of 49
Dynamic range compression, poor mastering, and lossy audio data compression (like MP3) has killed audio quality (except for those few audiophile labels still around such as AIX, etc. that have not succumbed). Thank iTunes and the music industry catering to Mr. Jobs for that.

I wonder if Mark has discussed some of this audiophile recording and delivery stuff with DTS. They have a new open-format, object-oriented MDA system and headphone surround processing they're trying to get into the market that might help. Perhaps he can also give them a few tips and ways to improve. Always good to have deep industry pockets in your camp.
Edited by Dan Hitchman - 7/11/13 at 12:29am
post #20 of 49
We can go even further back and blame Napster for beginning to kill audio quality. wink.gif It might be heretical to suggest it here, but mp3 has come a long way and can sound transparent below 320 kbps (2-channel audio that is).
post #21 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnie97 View Post

We can go even further back and blame Napster for beginning to kill audio quality. wink.gif It might be heretical to suggest it here, but mp3 has come a long way and can sound transparent below 320 kbps (2-channel audio that is).

I've never heard an MP3 at any standard bitrate that was as good as an uncompressed version. Something happens to the higher frequencies, especially. It gets somewhat icy.

Sadly, I now hear Telarc has diminished significantly at the hands of Concord Records after the death of Michael Bishop. Really a shame. They used to make some wonderful recordings, especially in the SA-CD format.

Into this abysmal time for high end audio and video, just as portability and convenience has taken precedence over quality and brick 'n' mortar stores are dying out (good places to demo A/V gear), marches UHD and new audiophile formats... it will take a paradigm shift in the way the industry markets and pushes for higher standards or all these new formats will flop.

People like Mr. Waldrep and Joe Kane need to really put on their A game to try and educate lay people on the benefits of true to the source audio and video and not just preach to the choir, so that we actually can get a rebirth of quality over mass quantity. I try my best whenever I talk to friends and family about this hobby.
Edited by Dan Hitchman - 7/11/13 at 12:41am
post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

I've never heard an MP3 at any standard bitrate that was as good as an uncompressed version. Something happens to the higher frequencies, especially. It gets somewhat icy.

Sadly, I now hear Telarc has diminished significantly at the hands of Concord Records after the death of Michael Bishop. Really a shame. They used to make some wonderful recordings, especially in the SA-CD format.

Into this abysmal time for high end audio and video, just as portability and convenience has taken precedence over quality and brick 'n' mortar stores are dying out (good places to demo A/V gear), marches UHD and new audiophile formats... it will take a paradigm shift in the way the industry markets and pushes for higher standards or all these new formats will flop.

People like Mr. Waldrep and Joe Kane need to really put on their A game to try and educate lay people on the benefits of true to the source audio and video and not just preach to the choir, so that we actually can get a rebirth of quality over mass quantity. I try my best whenever I talk to friends and family about this hobby.

I cannot quite figure this out—when exactly did this golden era exist, where every home had an audiophile-grade Hi-Fi system? If I were to point my finger at a format that destroyed fidelity in the name of convenience, I point a finger at the Cassette tape. The truth is digital formats are far superior to cassette tapes, as well as just about any LP record that is played back on a "normal" turntable. Audiophile pressings and $500,000 stereo systems are not a reasonable argument for vinyl's superiority, even vs. a well-mastered MP3.

The public is well aware of the concept that a CD sounds better than a highly compressed MP3, and despite digital formats outselling CD 2:1 in many cases, CDs continue to be available to "lay people" at stores where they shop, as well as through online retailers.
post #23 of 49
However, many pop recordings are pre-dynamically compressed and mastered to within an inch of their life before they ever reach MP3 or uncompressed CD, SA-CD, or Blu-ray formats. This is what I mean. The more current mixing and mastering quality practices have become abysmal... even when you hear a "regular" older recording of a classic song and then hear the modern "remastered" version. They've killed the dynamics, pumped the volume, and the over emphasized the treble and bass.

The lay person has been conditioned on convenience over quality. I say you can have both, but it will take a shift away from the "fix it in the mix" or "fix it for the car or iPod ear buds" mentality.

There was an SA-CD called Live Recordings from Red Rose Music by Mark Levinson (of the audio electronics company that also bore his name). It was only stereo, but my God it was like the performers were right there in the room and it almost fooled you into thinking it was in multi-channel surround. AIX Records is the closest thing I've come to in showcasing how music should be recorded since.

The Blu-ray called PBS's Legends of Jazz: Showcase was nothing to sneeze at either. Hard to find now, but worth getting.
post #24 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

I've never heard an MP3 at any standard bitrate that was as good as an uncompressed version. Something happens to the higher frequencies, especially. It gets somewhat icy.
But if you merely did this by way of an A/B test (and not a double blind test, where you were unaware of which source you were sampling), it is hard for the skeptic in me to put much weight in your findings.
post #25 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnie97 View Post

But if you merely did this by way of an A/B test (and not a double blind test, where you were unaware of which source you were sampling), it is hard for the skeptic in me to put much weight in your findings.

I've listened to my share of MP3's, CD's, SA-CD's, DVD-Audio, and Blu-ray's. Well mastered, uncompressed, high resolution tracks always have sounded superior to an MP3 of the same music.
post #26 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

I've listened to my share of MP3's, CD's, SA-CD's, DVD-Audio, and Blu-ray's. Well mastered, uncompressed, high resolution tracks always have sounded superior to an MP3 of the same music.

Do you really buy MP3s of all the music you have on disc, just to compare?
post #27 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

I've listened to my share of MP3's, CD's, SA-CD's, DVD-Audio, and Blu-ray's. Well mastered, uncompressed, high resolution tracks always have sounded superior to an MP3 of the same music.

Do you really buy MP3s of all the music you have on disc, just to compare?
post #28 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Hitchman View Post

I've listened to my share of MP3's, CD's, SA-CD's, DVD-Audio, and Blu-ray's. Well mastered, uncompressed, high resolution tracks always have sounded superior to an MP3 of the same music.
All I'm suggesting is confirmation bias can play a role as can placebo when doing these types of comparisons, especially when you know the identity of each one. Double blind testing removes these variables from the equation and oftentimes produces some revealing results to the tester. It should be noted that I'm only referring to 2-channel CD audio in comparison to a high-bitrate mp3 (320 kbps).
post #29 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Do you really buy MP3s of all the music you have on disc, just to compare?

Who said anything about "buy?" biggrin.gif

You do start to hear a pattern after a while and then stop wasting time and just try to go for the best source possible. Lossy audio is not the best source.
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Vinyl is far from the highest quality format. Like Mark said about ten minutes into the video, the pinnacle of audio recording and reproduction was not achieved at some point in 1971, never to improve. Limited frequency response and dynamic range are but two of the problems with LPs, then there is the need for incredibly expensive gear—just to get sound that rivals CD quality. Daft Punk released a vinyl version precisely because the format is popular among a certain Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinking demographic, plus DJs who play clubs and use vinyl still exist.

In the end, Daft Punk sold 19,000 copies on vinyl and 221,000 downloadable albums in the first week of release. The grand total for week-one sales was 339,000, which means roughly 99,000 CDs were sold. Considering that the vinyl version was sold by Urban Outfitters, I'm actually not surprised they hit that number, but it is still very small compared to the other two formats. About the only thing you can say is that today's LPs sound as good as the format ever has, thanks to digital masters—masters that can be listened to in the original format.
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