Contents of This Newsletter

AIX Records Newsletter Continues

AIX Records Has A New Website!

A Note From Mark Waldrep

intro_noteI know it's been a very long time since the last AIX Records newsletter. For the past six months or so, I have been extremely busy cranking out new Blu-ray productions (see below for more information) without the able assistance of my long time associate and former student Dominic Robelotto. As some of you may know, he was involved in a very serious traffic incident back on June 12th. I'm extremely happy to report that he's on the road to recovery and even stopped by the studio a couple of weeks ago for a brief visit. It was really great to see him. After roughly 5 months, he's returned home to his wife and dogs…and the support of a wide circle of family and friends.

You never really know how much any particular member of the team contributes to our little company until suddenly one day they aren't around. Over the decade or more that Dominic has been a part of the AIX Records team, I've come to depend on him a great deal. It was Dominic that built and wired our new studio. It was Dominic that I counted on to take over the processing of our audio and video after I'd completed a mix or video edit. It was Dominic that morphed into our authoring expert for DVDs and now Blu-ray discs after our previous employee departed. It's been a challenge to maintain and even increase our output over these past 6 months…even more so without his considerable skills.

But we simply stepped up and figured out how to do the things that Dominic had been doing for so many years. The summer was dedicated to completing the large backlog of HD-Audio/Video projects and do it without him. I'm very pleased to report that we've managed to produce two new Blu-ray titles each and every month since we completed Mozart in May. And they are terrific. The Albert Lee - Tearing It Up disc was recognized in the November issue of Stereophile with a feature article AND "Recording of the Month". To my knowledge, it's the first time that they have given that award to a Blu-ray music title and one that features surround music mixes. Thanks to Robert Baird.

intro_notePlease take time to read through this newsletter and visit our web site. I'm also making a major push to increase our social networking footprint. If you "like" AIX Records on FaceBook, you'll be entered to win 5 AIX titles. We'll randomly select a winner when we hit 500 friends!

AIX Records Newsletter Continues

AIX Records Holiday Special!

Special Offers for the Holidays

AIX Records Holiday Special AIX is very pleased to bring a special offer to loyal customers in honor of the holiday season. We've got lots of new Blu-ray productions including releases from Rita Coolidge, Mark Chesnutt and Wallace Roney. If you or one of your audiophile, music loving friends is looking for the utlimate music experience, then you'll want to check out our new titles …or some of our older titles. Until the first of the year, you can get a FREE product of equal or lessor value for every 2 discs that you purchase. That means if you buy two Blu-ray titles, you can select another one for FREE and we'll pick up the shipping for any additional FREE discs!

AIX Records Holiday SpecialFor fans of our HD-Audio AND HD-Video titles, here's a Blu-Plate Special just for you! If you purchase 5 of our blu-ray titles you can select 2 additional blu-ray products for FREE! And I'll throw in our latest Blu-ray sampler disc with has samples of 21 additional tracks! Similar to the deal above, we'll pick up the shipping. That means you can get our 7 star Blu-ray titles (including the 3D Music Albums) for about $10 off each! This deal will only last through the end of the year.

Those of you who have taken advantage of our past specials know that you have to identify the free disc(s) in the COMMENTS section of the order form. Unfortunately, I do not have the ability to create a custom eCommerce modification to handle this offer at the present time. Of course, please feel free to contact us by phone (800) - 668-4249 (U.S. Only) and we can assist you with any questions or to take an order.

Instructions and additional information on our special Holiday Day Special offer.  Check it out here.

AIX Records Newsletter Continues


Blu-ray Catalog Nears 20 Projects!

blu-ray_covers Believe me when I tell you that producing a single Blu-ray title is a meticulous and expensive process. There's video to edit and synchronize, music to mix, encode and QC, graphics to design for both the packaging and the interactive menus, authoring to complete and research / licensing to be done.

So I'm particularly pleased to announce that we have almost 20 Blu-ray titles available for purchase in a wide variety of genres. We've got platinum country artist Mark Chesnutt, Grammy winner Rita Coolidge, Jamaican jazz guitar virtuoso Ernest Ranglin and classical music as well. I recall that a prominent reviewer once said of AIX Records catalog, "I absolutely love the sound of their recordings but the selection of music and artists is limited." I can't imagine a label having a more diverse collection of musical genres and top level artists.

But you be the judge. Visit that AIX Records web site and take a listen/look for yourself. There are videos and audio samples of every title. And of course, if you have any questions or would like a suggestion or two, I'm always happy to speak with customers on the phone. You can call the toll free number to reach me (800) - 668-4249 (U.S. Only)

Blu-ray may not be the ultimate format for just music but it is an amazing way to enjoy high definition, surround music AND video of some truely great artists. And if you're equipped to handle the latest Blu-ray 3D format, AIX Records has 6 projects in that format (they are also completely compatible with 2D equipment).

You can check out our Blu-ray titles at our website. AIX Blu-ray Titles

AIX Records Newsletter Continues


Trade Shows: Recent and Upcoming

trade shows Trade shows for the audio community continue to proliferate. The question for a small equipment manufacturer or audiophile label is which shows to attend? It's difficult to be away for an extended weekend. It can cost a great deal of money and you never know what reaction you'll get when you start talking about 5.1 surround, HD-Audio while the guy across the aisle is running his disc cleaner all day (this actually happened in DC at Gary Gill's Capitol Audio Fest…and PS don't ever stay at a Crowne Plaza Hotel, I got bed bugs!).

But I've decided to accept these challenges and attend as many trade shows as I possible can. The reason? I enjoy meeting existing customers and spreading the word about our work. I figure if I can introduce a whole new group of music fans to the magic of HD-Audio and surround music, it's worth it. I usually get the opportunity to give a seminar or participate in a panel where I can let an assembled group know about HD-Audio or Headphones[xi]. This past year included exhibiting at CES, AXPONA, Capitol Audio Fest, TAVES and the RMAF. I met a lot of really enthusiastic visitors.

In the coming year, I'll be demoing our 3D Music Albums on a state-of-the-art system (with partners Dolby Labs, JVC, Oppo Digital, Bryston and DH Labs) in Chicago at the AXPONA 2013 show. If you're anywhere near the Midwest, you won't want to miss that.

AIX Records Newsletter Continues


AIX Records in the Press

aix_press It's always nice when we get a great review or mention in an online blog or publication but to actually hold a new Stereophile or Mix magazine and see a great write up in print is especially rewarding. This year has been particulary good in this regard. In late summer, Robert Baird called to ask if he could interview Albert Lee and myself for the November issue. He also let me know that Albert's Tearing It Up was being recognized by the magazine as the "Recording of the Month", quite an honor for a publication that usually avoids multichannel music and Blu-ray in favor of vinyl and stereo.

Just recently, the professional audio engineers primary source dedicated their entire issue to audio quality. It was a thrill to be "one or 8 industry experts" profiled… right along side one of my heros and multi-Grammy award winner Al Schmitt.

We've also had a very large number of tremendous 5 star reviews published by Audiophile Audition, Blu-ray Definition and The Audio Beat. The word seems to be getting out about our little label. The interview I did with my old friend Scott Wilkinson for The Home Theater Geek seemingly reached a very large audience. I received a lot of very encouraging emails from that opportunity. You can check it out at Home Theater Geek Episode 126

AIX Records Newsletter Continues

Feature Article

Mark WaldrepWhat's In A Name?

by Mark Waldrep, Ph.D.

Avoiding the Markting Hype

We experience literally hundreds perhaps thousands of brand messages everyday. They're on billboards, on commercials, on the web and even on tv monitors mounted in gas pumps. And there are dozens of them in the world of audio. We're all familiar with THX, DTS and Dolby. But there are numerous attempts at branding that fall short in a number of ways. As I was looking around on the web the other day I came across a few that seemed to reach a step or two beyond reasonable. Here's my quick list of dubious branding.

HD Tracks is a "high resolution" digital music download site. It's the biggest and most well known. But the vast majority of the tracks that they sell are not actually high resolution, at least according to my definition. Since when is an analog recording made of the Rolling Stones in the early 1960s considered worthy of 192 kHz/24-bits? If a particular track was made using HD equipment then the HD label makes sense. But anything that started on analog tape (with it very limited dynamic range and frequency response) and then was mastered to vinyl should be called something else. Maybe Original Tape Master Quality would suffice.

Cookie Morenco is a very accomplished engineer, producer and composer and heads Blue Coast Records. She and Jean Claude Reynaud created something called Extended Sound Environment (E.S.E.) for their technique of recording live musicians in a live space with a combination of close mics and a 5.1 ITU set of mics. She is a strong advocate for recording to analog tape with Dolby SR noise reduction and releasing digital mixes of those analog masters using DSD encoding. While I find the recordings to be quite nice, I'm not sure that using monophonic spot mics in combination with an array of surround mics qualifies for new branding. People have been making recordings in this fashion for decades. A large number of orchestral tracks (in stereo and surround) have used room mics augmented with individual instrumental/vocal mics. As for AIX Records recording techniques, we use room mic with stereo pairs for each instrument. We get to prepare mixes in a variety of configurations by doing this.

Another term that I've always questioned is XRCD. The Redbook specification defines in great detail the electrical, physical and data components of the venerable CD. There is no magic to getting the pits on the disc that results in a better sounding CD. If the master sounds great then the replicated CD should sound great as well. This seems to me to be a bit of audiophile snake oil.

In a related vein, what is an UltraHD 32-bit mastered CD? Sure you might have more room during the recording. mixing and mastering stages of recording but it's still all going to end up crushed into 16-bits and limited to about 20 kHz of frequency response. The same applies to K2HD Mastering. Branding pure and simple, in my opinion.

My favorite audio branding term seems to have disappeared over the past couple of years. T Bone Burnett, a celebrity producer of some really terrific music, made the headlines a couple of years ago by touting his CODE methodology for releasing music on DVDs. He records to analog tape and then used the 96 kHz/24-bit capabilities of the DVD-Video format (in stereo) to release his "revolutionary" recordings. That was already being done in 1997 when one company took advantage of the added specs of the new DVD format.

My point is not to bash anyone's quest to claim a little corner of the audio marketplace. In fact, I've done it too. My Headphones[xi] branding of the tracks on our recent Blu-rays identifies a music file that can approximate the sound of my studio in a pair of heaphones… including a full 5.1 surround system.

But it's always buyer beware. Take a listen before you buy anything. Just because it costs more (or sometimes a whole lot more) or because it has a fancy techno-babble name or acronym doesn't mean it's better. If something sounds really good, buy it regardless of the branding.

AIX Records Newsletter Continues

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

Q. Why do you include two different surround mixes on your releases? Do you have a preferred version?

A.The DVD, Blu-ray and even downloaded soundfiles can accomodate multiple versions of the same audio track. So why not take advantage of this capability and give people a choice to select what they prefer?

I'm a musician. Or at least I was a performing musician many years ago. These days I don't do a lot of playing. I might pick up the guitar a few times over the course of weekend here at the studio to relax for a bit but I don't play with others any more. I used to and honestly I miss it. And it was that special "on stage" perspective that first got me hooked on being surrounded by the different instruments. Without the requirement to be facing out to an audience, a rehearsal usually gathers the musicians in a circle. This provides better communications visually and aurally.

So if the conceptual goal of my productions is to give you the "best seat in the house" for a private performance, what could be better then sitting right on stage with the ensemble? That's what I've done in the past and it's the sound that I prefer when listening to the music that I release. Of course, not everyone is going to like the same things so I include a less aggressive mix know as the "audience" mix and even a traditional 2-channel stereo mix. The choice is up to you. However, I would encourage you to listen to an entire album from the "stage" POV. At first it may be uncomfortable but by the end of the record, you might never go back to stereo again.

HD-Audio News

Everyone reading this newsletter undoubtedly knows that AIX Records releases original HD-Audio recordings. Well, a few months ago I opened the door to some wonderful artists and some recordings that I didn't originally record and produce. I liked the projects and the people behind them enough to offer my channel and label in exchange for them allowing 5.1 surround mixes to be included with the projects. The first of these was Ali Isabella, a very young pop/country artist with some very compelling songs, was released back in June. The next one is Emin - After The Thunder. This guy is a bona fide hit in Europe and further east and is about to launch in this country. I got a hold of the multitrack masters and transformed the traditional stereo mixes found on the CD into immersive, dynamic 5.1 pop tracks. I'm on a mission to get the world to listen to music the way that we hear real life and if I'm going to accomplish that, I have to appeal to a younger generation. This is another project that might be able to open that door. Be sure to check out the Headphones[xi] version of the mixes…we've made the album's 5.1 mixes work on headphones.

Check out Emin

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The TAVES 2012 Show in Toronto invited me to come to their second annual show and give a daily presentation on the "Future of Music Entertainment", which I was quite pleased to do. My 45 minutes was dedicated to the coming age of "Personalized Music Delivery" and HD-Audio. I began by defining my terms and made the case for HD-Audio being restricted to tracks that were made using HD capable equipment AND that analog tape and vinyl are not HD capable. After that I talked about the benefits of surround music AND the innovative things that are being done to bring 5.1 immersive surround music to headphones.


AIX is unique in offering Headphones[xi] versions of our mixes on the BD-ROM section of our recent releases and through our iTunes deal. Visit the iTunes store and listen to The TAVES show was a terrific event and everyone that visited the table was impressed with our new Blu-ray titles and especially my ability to demo 5.1 through headphones.


Customer Feedback

"Dear Mr. Waldrep, Having purchased your releases by Mark Chesnutt and Albert Lee (both absolutely superb) I sought out "Nitty Gritty Surround" and my only regret is that I did not know about this release earlier! Another truly excellent piece of music which I have played many times in the past week or so. nitty_gritty These 3 Blu-ray/DVDs take absolute pride of place in my collection. I hope there will be many more Country/Folk releases from AIX Records to look forward to. Thank you for your time,"

Best regards, Bob Skelton.

"Hello Again, I recently received my order and I just wanted to congratulate you for producing such wonderful products. The audio is rich and dynamic and I feel like I am actually attending a live performance. The BD's and DVD's are spectacular. Goldberg Variations is the best blu-ray I own and I play John Gorka's 'A Gypsy Life' all the time.   nitty_gritty Technically your High Def 24/96 recordings are the best I have heard. Nothing comes close. It doesn't get any better than this!"

Regards, Dwight Angus

"Dear Mark, Many thanks for your newsletter. It's fantastic to know that you and your team are continuing to produce products which completely satisfy the HD Audio enthusiast. This can certainly not be an easy task considering the financial pressures which seem to make their presence felt in most countries around the world at this time. I ordered "Goldberg Variations Acoustica" earlier this year and am proud to mention that it is my "reference Blu-ray disc". The sound is simply perfect! There is no better way to describe my listening experiece. I must confess that I sometimes turn off the plasma and listen in the dark so that I can glean maximum audio effect without any distraction. Bliss! Absolute bliss! Congratulations on your excellent recording works! Also, best of strength and success to you and your team for next year and into the future."

Kind regards, Lucien Desmarais - Cape Town, South Africa


An Interesting Interview



High Praise From A Peer


To James Tanner of Bryston

"I would have to suggest that AIX is the best and most concerned record company and recording facility, period. They practice what others only preach and dream about. Their exemplary attention to detail, correct use of technology and correct binaural recordings are examples for everyone else to learn from. While most other companies use a multitude of close-miked mono sources, panned in a stereo field with some fake added 'reverb', AIX correctly preserves both the dimensional space and dynamic range as faithfully as the technology will allow.

For a techniclly concerned company like that to praise and enjoy your electronics is a double kudos."

Regards, Barry Ober, Senior Audio Engineer - Owner and Chief Science Officer - SounDoctor

Let us know what YOU think!


Albert Lee Stereophile

A First For Blu-ray!!

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Thinking about getting your favorite music fan or audiophile a great Christmas gift? Remember AIX Records Gift Certificates are available at any level. Get the gift of HD Music or let that special someone know what you want.

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