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Mark Waldrep’s Book ‘Music and Audio’ Is An 850-Page Guide To Better Sound

by September 23, 2018
Music & Audio Book

Music & Audio Book

In 2015, recording and mastering engineer Mark Waldrep started a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of an ambitious book called Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound. Dr. Waldrep described the project as a “no nonsense book on music and audio… (providing) everything you need to know to improve the fidelity of your music system.” Packaged with a Blu-ray disc containing demonstration material, test tones, and other content useful to the audio enthusiast, the book was slated for release in 2016. Waldrep raised nearly $70,000 from backers, and the project was underway. But the scope of the project grew, and what was expected to be 400-500 pages ended up being over 850. The final product only began shipping earlier this year. Despite the lengthy delay, readers seem to agree that it was worth the wait.

With over 35 years of experience in the music industry, the author is in a unique position to write with authority on the wide range of topics covered in his book, from recording and mastering techniques to audio formats and playback gear. Dr. Waldrep founded the audiophile record label AIX Records in 1994. Now specializing in high-resolution multi-channel audio recordings, AIX Records has produced audio and video projects for everyone from The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers to The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Waldrep owns a state-of-the-art, multi-room recording and post-production facility, and operates the hi-res music download site iTrax. (I’ve had the pleasure of hearing some of his recordings at various audio shows, and they definitely deliver the sonic goods.) Dr. Waldrep, who received his PhD in Music Composition from UCLA, currently teaches at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Los Angeles County, where he is the head of the Audio Recording Program. In April of 2013, Waldrep began a regular blog at RealHD-Audio.com, where he has written over 1,000 articles, including interviews, equipment reviews, audio show reports, technical commentary, and more. Ultimately, Waldrep decided that many of the existing reference guides about audio were “about the wrong things… often very esoteric and expensive tweaks instead of the fundamentals of great sound.” And so, he set out to write a definitive work that would “educate, clarify, and demonstrate how you can enhance your listening experiencesimply and without spending a whole lot of money. The focus is on getting accurate information and achieving dramatic improvements in fidelity.”

The book contains technical material, but Waldrep has kept the tone more conversational than instructional, and avoids what he calls “tech talk and techno jargon.” Describing his own writing style, Waldrep offers this: “Imagine you and I sharing a few long afternoon sessions talking about the basic concepts of music production, recording and reproduction formats, and discussing simple, inexpensive things you can do to improve your system.” Waldrep is not shy about supplementing the facts with his own opinions. For example, he explains that he’s no fan of MQA, and believes that certain expensive audio products are a waste of money. There are chapters on consumer audio gear, room acoustics, and acoustic treatments. Other chapters cover the recording side of things, including information about microphones and other studio gear. The included Blu-ray disc contains thirteen high-res tracks from AIX Records, presented both in stereo and in 5.1 surround. The disc allows the listener to hear some recordings in multiple formats, allowing for easy A/B/C comparisons between MP3, CD-quality, and high-res files, and between different levels of dynamic range compression employed during mastering.

The final chapter comprises twelve interviews with other music industry experts, including DSD pioneer Andreas Koch of Playback Designs, the Grammy-winning Fleetwood Mac engineer Ken Caillat, and — somewhat surprisingly — Bob Stuart of Meridian and MQA. These interviews cover an exhaustive range of subjects, and it’s refreshing to see that the author has such respect for the experience and opinions of his colleagues, even when they don’t always agree. The book and Blu-ray are currently available as a package selling for $79.95 at MusicandAudioGuide. Other pricing options are available if you prefer a downloadable e-book and/or downloadable audio files. Are you ready to dive into 850 pages about everything audio?

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About the author:
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Jacob is a music-lover and audiophile who enjoys convincing his friends to buy audio gear that they can't afford. He's also a freelance writer and editor based in Los Angeles.

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