AIX Records–German Physiks and More

When I entered, music was already in progress in the huge darkened Madison ballroom in which AIX Records' 96/24 Blu-rays, which utilize Dolby TrueHD in both stereo and 5.1 mode, were sounding very warm and inviting. Even though German Physiks' Robert Kelly told me afterwards that his imposing German Physiks Emperor Mk.II omnidirectional loudspeakers ($400,000/pair) and Borderland speakers (center, left and right surrounds) suffered serious damage at the hands of FedEx, and although I was told the Bryston's SP-3 preamplifier/DAC ($8000) refused to transmit the bottom octave of sound [see Mark Waldrep's comment below—Ed.], the system allowed the essence of the music to come through loud and clear.

"We're headed into a new era where you can have music delivered your own way," AIX's Mark Waldrep told the assembled throng. He also claimed to have the largest collection of native hi-resolution music on the planet.

Also central to the system were an Oppo BDP-83 ($500), DH Labs cables (approx. $10,000 total), and excellent-sounding AVM 8.2 monoblocks (price unavailable), a JVC RS 67 4K upsampling 3D projector ($13,000), and Stewart Filmscreen 120" screen ($4000).

mcondo49's picture

Impressive demo, still trying to figure out who sang  "So Sad" 

Anon2's picture

AIX records, again, had one of the most impressive displays of product.  The views of Mr. Waldrep again educated and elucidated the points of the debate on the past, present, and future of recorded media for music playback.

He has his point of view--and you'll hear a lot of them at a show like Axpona--but he is passionate about recorded music, and has an arsenal of facts to support his view of the future. 

I believe in Mr. Waldrep's basic premise and vision of the future.  The evolution of his view will be a slow process. 

For many people, myself included, adherence to traditional media, like commercial CDs and vinyl, comes from a dilemna more than nostalgia.  As a classical fan, I listen to the 1959 Bruno Walter, CBS, Bruckner 9th Symphony (recorded in the Hollywood, CA American Legion Hall) because it is still one of the definitive interpretations of the work, rather than out of an allegiance to the original media in which it was recorded.

Similarly, if an old analog recording, like the 1964 Tchaikovsky Ballet Suites, with the Vienna Philharmonic and Herbert von Karajan, gets transferred to a better sounding Pure Audio Blu-Ray, again I'll buy it because it is a superior rendering of a work whose interpretation is unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.

Looking forward, however, and understanding that many media will continue as they all have followers, agreeing on the best format is a crucial debate.  The alphabet soup of formats on the download sites, in addition to all of the apparatus involved, have deterred me from getting into the hi-resolution download game.  Here, Mr. Waldrep's efforts are important and make positive contributions to the discourse.

I have bought recent classical CDs from large and small labels.  Many recordings on CD, including SACDs from smaller labels, have never been better.  Other recent recordings, sadly, leave much to be desired, given the technologies (like AIX's) that could and should be embraced by the larger labels to a greater extent than they are.

It is a sad fact that we could not capture artists of previous ages on technologies like those offered by AIX.  I hope that many great artists of today can have their legacy captured on the best technologies available. This is particularly true for those artists  whose works are critical to capture optimally for reasons of posterity (someone like Maurizio Pollini comes to mind).  Then, as Mr. Waldrep reiterates, give the listener the format of choice of how to listen to these works.

Finally, I compliment Mr. Waldrep on presenting his music at a realistic and sane volume level.  Far too many Axpona exhibits are in a volume arms race.  I curtailed visits to, or avoided completely, the rooms where excessive volume, possibly at ear-damaging levels, degraded the experience. 

I suspect that rooms like AIX's have a keen sense of the actual sound levels that come from a live performance, and strive to reproduce this sound level.  This responsible use of equipment for the listening public might be the greatest virtue and contribution to the show that AIX's room made, despite the enormous audio firepower on display in their room.

Dr. AIX's picture

As I didn't discuss the system in the Madison Room with Jason other than to provide him with a list of the great and the prices, I wanted readers of this post to know that there were no problems with the Bryston SP-3, which I regard as the finest multichannel DAC on the planet.

It's true that we had some errant settings in the Oppo ("secondary audio output" was turned on initially) that kept the SP-3 from seeing a TrueHD bitstream but with Bryston's support we worked through that issue.

We didn't use any of the bass management in the SP-3...all of the speakers were selected to "Large" thus negating any LFC (low frequency cutoff). The lower octave was fully present in the output of the Bryston contrary to what was reported in this piece.

My recordings sounded exquisite in this system and certainly weren't lacking in the lowest octave...I think visitors to the room can attest to that.


BB's picture

I was at AXPONA in April, but I just saw this article and the comments. This demo was one of the first that I attended upon arriving. After a build-up by Waldrep, the music began. I'm sorry to say that the sound was pretty bad: diffuse, bloated and tizzy, with poor definition and placement. I moved around toward the center to see if my right rear position was causing the poor sound. No, very much the same wherever I stood. I decided that because it was early in the show there might be kinks to work out. I'd come back later and give this demo the benefit of the doubt. The next day I brought a friend back with me, hoping to hear great things from this megabuck system. But - pretty much the same sound. A trumpet had that mid-fi electronic glaze and a singer took on sibilance and etch. AIX might make fine recordings and the big German speakers might be wonderful, but you'd never know it from this experience. My friend was visibly shaking his head as we exited.