Mark Waldrep is like thousands of people who have moved to California: he came with dreams of stardom. For him, it wasn’t the big screen, but the rock arena. Along the way though, he discovered his musical talents were better served in another area that held his interest–audio technology.
“I realized my guitar playing skills weren’t going to help me break into the Top 40 on the music charts, but I do have a creative musical sensibility, so I thought, why not be on the other side of the glass?” said the professor of digital media arts at California State University, Dominguez Hills who is now an expert at the forefront of three dimension (3D) surround music and video.
Waldrep’s expertise in audio engineering has led to numerous appearances at conferences around the world, most recently at the 129th Audio Engineering Society (AES) Convention and the Digital Entertainment Group Blu-Con 2010 conference, which were both held in November, and delivering the keynote address at the Conferencia Latinoamericana AES: Audio 3D, in Bogotá, Columbia in October at the request of Andrés Mayo, the former vice president of AES Latin America.
“Andrés reminded me he had been to my audio studio years earlier and was aware of what I had done since then, and of my area of expertise. He crafted Audio 3D as the centerpiece of this conference with me in mind,” said Waldrep.
In addition to delivering the keynote address to the conference audience of about 250 students and industry professionals mostly from South and Central America, Waldrep also served on a panel of experts.
“As part of the panel I was on, we discussed whether an audio only Blu-ray Disc, with its better quality audio and surround sound, would be the successor to the CD [compact disc],” said Waldrep. “Blu-ray is a much larger storage format than a CD. You can get 25 gigabytes on a Blu-ray disc. I want people to understand that music can be recorded and delivered in high-resolution audio 3D.”
In August, Waldrep recorded two of the first of its kind combination 3D music-3D video discs, one featuring award-winning pop vocalist Rita Coolidge, and the other featuring award-winning country singer Mark Chestnut. The videos can be watched with 3D glasses to enhance the surround sound experience.
Waldrep produces Blu-ray audio discs for classical, orchestral, folk music, acoustic, electric, jazz, pop, and country.
“My Blu-ray discs are a little different because they have high-definition video on them as well, since I record and videotape the sessions at the same time,” said Waldrep.
According to Waldrep, high-definition surround sound offers a better audio experience than being at a concert venue because of on-site limitations.
“Instead of being in the 15th row of the audience, [surround sound] puts you in the middle of the stage with the musicians. And with video, you can see the musicians, too. The sessions are recorded in live spaces, so there’s real reverb,” said Waldrep. “My whole idea is that the presentation now becomes as if that ensemble came to your room and played for you personally, rather than you being transported to the hall. And the sound is way beyond what’s available through radio or from a CD.”
According to Waldrep, who serves as a board member of the Consumer Electronic Association home audio division, there are an estimated 75 million home theatres in the United States, and they are sufficiently equipped to utilize Blu-ray audio disc technology.
Three years ago, Waldrep founded iTrax, a web service similar to iTunes except it specializes in large high-quality, high-resolution surround sound downloadable music files.
Waldrep has served as a faculty member at UCLA, California Institute of the Arts, and CSU Northridge, and currently teaches Introduction to Audio Recording at CSU Dominguez Hills. He holds an M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D., in music, and an M.S. in computer science. He is the founder and president of AIX Records, a company dedicated to recording and releasing high quality audio products.
For more information about AIX Records, visit aixrecords.com.
For more information about iTrax, visit: www.itrax.com.
For more information about the digital media arts program at CSU Dominguez Hills, contact (310) 243-3543 or click here.