AIX Records Audio Calibration Disc + HD Music Sampler, Blu-ray (2009)

by | Sep 22, 2009 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

AIX Records Audio Calibration Disc + HD Music Sampler, Blu-ray (2009)

Video: 16:9 color 1080i HD
Audio: English Dolby True HD, DTS-HD Master Audio
System Calibration: Introduction, System Setup Tutorial, Channel ID Tests, Speaker Balance Tests, Speaker Phase Tests, Frequency Sweep Tests, Subwoofer Sweep Test, Subwoofer Crossover Test
Music selections from the Aix catalog:
John Gorka: Mercy of the Wheels; Lisbeth Scott: Let Me; Carl Verheyen: Henry’s Farm; AIX All Stars; Pachelbel Acoustica; Destani Wolf: Primavera; Albert Lee: Luxury Liner; Palisades Chamber Music: Shostakovich Piano Quintet Op. 57 – Prelude

Rating (Calibration section): ****1/2;  Rating (Music Sampler): ** to *****, depending on taste

Aix Records has been a stalwart supporter of the DVD-Audio format almost from its start, as well as for new perfectionist hi-res surround recordings of solo and small group artists – rather than reissues of past recordings in audiophile versions. They soon began offering videos of the recording sessions along with the stereo and multichannel audio.  At first these were just 4:3 standard videos without camera movement, but they morphed into double-screen and widescreen visual productions. Unfortunately, the soundtracks for the videos could never be anything better than DTS or Dolby 5.1, even though Aix used the finest equipment and even offered two different mix versions – “Stage” or Audience.”

Now for the first time, with Blu-ray it is possible to offer just as high quality as the best multichannel DVD-Audio – 96K and 24-bit on all channels, and even to offer 7.1 channels as well as 5.1. Aix will be producing other Blu-ray titles this fall, now in both HD video with HD audio and multiple 7.1 mixes for “Stage” and “Audience” perspectives.

There are a number of calibration discs on SACD and DVD-A, but this one from Aix is one of the very first for use on Blu-ray players. The introduction, though promotive of Aix, is well done.  I found the tests proper phase between the various speakers of a multichannel setup, as well as the subwoofer tests, to be easier to use than any other test discs I have sampled. The latter aided me in discovering a slight dip in the deep bass response to my sub, which I corrected with a resetting of the crossover points on both my sub and my Sunfire preamp.      My reason for the 1/2 instead of a complete star on the rating is due to there being only a channel ID test for 7.1 channel DTS-HD and none for 5.1 – the prevailing codec for most Blu-ray movie discs.  My system is 7.1 but I use the other two channels differently – for either high front speakers in 2+2+2 playback or high side speakers. (I happen to think standard 7.1, with two more surround speakers centered in the rear, is a dumb idea.) Since the Aix test is set up only for 7.1, it should mute entirely on 5.1 systems, but due to a programming error it just greatly attenuates the signals to almost inaudibility.

Aix has released some fine classical and jazz performances in the past, but for this sampler they only chose a single classical selection – the final one of the seven. Therefore I don’t find the other selections especially to my taste, being of folk, acoustic, Latin and country genres – although via the high quality one is made to feel part of the recording sessions.  They are fine examples of the state-of-the-art screen images and hi-res surround sound that is now possible with Blu-ray, and would surely appeal to anyone more conducive to those genres.

– John Sunier

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