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Does SACD really have a future?


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#1 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 02:44 AM

I'm really becoming concerned with the heated rumors and such that basically say that Sony is going to drop out of SACD support in the near future to concentrate fully on the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray war.

Here are some quick links for discussion that provided further links. In these threads, we have several people crossed over into this forum as well, so hopefully we can all get down to real facts here.

http://www.avsforum.....hreadid=470925

http://www.avsforum.....hreadid=476364

And so on. We've also had a few threads around here in the past to this effect.

Basically, this crap just isn't going away.

Here's my $0.02 on this idea if it actually comes to pass.
Please note: My feelings would be exactly the same whether I'd bought a $100 universal player, a $2000 universal player, or anything in between:

What a f'ing waste this whole thing is. SACD and DVD-A should have been the new standard by now anyways. Instead, 20 years later, we're still stuck on regular CD's and taking sideways and backwards steps with MP3's and WMA's. Heh, we're still paying the same prices on CD's after 20 years, thanks to the obvious artificial price boosting they continue to enjoy.

I blame the industry itself for this. DVD-A and SACD were set up to fail. I've never seen a product like them, with so little marketing, advertising, exposure, you name it. Just ridiculous. "

I will make a pointed effort to boycott Sony outright if this goes down like this. They will never see a cent from me again and I will encourage others to do the same. This is the same kind of @#$% that Microsoft does all the time in the PC market. Unacceptable.

Here's a few things that just don't add up: If you look at it on the surface, one would bet more on DVD-A going down vs. SACD simply because of number of titles and offerings. SACD clearly has the advantage here. I could argue SACD is probably the leader in the high-rez audio area right now, simply due to output of titles vs. DVD-A.

Also, you have JVC with their $30 non-high rez XRCD format, which is a complete rip-off. Yes, they sound really nice, but $30 for a non-high rez disc is ludicrous. No way around it. The idea that these might survive but a major, if not THE major high rez format, like SACD goes down really makes me sick.

This whole thing makes me sick.

You watch: A year or two from now, Sony will announce SACD2...

#2 of 143 PaulDA

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Posted December 04 2004 - 03:30 AM

I think the death of SACD, like the death of vinyl announced decades ago, is premature. While it obviously hasn't (nor has DVD-A) gone mainstream, a whole host of other formats have had similar issues (though none of them is entirely dead--you can even buy a NEW reel to reel player/recorder at Sears Canada). Hi-res is likely destined to remain in the realm of "audiophilia"--with smaller labels like Telarc and Naxos, to name but two of many, keeping one or both formats alive. I mean, back in the analogue days of the late 70s, cassettes started outselling LPs. Why? Not because they were better. I made better home-made cassettes than store bought ones with my then high-quality tape deck. But cassettes were convenient, portable and played in cars. The mass market cares about music in the following way (IMO):

Price
Convenience
Portability
Selection
Sound quality

As I see it, hi-res has several strikes against it. Most people don't care about sound quality, so m/c mixes have to be the swaying factor. Problem with m/c is it's not portable. It's also difficult to set-up correctly, not only from a technical standpoint--bad enough for most people, but from a SAF standpoint (visions of all 5 sats sitting across the top of the TV because "my wife didn't like the wires" come to mind); thus not convenient. While price of software is not necessarily an issue (many hi-res titles are close to CD prices--leaving aside your excellent point about CD prices in general for the moment), price of decent m/c hi-res audio gear vs. perceived increase in quality of sound runs into: "I don't see what the big deal is, it was fine coming out of the TV (or stereo or whatever)", phenomenon. And of course, selection. A vicious cycle has ensued, with Universal being the only exception, it seems. Not enough mass market buyers care, so we'll focus on audiophiles who prefer jazz and classical. Because almost all we (mass market buyers) can get is jazz and classical, we're not interested (general we--not me, I have two hi-res machines). We're not interested, labels won't bother making hi-res mass appeal discs. And so on.

So, my friend, I think you must resign yourself to being among "we few, we happy, happy few" (Shakespeare's Henry V--St. Crispin's Day speech before the battle of Agincourt) who appreciate hi-res.
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#3 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 03:42 AM

Fine by me, Paul! As long as I can get it! Posted Image Thanks for the encouraging words. Posted Image

#4 of 143 Marc Colella

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Posted December 04 2004 - 05:01 AM

We've heard these rumors many times, and it may wind up being false like all the other times.

However, Sony's actions (or lack thereof) have always made me wonder what's going on.

What has Sony done for SACD in the last year?

#5 of 143 MikeH1

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Posted December 04 2004 - 05:20 AM

Has it been almost 3 years since I bought my Toshiba DVD A player? Why yes, yes it has and there is still only a handful of titles I'm interested in.

Good points Eric and Paul. Most people really don't give a rats ass about having great Hi Rez sound and the masses are indeed hooked on compressed formats. I'm not going to say its doomed but the future really just doesn't look all that promising.

As it stands, instead of all these SACD vs. DVD-A threads I'll just be happy if one format takes off.

#6 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 05:27 AM

I just love high-rez audio, as a whole, and I want to see it thrive and succeed. Very simple criteria. Posted Image

#7 of 143 Seth--L

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Posted December 04 2004 - 06:41 AM

I'm really becoming concerned with the heated rumors and such that basically say that Sony is going to drop out of SACD support in the near future to concentrate fully on the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray war.


Sony has essentially already dropped SACD. They have released very few SACDs in the last few years. However, they have showed some renewed support through developing a budget SACD/CD only player.

It's starting to look like that the non-major labels will continue to champion SACD. Hi-Rez has become another way for them to distinguish themselves from the majors -- show that they having something that the big labels don't.
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#8 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 06:56 AM

Seth, how come I feel like I see a pretty decent selection of SACD's out there? I go to highfidelityreview.com and I see new releases every week? Certainly the output of SACD's easily eclipses the number of DVD-A titles.

But, I guess, if you're saying Sony SPECIFICALLY is not releasing titles...I guess you got something there, but maybe there's hope if these other companies you refer to keep the ball rolling.

#9 of 143 Seth--L

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Posted December 04 2004 - 08:03 AM

EricRWem,

I was talking about Sony, whose output has come to a halt.

Overall, release remain mixed -- genres are too focused. With classical, while we get a new recording of a Mahler Symphony every month, there are only two recordings of Verdi opera on SACD (both of which came out this winter).
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#10 of 143 Brian Perry

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Posted December 04 2004 - 08:36 AM

Quote:
Heh, we're still paying the same prices on CD's after 20 years, thanks to the obvious artificial price boosting they continue to enjoy.

Don't prices of most things usually go up? We're lucky CDs aren't $30 each by now. Posted Image

#11 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 09:09 AM

I would have thought that age + supply and demand would have meant lower prices. Considerably so. That seems to be the constant in virtually every other area of consumable goods, especially electronics...

Easy example:

If you bought a top of the line VCR in 1985, how much do you think that thing's worth right now?

#12 of 143 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 04 2004 - 10:06 AM

Quote:
I think the death of SACD, like the death of vinyl announced decades ago, is premature.


Well put.

I think Internet rumors about the death of either hirez or vinyl are worth about what they cost: nothing.

Here's the thing to keep in mind. Formats can survive by catering to niche audiences. There are hundreds of small boutique labels that make good money selling the product and hundreds of thousands audiophiles globally buying it.

It will be around for a while unless something better and better marketed comes along.

As far as Sony goes, they have been consistent in their support on the hardware side, the pro audio side, marketing side in terms of hifi shows, and admittedly not a factor on the software side. But I think their strategy has worked in that with minimal marketing they created a grass roots effort which brought many audiophiles on board and developed thousands of available titles with great collections of jazz and classical works.

I think a more reliable set of statistics in terms of judging SACD's niche health are:
1. 80-90 titles coming out per month
2. 200+ labels regularly issuing SACD product
3. Dozens of playback machines from over 36 mfrs at all price levels.

P.S. SACD2 has remained a rumor for almost 2 years. What does that tell you?
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#13 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 10:13 AM

Always a pleasure to hear from you, Lee. Posted Image Posted Image

#14 of 143 Marc Colella

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Posted December 04 2004 - 11:09 AM

Quote:
80-90 titles coming out per month


I've heard this 80-90 titles per month figure for over a year. At that rate, that would mean close to 1,000 SACD titles per year.

Seems like the number of SACD titles available has been in the 2,000's for a long time (they're at roughly 2,600 right now from I've heard).

Is there a list of SACD releases for the last 6 months?

Also, what percentage of the SACD titles released every month is available in North America?

#15 of 143 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 04 2004 - 11:17 AM

Marc, the search engine is your friend. Posted Image I have posted on this point before and what you see is the number ramping up.

Most of the titles are available in North America which remains SACDs major market.

As for a list of SACDs for the last 6 months, a good source is sacdinfo.com. I think the title count is now at 2,671 as of 7PM tonight.

SACD is doing very well as niche market. That can ensure financial stability for some years. Think about how vinyl is flourishing and all the great turntables like the VPI Scout and Regas, etc.

I had personally hoped that a BluRay or HD-DVD would unite movie and music formats and get one big marketing push. Unfortonately that is too clever for Big Entertainment to figure out even though BluRay seems to understand the value of having the "data storage", or PC guys, on board.
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#16 of 143 Lee Scoggins

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Posted December 04 2004 - 11:19 AM

http://www.sa-cd.net/shownews/31

This story demonstrates that Sony is far from throwing in the towel.
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#17 of 143 EricRWem

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Posted December 04 2004 - 12:15 PM

Lee! You have thankfully restored my hopes here! Posted Image

#18 of 143 Matt Fisher

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Posted December 04 2004 - 01:14 PM

besides catalog availability, is there any major advantage to having one fotmat (SACD or DVD-A) prevail over the other?


also, I'm just curious but after quick research, I was unable to find any car headunits that play SACD. I know my headunit (Panasonic CQ-DVR909U) along with maybe 2 or 3 others can do DVD-A. Anyone know if any support SACD?

ok one last edit while we're on the topic, I just came across circuit city's online collection of dvd-audio and it's not bad, many priced at around $14, i know dvdplanet or a few others have more of a selection, but are there any other online retailers selling for cheaper than $14? (obviously not all titles, but many)

#19 of 143 Rachael B

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Posted December 04 2004 - 03:20 PM

Lee, I'm starting to think that Blu-Ray and HD-DVD just aren't gonna be important for many years to come for movies or music. I read that the price for the first HD-DVD player was gonna be a grand. Maybe someday one of the HD formats might be a music player but no time soon, IMO. The prices are too big a barrier for the time being, beyond all other factors, seemingly.
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#20 of 143 Brian Perry

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Posted December 05 2004 - 01:04 AM

Quote:
I would have thought that age + supply and demand would have meant lower prices. Considerably so. That seems to be the constant in virtually every other area of consumable goods, especially electronics...

Easy example:

If you bought a top of the line VCR in 1985, how much do you think that thing's worth right now?

Some things, yes (computers, VCRs, cell phones).

Most things, no (cars, food, houses, just about everything else).

And CDs fall into the latter category, because there hasn't really been much improvement in the cost of making CDs over the last 20 years (whereas other electronic devices have seen huge manufacturing efficiencies, partially by cheapening the product by using plastic instead of metal). CDs, even in their infancy, were never much more than $1 per disc to make, so there hasn't been much room to improve margins there. Furthermore, I think that if CD burning technology weren't so ubitquitous, the price of CDs would be much higher. In other words, prices haven't risen with inflation because of the competition from piracy.

As much as CD gets bashed, and while some fear the end of SACD, I think the real problem is that we will eventually not even have CD quality to enjoy. As you mentioned in the first post, MP3s are the rage and aren't going away. Plus, CDs are now often compressed to sound better in cars and boomboxes. How do we know that SACD, even if it survives, will be used to its maximum potential? As it is, many CDs are not. And now, many CDs are being copy protected with watermarks that may be audible.

Just my opinion, but I wouldn't worry about SACD -- I would worry about CD.


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