2003: The Year of Super Audio?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lee Scoggins, Dec 30, 2002.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    David Robinson, editor of Positive Feedback, has some positive views on Super Audio. He discusses some key points why he feels SACD is taking hold:
    Read it all at:
    http://www.positive-feedback.com/Iss...herend2003.htm
    ____________________________________________
    It can be hard to know the difference between optimism and wishful thinking. Nevertheless, I think that we’ll see SACD reach critical mass in 2003. My reasons?
    The number of labels issuing SACDs has reached the point of “difficult to keep track of!” (For a pretty decent list of labels currently committed to the SACD format, consult www.highfidelityreview.com/reviews/sacd.asp; the right hand column shows the current High Fidelity Review tabulation.) There are several dozen labels turning out SA’s in a number of genres: classical, jazz, rock, country, folk, traditional ethnomusical…we’re in the midst of a growing flood of well over 1,000 titles now. Much more is in the pipeline, especially since the Universal Music Group is starting to heat things up with their releases.
    Sony is planning to announce new labels and titles at CES 2003; we’ll be documenting what’s brewing there by Issue 5.
    Pressing capacity for hybrid SACDs will not be an issue in 2003 the way that it was in 2001-2002. The new Crest pressing plant is online in Hollywood now, and according to my sources, Sony plans to get a hybrid plant up in Terre Haute in 2003. According to the folks at Philips, a new company, Viva SACD Ltd., a spin-off of the major Asian firm Viva Magnetics, is looking to deploy hybrid lines in Hong Kongand Toronto beginning in January of 2003. When fully up, the Viva lines alone are projected to have a capacity of 10 million hybrid SACDs per month, adding significantly to the global capacity. Sonopress will, of course, continue to press hybrids in Europe. Removing this bottleneck will help SACD adoption significantly in 2003.
    Most all of the greatest mastering engineers that I can think of in the USA have either long since had, have now added DSD capabilities to their studios, or do work with the format. This includes people like Doug Sax, Bernie Grundman, Stan Ricker, Steve Hoffman, Bob Ludwig, Tom Jung, Paul Stubblebine ... quite the stellar group!
    The digital toolset for DSD is now up to snuff, with all major capabilities now available. Third party consoles and tools are now online, as well. (I hope to nudge PF Online’s resident DSD maven, Mike Pappas, to educate us on what’s current in DSD studio technology and microphony sometime in 2003.)
    Linn will be demonstrating its new “universal player,” the UniDisk 1.1 at CES 2003. As one of the largest fine audio companies in existence, Linn’s willingness to essay an SACD-capable player is evidence of further maturity of the format in the marketplace.
    Companies like Linn, working in conjunction with Sony and Philips, have now developed transports for OEM distribution, so that alternatives to the Sony and Philips transports now exist.
    Third-party SACD modification companies like ModWright, Audiomod, EVS, and Vacuum State Electronics have been busily involved in modifying and improving the sound of SACD to some pretty spectacular new levels. As those who have been following my series on modifications to the Sony SCD-1 know, there’s a lot of gold in them thar hills! For those willing to void a warranty, the sonic returns can be quite spectacular. The presence of a growing community of modding companies for SACD players is a good sign of the interest (and passion!) that the format has drawn.
    Heck, there are even SACD kits now, through companies like DAISy (cf., www.daisy-laser.com/sacd.htm for one example). DIY’ers can start heating up their soldering irons! (Any PFO readers aware of other SACD kit building companies are invited to pass this information along to us via email: [email protected] We’ll publish worthwhile links pro bono publico.)
    I am aware of—though am not yet at liberty to publish—at least one or two well known fine audio firms (in addition to Linn) that plan to unveil SACD players at CES 2003. Now that SACD is beginning to enter its fifth year, the technology is maturing, and we should see more fine audio companies entering the marketplace. They will take their place alongside other SACD producers like Sony, Philips, Marantz, Accuphase, Linn, Musical Fidelity, Classé, dCS, Luxman, Lindemann, Teac, Sharp, Xindak, Onkyo, Pioneer Elite, Yamaha and Denon. As far as establishing SACD as the new audio standard goes, the more, the merrier...
    Of major interest is the fact that Ed Meitner, the “Dr. of DSD,” is now into “Gen. 4” of his exceptional DSD chipset, the finest in existence, as far as I’ve heard. Expect to be able to purchase a consumer version of his marvelous DSD DAC’s in 2003, as well. According to Meitner, there will be a Meitner Transport and Meitner DAC-6 (consumer version 2/6 channel SACD D/A) out by March of 2003. The availability of the Meitner DSD chipset and a matching transport in a consumer (as opposed to Pro) format from EMM Labs is an incredible development for audiophiles! Meitner says that the system will not only do 2 and 6 channel SACD, but will also automatically upsample and convert standard Red Book PCM from CD’s to DSD, then decode them. PFO will be reviewing the results of Meitner’s work during the first quarter of 2003 (see below)—meanwhile, audiophiles interested in SACD may want to start saving their shekels now!
    ___________________________________________
    [​IMG]
     
  2. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    We can only hope as audiophiles that SACD does take off in some degree.
    Since I have a player, it needs to be fed![​IMG]
    The Rolling Stones was a very good start in 2002.
    Lets hope 2003 brings another big act (Bruce/Floyd/U2?) into the fold.
     
  3. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Lee, thanks for the info. More SACD would be great. I should have my XA-777ES back from Modwright in about 2 weeks and can't wait to play all my titles again.
     
  4. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    December 30, 2001: The question bounding about here and on Audio Asylum was:
    2002: The Year of Super Audio?
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    2003 will be very similar to 2002.
    More titles will be released on SACD. I'm guessing approx. 150-200 more titles.
    Regardless, the general public will still have no idea what SACD is, and those that do - just won't care.
    I predict that in 2003 or early 2004 Sony will give up trying to push SACD to the mass market, and will target it only to the niche audiophile market.
     
  7. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  8. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Lee - will definitely post comments when I get it back and break it in. Dan Wright indicated he should finish it up before he leaves for CES and it will take a week to get it back from the West Coast to the East. I have heard good things as well and I can't wait to hear. I've already made a power cord for the outboard supply and am living with the Pioneer Elite DV-47A (which is just so-so on SACD anyway) until it comes back.
     
  9. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee said this in response to yet another statement about the disinterest of the general public for SACD (this time from Marc Collella):

     
  10. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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  11. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Unlike past flops (e.g. 'L' Cassette, minidisc) I don't think either format will live or die by car head units. I'm one that has pointed to the noise floor. For use in my cars, I have a Pioneer Elite CD Recorder that is quite good on making CDs for the car from analog sources. Blank CD Media and the price or CD Recorders (and DVD recorders as well) has come way down. Available software is the key to success and I do believe that hybrids will be the key so long as they roll out lots of music titles popular with the general public at prices that are not vastly different from current CD prices. I have a vehicle with a DVD-V player and will buy a couple more DADs and might on some occasion try a DVD-A on it (although if one wants to store the items in the cases they don't make it easy with variations from normal CD to DVD-A to DVD-V cases on some stuff). CD players on fairly standard on cars vs. DVD and discs that can be played there such as hybrids will be a big boost.

    If these hybrid discs roll into stores fast with popular titles at reasonable prices they will be bought by the public and since I don't expect DVD players in cars to even reach the ratio of 1:3 (or something like that) that is in the home right now I expect that it will be one more nail in the coffin of DVD-A. Unless they roll-out titles, they are destined to be the prime format of choice for independents and musicians who need to be able to market themselves at reasonable costs. DVD-A also needs quality studio and home equipment developed in the 192/24 format if it is to become popular with audiophiles. Most non-audiophiles would likely opt for a DVD-V of the same artist vs. a DVD-A. 2003 will be a key yr. for either format to see which direction they are heading and whether they will be a niche market, or more, or less.
     
  12. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Marc, I very definitely think Sony has been spinning their wheels. The way I see it SACD CANNOT gain it's market potential till hybrid discs are mixed amongst the general population of places like Busted Buy and Tower. Passive advertising, sorta...? This bit of hidden secret kiosks keeps the titles out'a sight and out'a their prying hands and eyes. You definitely don't buy what you don't examine. The front sticker that sez this disc is SACD/CD compatiable consitutes passive advertising to me. This could drive player sales too, reminding folks to upgrade their player...? Maybe? Single-layer discs gotta go! Hybrids would make the format attractive to anyone and everyone. Even if you didn't have the new player yet, you could stille buy the discs. SACD can become the successor to CD by attrition. It might take 10 years? ...so what...All those CD players will croak eventually.
    Single-layer is a marketing sin of biblical proportions![​IMG]
    Lee, this is encouraging news! Thanks for posting it! [​IMG] It's just that with So-ny (pronounced: Soo-Knee) in charge you're always nervous or skeptical as Marc. I'm tempted to be that skeptical Marc!!!!!
     
  13. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  14. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    As much as Sony has defied logic by releasing single-layer discs, I don't think that would've made a difference in the success of SACD so far.
    Certainly SACD and DVD-A are good formats, offering better sound than CD. I have a SACD player, so I can appreciate what it has to offer.
    The biggest hurdle for SACD and DVD-A is consumer interest.
    Here are some hurdles that hi-rez formats have to face:
    - Most people think that CD sound is perfect. Sony even advertised it as "Perfect sound, forever". Most people couldn't even tell the difference in sound quality on their low budget systems.
    - The music industry is in big trouble right now, with the sale of CDs rapidly dropping. You can blame piracy or the lack of quality music... in any case, this problem isn't going away anytime soon.
    - DVD-Video is the format of choice for consumers. DVD is a leaps-and-bounds upgrade over VHS. With the price of DVDs rivaling CDs and offering much more entertainment value (ie. extras), it's not hard to understand why it's the fastest growing consumer format.
    - MP3 is the 2nd most popular music format in the world right now. It's no coincidence that there are more DVD Players that offer MP3 support than SACD and DVD-A. One major selling point for MP3 is that it's extremely portable. Portable MP3 devices are selling extremely well and allows people to carry more music with them, with easy access to songs while giving them much longer battery life.
    - Current mainstream music doesn't lend itself to better sounding formats. Much of the music created in the studios today are so processed, layered with many tracks and are compressed sounding. Even with DSD in place inside the studio, that won't change how the music is created. Garbage-in, garbage-out.
    These are just a few things that lead me to believe that SACD and DVD-A will be nothing more than a niche market (which really isn't a bad thing).
    Sorry for the long ramble... being a fast typist is a curse as well as a blessing. [​IMG]
     
  15. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Let's face it, whether it's surround or hi-rez music, MOST of the mass-market won't really care. The dvd-audio/sacd people ought to market their formats to them like Olive Garden or Outback Steak House does with their products: a premium--but still affordable--luxury that is worth the extra few bucks over Mickey Dee's or Taco Bell.
    Let yourself be surrounded by a gently pulsing cloud of music, oblivious to life's stresses......and all for only a few dollars more than a CD! And for two channel devotees, the clarity and sharpness provided by our new format will make your old favorites and new discoveries come alive, blurring the line between recording & reality....all for barely more than an old-fashioned CD!
    Kinda like Mercury is to a Ford....Buick to a Chevy......an all-beef weiner dog to the pork-&-God-knows-what-else version....a flat-screen TV to its curved-screen brother.......know what I mean?
    We can't convert everyone to an audiophile, but many still understand the concept of "better" and will pay for it. Thinking a guy with a mortagage, a monthly payment on his '99 LeSabre, and checking prices on new carpet for his 20 year old/2500sq.ft house is going to run out and buy five new B&W Nautilus bookshelfers and matching subwoofer is dumb. But he might seriously think about that Infinity 5.1 system he saw at Circuit City. And his wife can still afford to buy that new dishwasher she's been needing for so long.
    Moderation: an almost forgotten concept in audio!
    LJ
     
  16. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  17. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Lee, I don't think noise levels alone are the reason there are no car SACD players, however, even in the best luxury cars the noise floors are roughly the equivalent of what can get with a cassette deck with Dolby C. With a good home CD recorder that has good A/D converters (e.g. Pioneer Elite, Tascam, Marantz Reference vs. the lower end ones) one can capture some of the benefits of the SACD. I would not expect to see low-end SACD car head units in the near future. Someone might make one in a better unit initially but I don't see it flying off the shelf. While much quieter than cars of the past, the interior of a moving car would not be a good refernce demo of what hi-resolution formats are capable of. Hybrid SACDs (at good price points) vs. the much smaller number of DVD-V head units (which is still likely much lower than the number of car tape players) will give SACD an advantage that DVD-A won't be able to overcome for use in the car.
     
  18. Michael St. Clair

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    The car will not be a factor in the hi-res format war. The growth in the car market is quantity of music, not quality of music. MP3-capable head units (CDR, hard drive, DVD-R, etc) and satellite radio will drive the next decade of car audio, and the trend is quite apparent already. Hi-res will be a much smaller niche in the car market than it will be in the home market - if it gets marketed for cars at all.

     
  19. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  20. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Bottom of the line car CD players are under $100 and a DVD player (without screen) can be had at about $200. Sony's high-priced grear right now is a CD/MP3 machine that has a hard drive that pulls out where one can record lots of music and then put it back in the car. Hybrid SACDs can of course be used to burn onto such a hard drive. I also do not expect a rash of hi-rez car players on the market.
     

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