A hi-rez perspective from Hong Kong/Guangzhou, China

Discussion in 'Music' started by Danny Tse, Jun 2, 2004.

  1. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Just arrived back in HK after 5 days in Guangzhou, China....

    I visited 3 music stores in TeeMall in Guangzhou, and each of them carried a small selection of SACDs. Can't locate any DVD-A's. However, no Pink Floyd, Stones, Dylan, or any of the Western pop artists we normally talked about here at this forum. Except for a number of local HK pop SACD titles, all of the SACDs I've seen are Western classical titles....from DG, Channel Classics, and Naxos. No Telarc, Sony, or EMI titles. Prices are roughly RMB 200.00, approximately US$24.00/each disc. I did see a Marantz SACD player in a glass case....non-working model. No multi-channel demos for music....just heavy-handed demos of DVDs.

    Here in HK, the selection of SACDs are much MUCH wider....hybrid Police titles, Simple Minds studio albums on hybrids, Stones, Dylan, etc....about the same price as in the US. Yes, Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" has been released as a hybrid by Sony....HK$135.00, about US$17.00. Same goes for Beyonce's "Dangerously In Love" hybrid SACD. The surprising thing is the extend of SACD titles released locally here by the "Big 5", with the exception of HK Sony. Very little selection for DVD-A's....all I noticed was Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" and an Iron Maiden title.

    I will scope out more titles in the next several days. More later. I am at a cyber-cafe, where it's filled with LOUD explosions and mayhem from online gaming.
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Danny,

    Thanks for the update. It appears Asia is doing very well with Super Audio releases. I found the same thing in Tokyo and Kyoto but more pop and rock was available.

    Do you see Warner titles in SACD as well, since they are part of the Big Five?

    I also understand BMG has some out...
     
  3. Iver

    Iver Second Unit

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    Did you happen to see any retail outlet selling bootlegs? I have heard that unauthorized copies represent a big segment of the market for CD's and DVD's in the PRC, not surprising considering how tight things there are economically for most people.

    Heck, you even see one or two bootlegs from time to time right here on the streets of New York City.

    It doesn't sound like the hi-rez format is gaining much popularity, or even availability, in mainland China.

    How about hi-rez bootlegs in Guangzhou? Is the format thus far proving bulletproof to bootleg apptempts?
     
  4. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Interesting since there are a bunch of Asia only Sony SACDs (I believe some are even hybrids).
     
  5. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    [​IMG] unless your definition of Asia excludes Singapore, I'm not sure I'd agree with your statement. One "good" CD shop carries a reasonably good selection of SACDs, although the nearest outlet (in the middle of the CBD) only had 3 copies of Diana Krall's new album and they sold out, so they're "transferring" their last copy nationwide from another branch to this one for me; HMV has a smattering but they're incredibly pricey, another "good" CD shop also has a limited selection and..... that's about it. "Ordinary" CD shops, and there are many of them, don't generally carry SACD (or DVD-A for that matter).

    As for bootlegs in the PRC, let's not go there... or for that matter bootlegs in Malaysia...
     
  6. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    So if I understand correctly: In larger Chinese cities you have a reasonably large selection of "western" material for your listening entertainment,but in America, the only "Asian" material we will find in a record store is a compilation-type album at best of assorted musicians of foriegn nature?

    Damn, sucks to be us. [​IMG]
     
  7. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    An update from Hong Kong's Time Square, where I am within the line of sight to JBL's factory showroom.

    Just by browsing at Guangzhou, China's more legit music stores, no pirated CDs of SACD titles available. However, almost all SACD titles are also available as CDs, so yes, pirated copies of the legit CDs are available. As for percentage, it's a huge percentage. Several months ago, there an article on the internet stating that the percentage of pirated CDs in China (excluding HK) compared to legit CDs is over 90%....and I would agree with that number.

    "Western" music here in mainland China depends on local taste....you will be hard-pressed to find anything from Van Halen, legit or pirated. In HK, it's a whole different story....all sorts of music available and each type has their own fans.

    HK Sony has not released anything on SACD, single-layer or hybrid, since April 2003. Sony Japan has released SACDs on a regular schedule. I will get the hybrid of Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" and see what happens.

    Hi-rez hasn't taken off in the mainland, but here in HK, it's just one of the many audiophile "format" competing for the audiophile's $$$. There are so many XRCD titles here, plus SACDs and vinyl. BTW, anyone want pre-recorded MDs?? I saw a huge selection of both local titles and Western titles. Yes, HK Warner is also a MD supporter.

    Yes, HK Warner SACDs are still somewhat available. The major SACD supporters seems to be HK Universal, HK EMI, and many local HK labels. HK BMG has been quiet.

    As for HK Sony's SACD titles, you can do a search at sa-cd.net....I have uploaded all known titles except two, both compilations of Japanese pop on stereo single-layer SACDs.

    Will report more once I check out more music store.

    Edit to the above post....visited JBL factory store, where every speaker is in beech. Actually also an Infinity factory store, it carries everything from home-theater-in-a-box speakers to the JBL Ti series and Infinity Prelude series speakers. It's setup for multi-channel but not high-rez. There were also other audio stores on that floor that carry Linn, NHT, Rega, Naim, KEF, Celestion, Tannoy, Denon, etc.... no to mention the Nakamichi factory store. Heavy concentration on home theater, not so much for hi-rez audio. However, there is a store call "Record Man" that carries only first edition Japanese pressing of CDs. There's US$150.00 (yes, you read that right) Japanese first pressing SACD of Celine Dion's "A Decade of Hits". In Digi-Pak and different looking than the US domestic version. It was a sealed disc, otherwise it would've been demo via giant JBL studio monitors on Sound Anchor stands.

    Linkin Park is playing HK next month.
     
  8. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Does anyone else find this funny? [​IMG]

    Yee Ming, I was commenting on what I saw in Japan with respect to SACDs in Asia and what Danny is reporting. I guess the perspective from Singapore may be different...
     
  9. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Garrett,

    Most "Western" music here in HK and PRC are often released as compilations. Unless you are a big fan of, for example The Carpenters, you will probably only know the hits only. So those hits get recycled over and over again....in Carpenters compilations or on multi-artists compilations. Yes, the individual albums are available here in HK, but most music stores carry only compilations. The concept of an album is generally a lost art. BTW, an DSD-remastered compilation of The Carpenters, which was argued over big time at Steve Hoffman's website, was released by HK Universal late last year and it's a legitimate item (Heck, it was on HK Universal's website).

    Iver,

    Bootlegs are different from pirated titles. Pirated CDs are on sale here in the open, in HK and in PRC. And their packaging are as good,if not better, than the real thing. So it takes a good eye and actual knowledge to pick apart the fake and the real thing. Hi-rez titles are generally seen as esoteric stuff....same goes for musical styles like jazz, blues, or even straight ahead rock. Bubble gum pop is the preferred musical style here.

    The speed of piracy in the PRC is shockingly fast. The movie "The Day After Tomorrow" was released worldwide on May 28, even here. But you can get a pirated copy of the movie on VCD 10 feet from the movie theater box office, out in the open.
     
  10. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    OK, another update....

    I can't seem to locate any other non-American Sony hybrid SACD other than the Beyonce and Dave Brubeck titles. I just purchased "Time Out" for HK$135.00 (approximately US$17.31) with no tax to pay. From all indications, it doesn't look like an Asian/European-only release.

    The Sarah Brightman SACD titles released by HK EMI can be had for about US$16.00/each disc. The CCR compilation from Naxos is about US$17.00. Surprisingly, most of the local SACD titles retails for about HK$150.00/each.

    As for HK Warner Bros. SACDs, after browsing through several music stores, the only title that seems to be available is Sammi Cheng's "Becoming Sammi", which has since became the last HK Warner SACD release.

    You may think this thread is becoming a SACD thread, but the fact is that there are hardly any DVD-A titles here, other than the ones I mentioned above.

    I will visit several more stores during the weekend. Hoping to hit HMV in the next two days. After that, it's back to the mainland again.

    Edit: If anyone wants something from HK, please let me know in the next 2 days. I will get them for you + shipping from California once I get back to the States next Thursday.

    What a coincident....my hotel is located across the street from the former headquarter of HK Polygram Records, now HK Universal Music, including its vault and recording studios. "Former" because it was destroyed in a giant fire several years ago, including much of its vault. It has since rebuild at another location featuring direct DSD recording capability.
     
  11. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Yet another update....

    Picked up the July issue of the local audiophile magazine "Hi Fi Review". The magazine comes in 2 separate volume, one covering hardware and the other covers software. The software volume has a photo of HK Sony's DSD Sonoma mastering console as its cover. Inside, there are reviews and ads of CD/DVD/SACD/DVD-A. Looks like HK Warner just released 10 more DSD-remastered titles on CD, with an announcement for another 8 upcoming titles. These are re-mastered at HK Sony's studio. There's an interview/discussion on HK Universal's newly released single inventory multi-channel hybrid. I see this title in ads posted in subway tunnels here, but those ads make no mention of it being a SACD. In the article, HK Universal expressed it wants to get single inventory SACD releases' prices down to regular CD prices, which is about US$10.00 here.

    Most of the ads in the magazine are for SACD, XRCD, HDCD. Just one DVD-A title was in any ads....a demo DVD-A for McIntosh amps.

    ABC Records, from mainland China, has a 2 page full-color ad showing off its hybrid SACDs. It's the first mainland Chinese music company to release SACDs. It has since been joined by a couple of other mainland music companies. ABC Records does show a link to DVD-A releases on its website though.
     
  12. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    Made one last trip on June 9th to Win Win Shop in Mong-kok, generally acknowledged as one of the best music stores in all of HK. As I walked into the tiny store, I noticed that in one of its display cases are vinyl versions of available SACD titles. And these were asking for big $$$. In the middle of the store, before you see all of the CDs that lined the walls, is the SACD section. Again, most of the titles displayed were either local HK releases or Japanese releases. However, toward the back of the store was most of the available Western SACD releases....Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony, Channel Classics (the samplers were going for US$10.00/each), Bowie, Simple Minds, Dylan, etc.... These were lined up next to the XRCDs (Dire Straits, Kitaro, etc...), which were going for more than the SACDs. For the most parts, prices were in line with those of the US. However, the mainland Chinese SACDs were going for a lot less....US$13.00 or so for a new release pressed in Japan. Can't find any DVD-A titles on display.

    BTW, those Hong Kong Warner SACDs must be getting real low in supply....the 2 titles I saw at Win Win Shop were going for HK$200.00/each!
     
  13. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    There is a join Universal/Sony/Philips seminar on SACD happening in Hong Kong as I type this. I was surfing the web last night and this is what I got so far....

    The 3 companies announced they will restructure pricing for new release SACDs. They are pushing to matching prices of SACDs to regular redbook CDs. HK Universal just released the first new release Cantonese studio album as a single-inventory multi-channel hybrid SACD and pricing it as a regular CD (title is Christopher Wong's "EverGreen" and I saw it priced for approximately US$11.00 while I was in HK).

    That's it so far. I suppose there will be more info later since the owner of sa-cd.net is attending the seminar himself.

    I wonder how Universal/Sony/Philips will manage to do the price reduction. Given the approximately 70 or so SACD titles released by Hong Kong music companies, only the 10 Universal titles announced last December are made by the local SACD manufacturing plant operated by Viva Magnetics; the rest are made in Japan, Germany, or in "EU". Hong Kong Warner SACDs are manufactured by Sony at its Terre Haute, Indiana plant.

    I hope the success of the Sarah Brightman SACDs will encourage Hong Kong EMI to release more Western titles on SACD....how about the second Norah Jones album on SACD??

    ***Don't know if this is a coincidence, but US e-tailer just took 40% off of all 10 HK Universal SACDs released last December, which will bring the prices of these SACDs close to those of regular CDs.
     

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