Am I the only one that thinks Sony is killing SACD all by itself...?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Javier_Huerta, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. Javier_Huerta

    Javier_Huerta Supporting Actor

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    I was thinking...

    ((Disclaimer: I own a SACD player and like the format))

    First, Sony says SACD has an intrinsic advantage over DVD-A: hybrid discs. You can still buy the music you like, and move to a higher level of performance later on by buying a SACD player. Meanwhile, the fidelity will already be higher by using SBM on the DSD to produce the 44.1/16 mix. Hooray!

    Then, players appear. People can't justify spending thousands of dollars to play stereo-only mixes of the (supposedly) multichannel music they are expecting to listen to.

    Later on, it's pretty obvious Sony has no intention whatsoever of producing hybrid discs - correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they have ever released a hybrid discs themselves. Every Sony / Columbia disc I own is a single layer version.

    To add insult to injury, they don't even create the CD layer from the remastered SACD one - as it has been widely reported, DSOTM's CD layer is different from the SACD one - and it has clipping and compression applied. Nice way to treat those cheap people who didn't pay for a real SACD player, I guess.

    AND THEN, they allow plants like Crest to keep pressing cracked discs when they DO press hybrids.

    Nice going, Sony. I guess you want to kill SACD waaay faster than you killed Betamax and MD. [​IMG]
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Javier, I have often voiced my frustration with Sony's handling of SACD, so I hear you. My biggest sources of frustration with Sony have been the slow rate of release of new titles on SACD, the dearth of hardware of late, and the overall poor marketing of the format. While I have been critical of Sony for not producing hybrids, that criticism has more been centered on how the lack of hybrids is a poor marketing practice, not so much on how it affects me personally. I have SACD players, and if I like the music enough, I'll buy the CD for use out of the house. Besides, I don't like taking my SACDs in the car, so having a dedicated CD is just fine with me. However, the lack of hybrids from Sony, espcially hybrids that replace standard CDs, has potentially stunted SACDs growth or market penetration. I think SACD would be much farther along had Sony taken key titles and replaced standard CDs with hybrid SACDs. Of course, such catalog "upgrades" would have to be coupled with effective advertising to be effective. More on that later.

    It is my opinion that Sony has dropped the ball on the hardware side of the equation. Given that Sony is a large mega-electronics behemoth, I certainly did not expect Sony to give us a complete line of high-end single-disc players like the SCD-1 and SCD-777ES over the years. I realize and actually agree with Sony's approach of targeting audiophiles with its initial players. Furthermore, Sony has started approaching the masses with cheaper SACD players, and I applaud them for that. Unfortunately, Sony has not done enough.

    We all know that Sony discontinued the very popular SCD-CE775 budget SACD changer and did not issue a replacement. Likewise, Sony still has not replaced the well-received DVP-NC650V DVD/SACD carousel changer. How can so much time pass without a basic DVD/SACD carousel changer on the product range? (A replacement for the 'NC650V was announced earlier this year, but it has not yet issued.) Also, we still have not seen a DVD/SACD megachanger. (Sony did also announced one of these earlier in the year, but it too has not issued.) Sony has never given us a CD/SACD megachanger. Sony also discontinued the popular and outstanding SCD-C555ES without providing a replacement. Even when Sony has issued a quality budget player for the masses, they have not adequately marketed it. My local Best Buy stores got the DVP-NS755V single-disc DVD/SACD player months after it was put on the market, and within three months, they no longer were carrying it.

    All of my issues, in the end, boil down to Sony's marketing, or lack thereof, of the SACD format. Sony has not taken on an agressive ad campaign. Sure, they post ads in audio and home-theater magazines, but these magazines are not necessarily read by the masses. How about ads in Time, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The New York Times? How about TV commercials during the Super Bowl or Game 3 of the NBA Finals? Of course, if you are going to spend the money on major ad campaigns, then you had best get product in stores that the average consumer will buy. So, there is an interplay between all of my issues.

    In addition to the lack of hybrid discs as replacements for CDs and the lack of certain SACD hardware, Sony has not done a suitable job promoting SACD in stores. For many, many months, Best Buy stores had SACDs buried in the back. Most consumers probably never saw them. Circuit City also has a paltry selection of SACDs in kiosks separated from the CD department. Of course, many other chain retailers do not even stock SACDs, save for the single-inventory hybrid discs (e.g., the 22 Stones hybrids and The Police Every Breath You Take: The Classics). My theory there is that stores are hesitant to stock single-layer SACDs, as they are likely to cause confusion for the average consumer as well as the employees.

    All in all, things could be much worse for SACD, but as I look at the situation in mid-2003, nearly four years after the launch of the format, I feel things could be much better.
     
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    Sony hasn't pushed SACD as much as many would hope, but I can honestly understand why.

    SACD is an extremey small part of Sony, and isn't expected to be a major source of revenue. Sony understands that video is where the money is (ie. DVD, computers, Playstation). Times have changed, and consumers have heard the best audio they're going to hear or care about in CD and are happy (if they even notice) to trade sound quality for the convenience of MP3.

    Sony's approach to SACD can be seen as a gamble that (if lucky enough and the stars all line up) can gain them some serious cash - but the odds are seriously against it paying off in the long run.

    If I were running Sony, I wouldn't be betting the farm on SACD. Based on consumer demand/interest, it just wouldn't be a wise decision.

    It's only a matter of time before Sony will accept the fate of SACD and keep it as a niche product, or just kill it off altogether.
     
  4. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Sony has identified a group of consumers who will pay extra for better audio discs. They'll price gouge us for SACD's while they attempt to make DSD a pro-studio standard. I don't think they particularly care if SACD is a success in the long run. If SACD succeeds on luck and word of mouth, then it succeeds...that's my extrapolation of Sony's point of view. I think they're way more concerned about the pro audio market.

    P.S. - Keith, why don't you just make MD's or CD's from your SACD's? I do. SACD is one of the best analog sources possible. I'll never buy the same title from Sony twice, or atleast very seldom.[​IMG]
     
  5. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Marc,

    The only problem is that by Sony not backing SACD to the fullest, they could be killing the format, albeit slowly. In doing so, SACD's fate could be a self-fulfilling prophecy -- You don't fully support the format because you are not sure the masses will go for it. As a result, the masses don't learn about it, don't have the opportunity to go for it, and the format goes nowhere in the grand scheme of things.


    Rachael,

    Well, minidisc would do me no good in the car or at work. I only listen to minidiscs at home, so I generally make compilations from CDs. I certainly could make CD-Rs from SACDs, as I have the technology. [​IMG] However, it's a bit of a pain to record in the analog domain. In the end, if I really like an album, I will buy the standard CD along with the single-layer SACD. Besides, I like having the booklet with me. As I have said before, Sony loves people like me. [​IMG]
     
  6. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    KeithH,

    I understand what you're saying and it makes sense.
    Sony not jumping on Hybrid releases from the start was a dumb move, and so is the lack of hardware.

    As much as I hate to agree with Sony in any way, I do understand their hesitation (with the exception of the lack of hybrids and hardware) to go "all out" in the promotion of SACD.

    It's an uphill battle, and the real competition to Hi-Rez is CD and MP3 - as well as the lack of consumer interest in a better sounding audio format.

    I think Sony is and always was comfortable with SACD as a niche product, and will consider anything more than that to be a bonus.
     
  7. charles white

    charles white Second Unit

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    SACD was, IMHO, the logical progression for the concept of the 5 inch optical disc. You would think that Sony would make it backwards compatible for a few years, flooding the market with
    hybrid discs and pushing all new hardware to hear the SACD layer and the higher fidelity to the masses, eventually phasing out the compact disc completely. But like other side, DVD-Audio, they missed this opportunity completely or just chose to ignore it.
     
  8. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Sony and Philips are on the horns of a dilemma with regards hybrid disks. People with cheap systems would then be able to A:B the redbook and SACD layers very easily. And they may quickly decide that SACD is just media hype. If all people get is a SACD layer, they will think it sounds good. I only have a mid-fi set, but have been most impressed with my new Philips DVD963SA. But then again it also upsamples my redbooks, so perhaps it's just having a first-rate source that is impressive.
     
  9. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Keith, just make an MD of your SACD and then tansfer the MD to CD. The Sony 333 & 555 and the Pioneer MJ17 all have excellent analog sections. I think their analog sections outperform their digital sections. That's been my experience with vinyl and SACD's. Come on, analog recording ain't rock-it science. How bad can your best MD unit do? Proably better than you think? BTW, the 333 proably equals the 555 in sound quality. I can't tell much difference. The 333 omits a FADER and has no front panel SCROLL button. Besides, that the 333 is A-OK. Just thought you'd like to know, given your MD plight. Best wishes![​IMG]

    P.S.-double your titles, double your fun!
     
  10. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Sony has recently manufactured it own hybrid disc and, in fact, has said it will be releasing more hybrids. In fact, several of the Dylan releases will be hybrid.

    I too wish they had done this sooner, but I think overall Sony has done an okay job of promoting the format through:

    1. Regular SACD hardware updates.
    2. Supporting big titles like DSOTM, Stones, Dylan, etc.
    3. Promotion at HiFi shows and radio announcements, etc.

    Remember, this is a time of struggle for all the major music companies and we are in a down economy. If Sony has been a bit conservative with some marketing dollars then I understand.

    [​IMG]

     
  11. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  12. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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  13. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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  14. Nick_G

    Nick_G Stunt Coordinator

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    i saw the sony dvd/sacd in sound and vision. i also saw a zenith dvd/dvd-audio player for $150. now give me a player that plays both formats for about $200-300 and i'll consider buying one.
     
  15. Sam Owens

    Sam Owens Stunt Coordinator

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    Nick, the Zenith DVB318 or Pioneer DV-563A could be just the answer to your prayers...

    Unlike some folks here, my gut feeling says that after many years of farting around, Sony, along with the rest of the SACD camp, is finally getting its act together (compared to DVD-A which is in extreme danger of going tits up because of a lack of new software).*

    The Dylan catalogue releases and Sony's decision to go hybrid means that Sony SACD products will finally be able to seep into public consciousness.

    * Disclaimer: I have a universal player and like and enjoy both formats. My comments should not be interpreted as an excuse for another 5 page thread devoted to the format war now raging.
     
  16. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Sam, what format war?[​IMG] Suppose they gave a format war and nobody came...!
     
  17. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    I tend to agree with Lee here.[​IMG]
    If anything Sony and Philips try to "kill" the CD format.
    The "Compact Disc" logo no longer a cash cow,so why would they produce hybrids,make sense to me.DSD was developed to archive Sony's large music titles,and suddenly right around the time when Sony/Philips's exclusive rights to the CD licensing expires,they came up with the idea of "converting" DSD to SACD? Hmmmm.
    It's true that they could do more,especially on the hardware side,and release part of their gigantic [Columbia]titles in faster pace,but I have a feeling it is easier said then done.They could also lower their prices a bit,like to Telarc's level,and use their jewel case as well, and dump those vinyl/paper covers for god's sake!.......and that's all I had to say.[​IMG]
     
  18. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  19. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  20. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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