Bob Stuart, Meridien and Super Audio

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lee Scoggins, May 16, 2002.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Friends,
    I read with great interest today a very interesting article in the just-hit-the-stands Stereophile for June 2002 (see page 17-18).
    As many of you know Bob Stuart and his company (which I might add make superb, if very expensive, audio equipment) created MLP, one of the underpinnings of DVDA.
    There has been much back and forth between the WG-4 DVDAudio supporting companies and their spokespeople like Bob Stuart and the Super Audio camp at recent AES or Audio Engineering Society meetings. On the DVDA side, Vanderkooy and Lipshitz have discussed ultrasonic noise in Super Audio and James Angus (a Sony consultant) among others on the Super Audio side defending the DSD format. Recently Derk Reefman (Philips) has made impressive presentations on lowering the DSD noise levels to -160db and possibly even -180db.
    Here is where it gets interesting: Angus was supposed to present at the May 2002 AES in Munich along with supporters from both camps. At the last minute, just days before the convention, Bob Stuart canceled.
    The rumor? Meridian may be working on a SACD player. [​IMG]
    Very Interesting!
    Now to be fair, this is as of yet unsubstantiated rumor, but I am gathering some gossip and facts that I will share if of value.
    One things for sure: Seeing Meridian produce a Super Audio player would be a real blow to DVDA in terms of signal value.
    Lee
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Lee, first of all, it's Meridian. [​IMG] Secondly, let's get real here. I am not going to say that the production of an SACD player by Meridian is out of the realm of possibility, but Bob Stuart missing a presentation means nothing. I'm sure Stuart is very busy. Maybe something else came up. Maybe he was sick. Who knows? Sorry, but the idea of Meridian working on an SACD player is pure supposition and sounds like the quality of reporting one sees over on Audio Asylum. [​IMG]
    On a final note, Meridian is still supposed to release a high-end DVD-Audio player this year.
     
  3. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    KeithH,

    Thanks for correcting my spelling. I work a lot with Meridien Research, so I always get confused on this one.

    I am hearing some heavy buzz from my audio friends on this. I am collecting more information but this is a major presentation he was scheduled to be a part of. The reporting here was from Stereophile clearly a step up from the ole Audio Asylum. Given people's sensitivities on the whole format issue, I'm sure they checked for good sources.

    If this is a confirmed misread of the situation, I will let the forum know immediately after I confirm it.

    Lee
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Lee, fair enough. Still, there are a lot of reasons why he could have missed the meeting. I have not heard anything about Meridian canceling production of its DVD-Audio player. Now if that were to happen, then I'd be curious.
     
  5. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Keith,

    What I find intriguing is the possibility that this may be a conflict with Bob Stuart in the sense that Meridian may for business reasons want to cater to their high end audiophile customer base from a business standpoint despite the development they did on MLP.

    Or could it be that Bob has had a change of heart due to improvements in the DSD recording chain?

    Given the high visibility of his speech, many were shocked as I understand. We will have to see what the reason for the cancellation was due to.

    Perhaps Super Audio can exist as a niche product, regardless of whether the masses embrace it. Maybe with clever marketing it can be something like THX that the public is somewhat familiar with as a mark of good sound.
     
  6. Jeff Keene

    Jeff Keene Supporting Actor

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    High-end combo player, anyone?

    OK, wishful thinking.

    NP: Fleewood Mac - Rumours DVD-A
     
  7. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,
    Nice rumour mongering.
    There is one fact in your post. Bob Stuart had to cancel an appearance at an AES convention. The whys are unknown to you, or Stereophile. That's some pretty damning evidence you've presented so far [​IMG]
    There are a number of reasons that Messr. Stuart might have needed to cancel. I assure you that the presentation by Mr. Angus is not one of them. Bob's a very smart guy, and it is fairly safe to say that the cancellation is unrelated.
    I suppose it hasn't occurred to you that besides Messr. Stuart there are a number of other really smart people working at Meridian, that might be attending in his place, eh?
    The other items I will respond to seperately.
    Regards,
     
  8. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Keith,

    Meridian already has a DVD-A player, it's the 800.

    If I were a betting man, I would bet that the 598 (and upgrades to the 568 too) would be available sometime in the 3rd quarter of calendar year 2002. It is my understanding that most of the development (aka programming) is common between the 800/598 and 861/568.

    Regards,
     
  9. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,
    Sorry, I don't see SACD in the forseeable future for Meridian for several reasons, first and foremost:
    1) DSP algorithms are not yet clearly defined for DSD. I have heard that even the available editing stations for DSD don't operate on the native DSD bitstream. Rather, that the Sonoma station operates at 32bit/352kHz PCM for internal processing (including edits). The Sony station has been stated publically to operate on 8-bit PCM, which rides on top of the DSD carrier.
    2) Sony will almost certainly not allow Meridian to pass the data digitally via MHR, even though MHR is shown to be an effective end-to-end encryption solution. No one will argue that when it comes to digital processing in consumer audio that Meridian is one of the best. Whether you like the Meridian sound or not is not at issue -- we are talking about their technical proficiency here.
    However, let's look past this and for arguments sake say that Meridian will develop a universal player, capable of playing back CD/DVD-V/DVD-A/SACD.
    Warning, the following is idle speculation, treat it as such:
    Given item (1) above, Meridian would in all likelihood convert DSD to PCM algorithmically and treat it as any other digital source. Knowing Meridian and their track record, they'll do the algorithm themselves, and end up with a better sounding algorithm than others have come up with.
    They might even do the DSD/PCM conversion in the 598 and/or 800 players and then just pass the signal like all others.
    end of speculation
    I don't see any conflict of interest were Meridian to introduce SACD capability into their product line. I see it as allowing their customers the ability to playback the music of their choice, without regard to digital playback medium.
    Regards,
     
  10. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    John,
     
  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,

    There you go. If someone implies it, it must be true. In politics, the term is "smear campaign". In history class the term would be "yellow journalism".

    Its great copy, and it probably helps sell an issue or two. Luckily, the implication isn't explicitly stated, so S'phile needn't worry about someone bringing up the companies parent for libel.

    I invite you to do some searches at the Audio Asylum, specifically under the moniker Demery - Sony. This is Dr. Philip Demery who has stated that an intermediate layout is used for DSP and editing. This intermediate layout is 8-bit PCM over DSD.

    The upcoming (note that this means not yet for sale) mixing stations can easily do all the work "behind the curtains", ie convert input to 8-bit PCM @ 2.8mHz, perform operations as required and spit out DSD, the conversion is relatively simple to do on an ASIC these days.

    I suspect Bob (and let's not forget the other very smart people that worked on MLP) will be the first to tell you they came nowhere close to inventing DVD-A, but rather they delivered a key piece of technology enabling its delivery. It is important to note that others (including DTS and even Sony) had ample opportunity to deliver to WG-4 a working algorithm. None but Meridian were successful in meeting the requirements of the compression algorithm.

    With other recent statements, one very interesting was pointed out here I might add, the thought that DVD-A is anywhere near its end are sadly misguided. That is unless releasing DVD-A and CDs day and date for major titles on Warner is considered "near its end".

    Regards,
     
  12. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  13. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    John,

    From Sony Europe press release:

     
  14. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,
    I make a living as a technology professional, I assure you that there is a substantive difference between inventing DVD-A and delivering one of the key enabling technologies. I deal with that distinction all the time in the current projects that I am working on.
    I mean no disrespect to MLP, which is a pretty damned good bit of technology. If you read the papers on MLP, you will find that MLPs application is broader than just DVD-A. Although I am far from expert on the topic, I know no technical reason that it couldn't be used in future products as well.
    As far as DSD being well underway, that's true. Sony also acted like Eric Cartman when told that DSD would not be allowed as an alternative encoding format as part of the DVD-Audio specification with WG-4... It was "Screw you guys, I'm going home." Why was it not included? See above with respect to the inability to effectively perform DSP operations on a DSD datastream.
    Do you think I didn't read the press info on the new Sony stations? This says nothing about the status of the stations. Sony exhibited the SCD-1 at HiFi '99 literally months ahead of its delivery to the consumer. Philips exhibited their SACD 1000, literally months before its availiability. It's the norm to exhibit products months prior to their general availibility. Look at the Marantz DV-8300 as yet another example of this practice. Meridian was showing the 800/861 combo literally months ahead of its availibility as a commercial product. Sharp showed prototypes of its 1-bit theater at CES 2002, although it is at least another 6 months to one year (from now) before it will be availabile.
    The ability to provide functions on a chip is nothing new, and says literally zero about the internal operations. It's these internal operations that are key.
    Regards,
     
  15. Sutjahjo Ngaserin

    Sutjahjo Ngaserin Stunt Coordinator

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    The person who started the rumour is being naughty. Bob Stuart has on several occassions stated that he will finally make a player that can be upgraded to play ALL formats!
     
  16. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    So is this intended to take a swipe at DVD-A, Lee? It sure seems that way. Beleive it or not, there alot of us who have both formats and don't feel the need to extoll the virtues of one at the expense of the other.

    Do you own a DVD-A player?

    Curious,

    DJ
     
  17. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    David,
    I own a DVDA player in fact and I like some of the DVDAs like Hotel California.
    This is not a swipe at DVDA, just my curiosity as a management consultant looking into a situation where business needs may have outweighed personal philosophy.
     
  18. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    John,

     
  19. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,

    Rather than post something that might be over the top, I will only say that your characterizations of Bob Stuart are at best out of line.

    BTW, can you share with us the Chesky recordings you've participated in? Given that I have a few of them on CD, DVD-V, DVD-A and SACD, I'd like to take a listen to your part time handiwork.

    What gear was used to capture the recordings, and what are your opinions of the final product in the various media?

    Regards,
     
  20. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I want to see Lee and John on Fox's celebrity boxing! [​IMG]
    John,
    I was not aware that Meridian already has a DVD-Audio player out. I never saw it at my local Meridian dealer, though they probably have it because they like DVD-Audio (and ignore SACD). I'm sure the Meridian player is a sweet machine.
     

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