Have your friends heard of DVD-A/SACD?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Darryl, Mar 13, 2003.

  1. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

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    Today I had lunch with 5 of my co-workers. Earlier in the day I had read some comments about how hi-res music will always be a niche market, so I decided to ask my fellow lunchers a few questions:
    • Have you heard of DVD-A? All 5 said no.
    • Have you heard of SACD? All 5 said no.
    • Do you have a DVD player? 4 yes, 1 no.
    • When watching a movie on DVD, do you play the sound through the TV speakers or through external speakers? 3 through TV, 1 through external speakers, guy with no DVD player also has no TV!
    • For the one guy who played through external speakers, is it a 5.1 system? Yes.
    • Do you ever listen to music as more than background sound, i.e., as a dedicated activity? 2 yes, 3 not really. Wierd how none of them gave a strong "no". Their wishy-washy way of responding makes me think that listening to music as a dedicated activity was a totally foreign concept to them so they didn't know how to answer.
    I explained a little about hi-res, surround, and compatiblity with DVD players and CD players, then asked more questions:
    • Now that you know a little about hi-res music, does it sound interesting to you? 4 no, 1 kind-of
    • If the same music were available on CD and hybrid SACD, but the SACD was $1 more expensive, which would you buy? All 5 said CD
    • If the same music were available on CD and DVD-A, but the DVD-A was $1 more expensive, which would you buy? All 5 said CD, although 1 guy actually had to take a second to think it over.
    • What if the hybrid SACD was the same price as the CD? 4 said hybrid, 1 said CD because he didn't want to risk having it not play in a PC.
    • What if the DVD-A was the same price as the CD? All 5 said CD, but the same guy who had to think about the previous question said he would at least try a few DVD-A's to play at home. If he was extremely impressed with surround music he might switch from CD.

    For this group of guys, being able to play music anywhere is important, especially in the car. One of them is big into MP3s and went off about how music on disc - any disc - is an outdated concept. Only the guy with the 5.1 system cared about surround sound. Improved sound quality didn't matter in the least to any of them. They certainly aren't willing to buy a new player to get improved sound quality, whether for home, the car, or a portable device.

    This is obviously too few people to be a definitive representation of the general population. And it's not meant to be a launch pad for another format bashing thread. I just thought a sample data point might be interesting to some of you. It sure was to me!
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Well one thing that can be taken away from this is that much public education needs to be done by supporters of both formats.

    That probably starts with a marketing campaign on a few big albums and lots of print media and hopefully a bit on national TV coverage.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Michael St. Clair

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    Darryl,

    Your coworkers are the typical american consumers that buy 99% of the CDs sold. That's why 'sneaky' single-inventory hybrid sales (like The Stones and likely Pink Floyd, and other eventual releases including DVD-A) are no measurement of the demand for high-res formats.
     
  4. Darryl

    Darryl Stunt Coordinator

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  5. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    My friends, even the ones who really like music and attend numerous concerts with me, usually show disinterest when I bring up SACD. But they do revel in the great sound they hear when they come over to hear my system. They know how much I spent on my gear however and feel that great sound is more indicitive of what I've spent on speakers and amps rather than the SACD format unfortunately. As for their perspective, they may have a small point, although I certainly can hear the differences between redbook and SACD.
     
  6. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    My friends have heard of DVD-Audio and SACD...through me! [​IMG] Generally, they don't care enough to buy into either format.
     
  7. robertLP

    robertLP Stunt Coordinator

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    Same goes for me. Of everyone I know, only one owns a DVD-A disc; and that's because I gave it to him for xmas!

    At the end of the day, we have to view DVD-A and SACD for what they really are: tiny improvements over CD that only the hardcore music fan will appreciate.

    Like I've said before, a consumer needs many things in order to get into these new formats:

    1) A proper 5.1 setup (high-rez stereo just won't cut it)
    2) Brand new component to their system
    3) halfway decent audio equipment to begin with
    4) time set aside for critical listening
    5) disposable income to re-purchase albums they already own

    Hybrids are the way to go for either format. Let the 99% of the public enjoy redbook and let the rest of us audio nuts enjoy the high-rez layers.
     
  8. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    My friends only know about DVD-A and SACD because of me. Actually, what cracks me up is I have a friend that, because of a movie poking fun at the porn industry and the acroynm "DVDA" that is used in the film, he thinks DVDA means something else altogther.

    We always get a cheap laugh from that.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Greg Johnson

    Greg Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert said:
     
  10. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    I haven't actually polled my friends, but my impression would be that save for one that actually has a Sony SACD/DVD player, none of the others are familiar with hi-res at all nor do they care. save for said friend with SACD player, I am the only person I know with anything resembling a decent set-up for multi-channel; two or three friends have HTiBs, one refuses to get even that since he thinks it's silly to have "bullets whizzing by your head at home" and wants to save that for the cinema, even though he is a DVD buff (he has probably 300+, including the entire ST:TOS).

    another friend who has a serious hi-fi system (cost 4,000 pounds) refuses to link it to his DVD player, as he thinks the dynamics would risk blowing his speakers. too bad, his system was really sweet.

    I have also run across one client who was familiar in passing with SACD (he described it as "is that the one with one-bit up, one-bit down?"), and was interested to hear (from me) that it was picking up a bit. don't think he has a heavy-duty set-up though, especially since he's an expatriate here.
     
  11. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    My experience with the "general non audiophile public" is much like Darryl's, and I think these general impressions, while anecdotally-based, are nonetheless important indicators of where we might be headed. In particular, I never find persuasive any argument based on the needs and desires of the mainstream consumer. I'm convinced that they are all but irrelevant, except to the extent that they might inadvertently purchase "stalking horse" technology, that is, a hybrid disc like the ABKCO Rolling Stones releases.

    Let me give you an example that I raised yesterday with regard to the notion that people with DVD players will naturally purchase DVD-A discs (sorry for repeating myself). There are 36,500 members on this forum alone, all of whom presumably have DVD players... where are they when we discuss DVD-A titles? Why do the same 10-15 people keep having the same discussion over and over if the format's truly as ecumenical as we (always the same we) keep saying? How many of that 36,500 have ever purchased a DVD-A disc? 1%? 2%? Even that many?

    I don't think this is a format issue; I think it's a cultural issue. I believe television programming and home video are the pop culture products of choice today. Music is merely another disposable commodity to the vast majority, less important even than Seinfeld reruns. Looking to them to save either of our beloved new formats seems foolish to me.

    And I also don't think multichannel is the draw that many of you do. For us, it's exciting, occasionally head-spinning. But have you even considered the fact that most people with DVD players do NOT have full surround-sound systems? Nearly everyone I know, casually or otherwise, has a DVD player, but only a very small subset of those people have surround systems. Don't you know that the vast majority of people with DVD players listen through the speakers on their TVs?

    And so I can't help but shake my head whenever I hear an argument made on behalf of the "mainstream consumer", the "average listener", the "mid-fi non-audiophile community", etc. You've heard these arguments, on behalf and against either format:

    "SACDs are better--at least the hybrid variety--because Joe Boombox can listen to them in his Honda, on his Walkman, etc." I'm convinced Joe Boombox doesn't give a shit.

    Or "DVD-A is better because Joe Home-Theater-in-a-Box can hear low-res multichannel on his DVD player". Again, 36,500 registered members of the Home Theater Forum, most of whom presumably have DVD players--and how many of them are here discussing DVD-A music titles?

    They don't care! Music means nothing more to them than pleasant wallpaper. It's background. It's trivial. Neither SACD nor DVD-A matter to them. I'm serious, they'd rather just listen to the crap spoonfed to them on corporate radio. While that upsets me, I'm not really trying to disparage anyone. I'm just trying to honestly assess "what the people want".

    So, the next time you make an argument on behalf of these people, consider for a moment whether they even care. And please understand that I'm not being fatalistic here. I believe both formats can survive in the short-term serving only the niche audiophile community, and perhaps "stalking horse" hybrids will slowly ease the conversion in the long-run. But if you're betting on the mainstream to suddenly adopt either or both formats, I think you should forget about it. It's not so much that they don't care deeply about the technology (though clearly they don't); rather, it's more that they don't care deeply about the music.
     
  12. Marvin

    Marvin Screenwriter

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  13. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    In the current issue of TV Guide, in an article about DVD players, it recommends "audiophiles" to look for DVD players that can play back MP3s.....
     
  14. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Interesting thread! Thanks for starting it with such an articulate post, Darryl.

    A bigger issue lurks beneath all other points being raised here: Audiophile-level hobbyism has never been a mainstream pursuit. Those who, in the 1960s, listened to AR-3a speakers fed by Marantz or McIntosh electronics and who bought separate SME tonearms for their Thorens turntables have always been a fringe minority.

    Even the more mass-market products of Pioneer, Sansui, Dynaco (not quite mass-market there, but affordable), Rectilinear, Kenwood, and so on were somewhat "fringe" compared with what most people were listening to (usually "portable stereos" or hulking "stereo consoles"—and, later, chain store-purchased "rack systems").

    Hobbyist audio never really has been that big. The mainstream public historically has not cared enough about sound reproduction to investigate it fully.

    When CD hit the market in 1982, it caught on mostly due to its convenience. To uneducated consumers, it also "sounded cleaner," though phono freaks are disputing that perception to this day.

    In this present environment, then—an era in which MP3s are accepted widely—how can one expect such high-res formats as SACD and DVD-A to make much of a ripple in the sonic marketplace?

    As Rich would note, people simply don't care. (Remember, they bought into the CD consortium's "perfect sound forever" mantra and believe it.)

    Adding to this dismal state of affairs is the, at best, indifferent marketing approach to SACD and DVD-A being taken by the manufacturers and the record companies.

    Hobbyist-level audio equipment is surviving in the current marketplace because so many thousands of new people are discovering it through home theater. Throw in pretty pictures with multichannel surround sound (i.e., DVD-Video), and all of a sudden the mainstream types are excited.

    Just how popular is hobbyist audio? Look at what's left of the audio-only press. Only what was once called the "underground press" is still with us, though it's hardly "underground" these days. Yet look at the profusion of home theater-related magazines (and, well, Websites).

    Music, apparently, is not an outright passion for that many people. No one will tell you he or she doesn't care that much about music. But I have always believed that anyone who truly cares about music will do all he or she can to reproduce it accurately in the home.

    Yet, when is the last time you entered a new friend's home and saw even a decent so-called "mid-fi" system?
     
  16. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    You know what's funny about this discussion?

    I could have said the same thing about DVDs in 1997. [​IMG]

    All of the above purely anecdotal stories can easily change as more and bigger titles are released.

    A more fruitful discussion may be to discuss how new formats can take off and what are characteristics of new product success.

    I personally see a real solid grass roots effort taking hold in Super Audio. As one of the first DVD video fans, I see a lot of parallels in the grass roots efforts. It may take longer due to the economy being more difficult and the lack of one standard, but I really believe that hi-rez could supplant redbook CD one day.

    Maybe I am an optimist but that's how I feel.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Following up on Jack's post a bit...

    While of course I still agree that "they don't care", one of the greatest things about the new hi-res formats is their affordability. I paid $600 for my C555ES (and consider it a bargain), but SACD and DVD-A players can be had for under $200, and most of these also do DVD-V. For that low price (and a few more cables), just about anyone can drop one of these players into their systems, and forever redefine previous notions of what a "mid-fi" system can sound like. IMO, these players represent the biggest bargains in audio today, allowing people to achieve a quality of sound that only a very few years ago was well beyond most budgets.
     
  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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  19. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Rich, you are killing me...I paid $800 for my C555ES, and I'm sure there were early converts who paid more than I did...but it still hurts to hear of all the people who jumped on this machine after me for far fewer $$$$.
     
  20. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Friggin double post!
     

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