Is SACD just a vehicle to price-gouge audio ethusiasts?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rachael B, Dec 20, 2002.

  1. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    I hate to say it but I'm comming to that conclusion. I don't see Sony doing ANY of the things that could lead the format into the mainstream.

    1. a scant selection of players on the market

    2. continuing to supply single-layer, non-hybrid, discs

    3. no substantial advertising

    It's been evident for a long time that Sony has a completely inadequate marketing department. The company is great at developing products but their marketing efforts are nearly fruitless.

    I think Sony has already concluded that they can't or won't make SACD into a mainstream format. I believe they are just looking at SACD users as a group of folks who can be manipulated into paying excessive amounts for their audio discs.

    I hope I'm wrong but.....
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    What makes you think that Sony would ever intend for SACD to be a mainstream format? They clearly do not and never have.

    Audiophiles have deep pockets and are willing to pay for quality. Remember all those LaserDisc years? Did you feel "Price-gouged" when you bought all those discs? I didn't. I simply understood that I was paying a premium price for a premium product. I'm willing to do that with SACD and DVD-A today.
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Rachael asked:
     
  4. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  5. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I'm not into SACD (only because I don't have a player), but I think your point could be made with DVD-A as well.

    I don't see it as price gouging. I only one 1 DVD-A disc that I already had on CD. Since most of the DVD-A titles are $13.99 (online, Circuit City), I don't see it as a gouge at all especially considering the extra sound quality...
     
  6. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    RE: Cost of SACDs vs. DVD-A...

    My player is bisexual so it can handle both, but I have to say that I am much more likely to buy (at $13.99) a DVD-A title, which has perhaps 4 or 5 different tracks (MC DVD-A, 2CH DVD-A, DD, DTS, and maybe even 2CH 96/24 PCM), than a SACD disc at close to $20 which MAY have a 2CH and a Multi Channel mix (Jeff Beck Blow by Blow for example).

    I feel like I am getting a lot more bang for the buck with DVD-A, putting aside the argument of which format sounds better (which sure as heck is not going to be settled any time soon!).

    Even the packaging is better with DVD-A (IMHO).

    Definitely some missed opportunities from the SACD camp.

    Now, if they would release the (INSERT NAME OF FAVORITE ARTIST HERE) catalog on SACD, all will be forgiven, and any price will be paid!

    For me, the killer app would be the Beatles.

    BL
     
  7. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I completely disagree. SACD gives we wannabe-audiophiles a low-cost alternative to what, until now, was the only means of achieving acceptable home audio: beaucoup bucks spent on high quality turntables, high quality cartridges, tube-based equipment, etc. etc., not to mention the much higher costs of vinyl compared to SACD. But, now, I can approximate the sound that these folks have spent thousands upon thousands achieving for a fraction of that cost.
    While I certainly don't think SACD is "for the masses", most of which would not perceive its improvement over CD nor be willing to pay for it even if they did, it's certainly not a "price-gouging" formula for those of us who really do care about quality audio. Just the opposite in fact. Through SACD, I finally have the opportunity to actually achieve quality audio in my system without it being cost-prohibitive.
    As said, I simply can't afford a high quality turntable, a high quality cartridge, tube-based equipment, and a big collection of vinyl (most of which cannot even be integrated into my current system, even in the short-term, thus all but requiring a huge investment in a secondary, music-only system). As a result I've been suffering from the immense defects of the CD, the pinched two-dimensional soundstage and the unnaturally-reproduced timbres, and utterly without an affordable alternative.
    SACD is that affordable alternative. The comparatively low price of the players, the media, and the ability to immediately integrate it with my existing surround system means I'm suddenly approaching the sound quality I've been coveting for all these years. Vinyl/tube heads might counter that I still haven't quite matched their level of audiophilia, but I've now come close... and for far, far less money. My Sony C555ES cost only $600.
    So, I think you've got it just exactly backwards, Rachel. SACD is the low-cost savior for audiophiles on a budget. Is it for the masses? Probably not.
    Let them eat MP3. [​IMG]
     
  8. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Lee,

    You don't think CEDIA is a big show for product announcements, yet at CEDIA in 2000, Sony unveiled a number of SACD capable players including the SCD-C555ES, SCD-C333ES and the DVD-S9000ES.

    In 2001, they unveiled more SACD capable players, including the Dream machines, but I don't recall specific models.

    In 2002, they unveiled nada for SACD, yet had a number of product introductions.

    Regards,
     
  9. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    I think Rachael might have a valid point. If you think of us cd/sacd/dvd-a buyers as if we are on an escalator or conveyor belt, you'll see people getting off because:
    1. no longer interested
    2. not willing to re-buy their inventory
    3. no longer alive.

    Now look at where young people are getting on. Look at the catalog of music being produced for them. Pathetic, especially for a long term situation.

    Back to us on the conveyor belt.
    Inventory of product? Yes.
    Desire to re-buy? Yes.
    Money to re-buy? Yes.

    So if the record companies stand back and take a long term view, what do they see? I think they see a window of opportunity that will permanently close in time. The amount of people stepping off the conveyor belt means they've got to do (complete) catalogs NOW. Think Rolling Stones, Beatles, etc.

    I hope I'm wrong... How do you see it?
     
  10. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

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    I think John T. is on the right track here. Seems to me that the era of media-based prerecorded music as a mass-market pop culture item is fading. In the era of the downloaded MP3 played back on computer speakers, sound quality is not the selling point it once was. SACD and DVD-A both, IMO, represent a last deperate grab for cash by the labels before the market for quality prerecorded music becomes an even tinier niche than it is now.

    Media-based music will be a niche market in a decade or so. Downloads will be the bulk of the market. High-quality media-based music will be a niche of a niche, but a profitable one. Just not profitable in a mass-market way.

    I don't see it as "price-gouging" so much as squeezing the last round of profits from a dying market.

    Ryan
     
  11. andrew markworthy

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  12. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I do think there is some price gouging going on, (just look at the new CCR discs at $25 a pop[​IMG]), but you could also make the argument that we are paying for luxury music. SACD being an upgrade from CDs, which already have an inflated retail price in the $18-20 range, should probably be more expensive.
    The overall problem is, as Lee mentioned, that the entire system is broken. CDs should not be at the level they are now if it wasn't for ridiculous artist contracts. If the record industry used some self restraint, CDs would be lower in price, and the whole MP3 illegal downloading debate would be a very small issue. As it is now, consumers have rebeled against overpaying for records that contain mostly garbage. I know alot of people who are content in just downloading a copy of a song or two that they like, instead of plopping down their cash on the entire album. With the prevalence of CD burners, you can then burn these downloaded songs to disc in whatever order you desire in the privacy of your own home. Technology does have some blame in the record companies problems, but I think quality of music in todays market is the biggest factor in their struggles.
    That being said, Sony should either lower their MSRP or provide Hybrids (which they always tout as a selling point for SACD), to promote some sort of added value to their releases. One of the reasons I have been buying more DVD-A discs then SACD recently, is that I can get them for 13.99. At that price it is an unbelievable steal for Hi-res multichannel, Hi-res stereo, DD/DTS, and bonus features such as interviews or lyrics all on one disc. DVD-A provides a selling point of extra content that CD and SACD just cannot provide. It does not make sense to me to pay more then 13.99 for a standard CD or even a single layer SACD when they are not as complete a package as DVD-A. If the recording industry hopes to survive in it's current form, it needs a format such as DVD-A which gives the consumer value beyond strictly audio which can easily be downloaded for free.
     
  13. Zane Charron

    Zane Charron Second Unit

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    Personally, I wouldn't mind if SACD and DVD-A stayed a niche market like laserdiscs were. As long as the prices stay around $15-20 for a title, I wouldn't mind paying for what I consider a high-quality format. At least you know you'll be getting a quality product that is made for people just like you (audiophiles), similar to what Criterion does for DVDs.

    It seems to me that mass penetration wouldn't lower the price of SACDs or DVD-As that much (if at all). Just look at CDs, as others have already mentioned. A 20 year old format and they still charge an average of $15 a disc. It's all basic supply and demand economics. Granted, the selection of titles would be much greater with mass penetration, but I don't think there are too many audiophiles hankering for 'Ooops, I Did It Again' in 96/24.

    The future of mass media-based music is certainly online, no matter what the record companies want it to be. They have been extremely slow in figuring out ways to charge the customers for getting music online. Their loss.

    I think what they SHOULD have done is made multi-channel music simply using DD/DTS on normal DVDs instead of DVD-A/SACD. Or, if there is enough room, a full bitstream. They could have been offering this since the beginning of DVD in '97 and been well on their way by now WITHOUT the format confusion. I truly believe that the average consumer is quite satisfied with the sound quality of CDs. And they could add all the multi-media content they wanted as well (space provided, of course). And leave the high-res formats for us audio/music-philes.

    That's my two sense.
     
  14. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    You guys (Zane excepted) are still pitching to Joe Boombox. But Rachel's question is aimed at the "audio enthusiast".

    Joe Boombox notes that SACD is currently more expensive than CD, and -- even more importantly to him -- both are more expensive than downloaded MP3s. If price is paramount, and sound quality plays no part, then MP3ing is certainly the way to go. And this is Joe Boombox's medium of choice. CDs are like cavier and fine wine to him, and just as unnecessary.

    But the question Rachel asked is whether SACD (and also DVD-A, I presume) is just a vehicle to price gouge the audio enthusiast? I say "no way!"

    The audio enthusiast looks down his nose at MP3. The crappy pop records of which one or two tracks might hold some scant interest to the bubblegum crowd do not interest his ear. The audio enthusiast cares about sound quality and a well-rounded library, is deeply unsatisfied with CD, and likely to own (or covet) expensive vinyl-based systems. For these folk, SACD and DVD-A are a low-cost alternative to a vinyl-based system.

    Unfortunately, DVD-A seems to be relying on Joe Boombox's money for their business model to succeed, and has pitched itself to him. This is why, I'd wager, that the DVD-A camp is currently so anxious. SACD, on the other hand, pitched itself to the "audio enthusiast" from the very beginning, and will likely survive as a niche market even should Joe Boombox remain permanently uninterested.
     
  15. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Are BMWs, Criterion DVDs, and Versaci clothes "price-gauging?" Many believe so, and that is their right. That's the great thing about capitalism- we have a wide selection of different products at different prices for different people.

    The problem with your initial post, Rachael, is that you claim SACD marketing is bad for audiophiles but then the reasons you give are more for non-audiophiles. For example, while non-hybrids are a concern for everyone, it is much more so for those who consider convenience more important than sound quality, ie, non-audiophiles.

    Also, when talking about audiophile product, using Sony titles as the main point of measurement is not fair. The other labels produce titles that generally appear more to audiophiles, like classical and jazz, and they make better sounding discs (IMO). I would go so far as to say that if you're only listening to Sony SACDs, you're missing out on the full experience of SACD.

    But finding out about these titles and acquiring them is what hobbyists do. It is a hobby market. And what's wrong with that?

    I just got an issue of Acoustic Sounds (I didn't request one, but oh well) and while looking through it realised how many SACDs are out there that I want. It is a lot- plenty to keep me busy. It is no wonder why SACD is the preferred format over DVDA for audiophiles- forget DSD and sampling this and watermarking that- there are just so many more and better titles that appeal to the audiophile.
     
  16. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  17. MattCPT

    MattCPT Stunt Coordinator

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    Lee,
    You stated that the Sony NS 900V is among the currently available SACD players, but to my knowledge it has been discontinued. I purchased one myself 3 months ago from onecall.com for $550 and it was their last one. The salesman there and at my local audio shop stated that they wouldn't be receiving any more because Sony has stopped producing them.

    As others have stated I find it very disheartening that Sony has failed to offer more SACD players then their current line-up. This appears to be a step backwards towards acceptance of their product. Of course so is the unfortunate lack of multichannel hybrid discs and limited release of superstar titles.

    Some people have stated that SACD is doing a better job of getting more artists available as seen by the large amount of releases,(I hope this is true because I don't own a DVD-A player) but I don't see this from my experience with local stores. In the last three months I've noticed that the SACD section at Best Buy has remained the same size while completely disappearing from F.Y.E.(For Your Entertainment). On the other hand the DVD-A section at Best Buy has at least doubled while F.Y.E. has increased their DVD-A section to fill the space used for the SACDs that they have discontinued. On top of this another Cd store in the mall has opened a DVD-A section (again no SACDs).

    I'm very happy with the sound of my SACDs, but even as an audiophile I'm hesitant to buy a single layer stereo SACD, I don't believe that their is much value in it. Part of my thinking is based on the fact that some single layer SACDs later become multichannel SACDs.

    To answer the original question "No", I don't think that I'm being abused financially when purchasing high resolution because I do so freely and I'm happy with the results of my purchase. I do however feel that Sony in particular is doing a poor job of supporting their own format as seen by MANY missed opportunities.
     
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Lee,

    I don't see Sony introducing new products for audio enthusiasts. Geez, Sony hasn't even replaced the budget 'CE775 changer.

    Sony also hasn't gone all the way with DVD/SACD players either. As I said, Sony has not yet introduced SACD into its budget DVD players, and Sony currently has no DVD/SACD changer on the range. In my opinion, Sony has done a lousy supporting SACD on the hardware side of the equation in 2002. Plain lousy.


    All,

    Even if Sony has decided to focus on SACD as a niche format because it feels that is the reality of the situation, I feel Sony could be doing a much better job in supporting the format. Even if Sony has no plans to produce and distribute SACDs on a grand scale (i.e., comparable to the production and distribution pattern of CDs), Sony should be producing hybrid discs. Sony should realize that even the niche clientele have a need for CDs. Furthermore, for a niche format, Sony could be producing titles on a more consistent basis. Even if Sony is not going to replace its entire CD catalog with hybrid SACDs, it could release more SACD titles for limited distribution. Sony's release rate of SACD titles has been disappointing in 2002, in my opinion. Finally, Sony has done a poor job in supporting the higher-end market in terms of hardware in the latter half of 2002.
     
  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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  20. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Lee, I know that the Analogue Productions SACDs are excellent, but they are overpriced. The masses will not pay $25 for a music disc. Of course, the Analogue Productions discs are not being marketed to them, which is part of the problem.
     

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