Is Super Audio the Next Audiophile Format?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Lee Scoggins, Apr 5, 2004.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I got to thinking about Super Audio over the weekend. Everyone here knows I really like its sound, but I was thinking more about where we are possibly going with all this hirez music.

    Here's what I think may happen...Super Audio becomes the audiophile format of choice, 1st or 2nd to fans ongoing love for vinyl.

    Although I was initially optimistic that Super Audio might extend into a broader audience, it seems that is looking more and more low probability.

    Here is why I think Super Audio will stay with us for a while:

    1. Audiophiles primarily purchase Jazz and Classical music. Super Audio has a superb and growing selection in these genres. Lately there have been some great 60s and 70s rock albums and Clapton is due up.

    2. The high end manufacturers have really embraced releasing playback machines so hardware support is no problem. By the way, I understand Krell is going to make their SACD Standard in a new black color.

    3. Sony & Philips (people seem to forget Philips heavy ongoing involvement) have a lot to gain from the royalty stream on both consumer and professional sales of both hardware and software.

    4. Recording studios have embraced the technology, even if some of their releases do a DSD recording and then downconvert cleanly to redbook. I think this makes availability a lot easier to achieve.

    5. The music industry folks I speak with seem to be thinking more about a "barbell" market where people download or selectively purchase discs on the low end and collectors and fans buy more and more hirez on the upper end.

    6. Wildcard - BluRay and HD-DVD could rearrange the music landscape so 1 to 5 are contingent on that. Of course, it could help hirez as well if companies unite behind one format and do a coordinated marketing effort.

    What do you think of my logic?

    Do you agree or do you see the format fading away?
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    No takers?

    Well I at least thought Michael St. Clair would enjoy my statements about hirez likely not broadening into the mainstream. [​IMG]
     
  3. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    (sarcasm)I find that hard to believe.(/sarcasm) [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I dunno Lee, it seems like we're just retreading old discussions... but I'll bite.

    I think SACD is fading into a very small niche. As small as it is now, it'll probably get even smaller as I believe Sony will be shifting it's target.

    My guess is that SACD will be as small a niche as Mobile Fidelity is. No longer will we see single-inventory titles, or a collection of SACD remaster releases (ala Dylan, Stones, Police, etc). SACD titles will be released and marketed like audiophile products and will not mix in with CDs at the local BestBuy. A title here, a title there - no mass releases.

    Perhaps we'll see more care taken with future releases, as the titles will be released slower and a premium price will be charged for titles marketed specifically as audiophile products (ala Mobile Fidelity).

    It's strengths will be (as you stated) jazz and classical... and will include blues. Mainstream releases will probably be no more than 10% of the titles released.

    When I upgrade my system to my dream-gear, I'll be happy to have a collection of truly great jazz and classical SACD titles. Even if I only have 50 SACD titles in my collection, It'll be the music I enjoy represented very well sonically speaking.
     
  4. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    Next Audiophile Format?

    I don't think SACD will be the next audiophile format as there is not enough widespread adoption of the format even amoung audiophiles. Looking at boards such as Hoffman's there are a great number of people who are still not sold on or have purchased SACD and completely happy with Vinyl. Who can blame them though. Most new albums are available in some sort of Vinyl, while they may be waiting months for a Hi-res release that never shows up.

    This doesn't mean SA-CD (or DVD-A) is going to die anytime soon. It just means it will be a small niche (smaller then vinyl) and treated accordingly, especially by the major labels.

    J
     
  5. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    I think you're overestimating the contribution of the (small) classical market. Most serious collectors (that I know at least) are not leaping on SACD because they have little interest in rebuying a recording, some of which they already own multiple copies of. A lot of people here who are buying catalogue recordings on SACD are buying them for the first time. Also, the big thing right now in the classical industry are recordings made for radio broadcast being released commercially for the first time. BBC Legends, Andante, and Orfeo each specialize in this and are all become major labels. Audio quality is often poor (Europe taped most concerts in mono until the 70s), but despite this, these labels are thriving. So this runs against the idea that classical listeners, who have a great respect and demand for high quality recordings, will gravitate towards SACD because of its sonics. The bottom line is that people buy recordings for who is performing, and the quality of their performance. Serious collectors are not going to buy a recording just because it is a SACD.
     
  6. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    What about new classical recordings? Some titles are being recorded directly in DSD and are being released as hybrids only or as both hybrids and regular CDs.
     
  7. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Just about everything coming from the major labels is blah. Labels are also saturating the market rather quickly - 3 Mahler 3s in a year is a bit much. Also, many of last years most exciting new recordings are not available in SACD or DVD-A like the Zehetmair Quartet's Schumann String Quartets, Gardiner's Haydn Mass series, Sawallisch's new Schumann Cycle, and Manze's Corelli Sonatas.

    Harmonia Mundi and Chandos have been doing great work. I wish Supraphon when release some SACDs, and Naxos would release more. It would also be nice if someone made some studio opera recordings in DSD.
     
  8. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    To make up for all the years his work was neglected.[​IMG]
     
  9. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Aren't there some Bartoli pieces on DG?
     
  10. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  11. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    When you own a recording on LP and two different CD releases, I would think you'd rather buy a recording that you don't own instead of the same one for the 4th time (at full price).
     
  12. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    A response from the Stereophile survey:
    "I can say that it is a very nice format and I would upgrade in a second if I thought it would stand against the DVD-A marketing machine."

    Yeah, watch out for that DVD-A marketing machine. [​IMG]
     
  13. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Of course, but the same logic applies to any music.
     
  14. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    If there is a marketing machine, I think someone needs to change the batteries. [​IMG]
     
  15. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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  16. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Exactly. This person is not going to scoop up every reissue just because it offers better sound.

    I also think that in general, catalogue releases could be much better. DG for instance has a habit of repackaging the same 50 some catalogue recordings every 5 five years, and not surprisingly, these same 50 odd recordings are among the first from the back catalogue to come to SACD. Why not use SACD to bring back in print old recordings, or ones that at the very least haven't enjoyed excellent remastering on redbook. IMO, A smart catalogue release on SACD would be something like Kubelik's Gurrelieder (DG). It's currently OOP, received excellent reviews when first released, there are probably not more than 5 recordings of Gurrelieder in print now, and the piece would be perfect for SACD since few works call for such a large orchestra (about 400 musicians including singers).
     
  17. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Lee,

    I'd want something a little more mainstream, thought the Foss opera looks interesting.

    Philips has a brand new studio recording of Weber's Oberon in the can slated for release sometime between this fall and next year. That would make a great SACD (though it probably won't happen).

    Normally I'd be against yet another recording of Aida, but a new DSD recording with the right cast and conductor would be awsome. Anything Wagner would also be great.
     
  18. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    The small Italian Fone label is very nice in sonics and performance. Seems to get as much critical attention as it does from audiophiles. I plan on buying more from them.
     
  19. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Yeah but how many people outside of hardcore classical aficionados know about that and want it? And of that already tiny population, how many would care about an SACD?

    Yes, it would be a great title, but one can understand why, from a business standpoint, that ain't gonna happen.
     
  20. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    The fact that would be in SACD and features 400 musicians should make it marketable. (I think you also underestimate the popularity of Kubelik and Gurrelieder. The reason there are so few recordings of it and its infrequently performed is because of the cost behind paying 400 people.)

    Labels are quickly going to reach the point that they saturate the "main stream" market. As I said before, we had no less than 3 Mahler 3s released on SACD in the last year alone.
     

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