Isn't the pressure building for real (new) hi-rez releases by the majors?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Rachael B, Jan 23, 2004.

  1. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Sound & Vision just ran an article about uni players. More low-cost, every-man uni players are on the near horizon. Folks already into the new new formats are already feeling betrayed because the majors behave as refusniks, refusing to release new, current music. Potential adopters ought to be nervous.

    The hardware companies are doing their job fairly well in my mind, atleast within' the context of the limitations that have, unfortuneatly, been set in their way from the content providers....analog outputs.

    The missing piece in the puzzle is the content providers releasing the music. If they don't, this may completely soil their reputations with much of the public....as if their reputations weren't bad enough already! No matter what's in the silly minds of the content providers, they are running out of excuses and plausibility with the public.

    Uni players are going to be cheap and plentiful soon and they basically now refuse to offer satifactory software. First they sabotauged the very lauch of hi-rez audio equipment and now they're sabotauging the very market for the software by defaulting.

    The big five are looking more like fool's fools everyday that goes by.... [​IMG]
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Respectfully, I don’t think that the public as a whole cares at all. Most non-audiophiles with whom I am acquainted basically just think that this is another way to get the public as a whole to buy into something new without a standard—or worse with two standards.

    If the public is angry it is with the existence of both SA-CD and DVD-A and the very strong belief that they both won’t survive. If purchasing a universal player is mentioned, I’ve mostly heard the equivalent of ‘don’t they cost a lot of money?’

    The amount of software available is not on their minds at all.
     
  3. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    Even worse, I think most people who consider themselves audiophiles (myself included) refuse to even consider hi-res without a digital interface. I'm of the opinion that CDs can sound very, very good on a decent system, and that the aggravation of setting up hi-res and waiting for the trickle of releases is not worth the hassle.

    This is not meant to offend those who have become early adopters or who wish to extoll the virtues of hi-res. It can sound great when implemented properly. I just think that if the industry can't get someone like me on board, they have absolutely no hope of getting much of a customer base.

    And due to the increasing concerns over piracy, I can't see a standard digital interface coming about in the near future. As I've said before, my main fear is not that hi-res won't take off; it's that we'll eventually lose redbook CD quality. New-release CDs sound worse than ever, and are usually not mastered to the capability of the format. I know it sounds crazy, but I can see a day when MP3 (or some other lossy formula) becomes the standard quality sold by the studios.

    In my mind, it's all become a marketing game with the studios. If Santana's Supernatural were to come out on hi-res, it would no doubt sound superior to the crappy version released on CD. But it wouldn't be a fair comparison because the CD was not mastered to its full potential.
     
  4. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Good thread Rachael, here are my thoughts:

    1. I have been saying lately that one way out of the maze is to sell ever cheaper universals and create a dual standard on the software side like Dolby Digital and DTS.

    2. I think the upcoming Philips/Harman Kardon car audio players will also help and put pressure for new releases.

    3. As recent Sonopress articles show, the disc production capability for hybrids is growing. That should ease costs and create extra room for a heavier release slate.

    4. I think time is on our side in that this is one shiny high growth area for music labels that are seeing rather substantial sales declines everywhere else.

    The big stumbling block is marketing, and this is probably driven in part by a) poor senior management leadership and b) difficult investment environment from a lack of profits.

    ************************************************

    If I were Sony & Philips I would hold a big press conference at the HiFi show this May and announce the following:

    1. We are stepping up "day and date" releases and will put all major releases out in hybrid form.

    2. We appreciate all the grass roots audiophile support we have received and have decided to thank these great consumers by issuing any further classic titles in hybrid form only. This will allow all fans to enjoy the great performances.

    3. We have reached a deal with AMC/Regal/Loews movie theaters and will be showing a new Super Audio surround demo starring The Rock and several of his favorite special effects. Watch for this 5 minute trailer coming soon to your local cineplex.

    4. We have also decided to discount our royalty rate for the next five years by 10% to allow even more independent labels to enjoy the benefits of higher definition sound.

    5. Sony's Qualia brand has reached an agreement to include a new special version of Ed Meitner's latest generation chips in its new Super Audio flagship-the 007. Six early samples of the premiere product will be initially shown and reviewed by the major high end and mainstream HT magazines.

    Boy I can dream can't I. [​IMG]
     
  5. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    But it's hard to market something that has fundamental flaws without being less than honest or even outright deceptive.

    The marketing of CDs, other than the "perfect sound forever" mantra, was fairly honest. They could be promoted as extremely durable, portable, programmable, etc. and all those qualites were absolutely apparent to everyone and indisputable. With hi-res on the other hand, to achieve the ONLY benefit over CD (potentially improved sound quality) the marketing people have to avoid mentioning that you need more cables, you will probably have difficulty with bass management and time alignment, and most of your ancillary equipment might not be good enough to notice a difference. Plus, of course, the discs cost more and new releases are miniscule.

    I don't see how you can market it with a straight face.
     
  6. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Brian, I frankly feel this is an web-based myth. I have heard great improvements on even the most modest of systems. Look at the DAV90 and other HTIBs, for example. There is a big difference when you go from redbook of say a Norah Jones and then play the Super Audio version.

    The disc prices are coming down but there are a few extra costs involved and the format is young so fewer economies of scale have kicked in. This happens with any new technology, of course. There is also a growth in the rate of title releases. According to David Kawakami, there are 3 new Super Audio titles released every day.
     
  7. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    But as I alluded to, is the better sound a result of the format? My main point is that I am skeptical that every last technological ounce is being squeezed out of the recordings being transferred to redbook CDs.

    As for modest systems producing an improvement, I'd like to hear it. Most modest systems don't have five identical full-range speakers (necessitating bass management) equally spaced from the listener (necessitating time alignment). Nor do they have S/N ratios over 95 dB, the limits already surpassed by CD. So the increased resolution gained by hi-res is often negated by other limitations.
     
  8. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    You seem to be conflicting your own opinion.

    When people have the opinion that the CD sounds better than the SACD, you state that you need a "high resolution stereo system" - but claim that a "modest system" is all that is needed to hear "great improvements" in sound quality with SACD.
     
  9. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Lew and are on the very same page here.

    "Much of the public" couldn't care less about hi-resolution audio, regardless of who is (or isn't) releasing it.

    Many folks simply want to download their 99-cent, low-rez, compressed audio files for their iPods, or they want to drive up to Best Buy, run in and grab the latest Brittney Spears or Creed album, rip the thing open and slide it into the CD deck of their Honda Civic (no offense to fans of Ms. Spears, Creed or Civics, [​IMG]). The typical music consumer isn't reading Sound & Vision, isn't interested in the resolution of their music, and is certainly not going to adopt a format that doesn't work with existing hardware and that is pricier than standard CDs.

    The lack of "satisfactory [high-rez] software" isn't the issue for the typical person shopping for music. They have all the low-rez software they could ever want. It's only going to be an issue for hi-rez adopters, and those folks are never going to be more than a small fraction of the music-buying market.
     
  10. Michael St. Clair

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    While I love the Flaming Lips disc, those two-fer releases don't make sense for the studios. One copy to keep, one to give to your Redbook friend. This could decrease total sales.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    [​IMG] I can say for certain that I'm a fan of those Hondas. [​IMG]
     
  12. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    :wink:
     
  13. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Sure, you can listen to a few XRCDs which arguably squeeze out every last bit of detail from redbook and compare with the same titles on SACD. I have used some of the FIM discs that have a state of the art recording chain and the differences are still there. Newer SACDs do employ better mastering, but you have to remember that having 64x more information makes a difference in terms of detail and a slew of other things. [​IMG]
     
  14. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    I don't accept this form of thinking. To me it is the trap of low expectations. Why should serious music fans accept the result of millions of audio-uneducated shmoes?

    Just because most people would be happy with a Honda Accord (a great car by the way), should we stop producing Lexus cars?

    What about all the great technology that has been developed by Lexus & other innovative companies and filtered down into more affordable products?

    Whose to say that SACD/DVDA costs won't drop significantly with more volume making them as affordable as CDs are today, maybe cheaper?

    I say give everyone an ability to trade up and get better quality and educate the non-believers along the way. [​IMG]
     
  15. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Nope, I drive an Acura (and if I had waited a couple of years, I’d have a different sound system [​IMG]). But not producing a car line is a far different thing than expecting that a record company is going to substantially increase their software availability in the more expensive format.
     
  16. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    It's not an issue of expectations, which you are entitled to set as high as you like; it's an issue of which demands drive the marketplace.

    Record companies are struggling to stay afloat amidst a variety of market pressures, including slagging redbook sales and other realities of the modern music marketplace. They're looking at new models of distributing what folks want, and that appears to be, increasingly, inexpensive, single-song, low-resolution downloads and traditional redbook CDs, not hi-rez discs.

    I think you should set your expectations as high as you see fit, but you should temper that with an understanding of market reality. You have every right to expect the folks that are supporting the hi-rez formats to make abundant, excellent, desirable software available, you just have to be realistic.

    And, by the way, there are many "serious music fans" who could care less about hi-rez audio.

    Finally, your car analogy doesn't fit, because no one is suggesting that the hi-rez formats ought not continue to be supported. I'm suggesting that the bulk of the music-buying public has no interest in seeing hi-rez flourish.
     
  17. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    The Sound & Vision article may be the height of hi-rez promotion? It may never get any better than this? Sound & Vision is proably the most widely read rag out there? I don't know for certain. The release of this last issue sure doesn't coincide with any outpouring of new software...REAL BAD MARKETING, me thinks! Not to mention the stille fairly recent Rolling Stone issue. The content "deny-ers"[​IMG] are blowing it big time. Right now is their best chance.

    Saying the public doesn't care isn't a good argument here despite the fact that generally they don't. I say this because hybrid SA-CD and the legendary [​IMG], maybe possible hybrid DVD-A are formats that could serve all intrests. If many folks choose to continue using 1989 Magnavox CD players, so be it. They can slip their hybrid (SA-CD) discs into their relic player and oooh la la, it plays.
    People who want high quality stereo or M/C can take the same disc and get what they want out of it.

    Also, you don't have to have the highest quality stereo system possible to get the benefits of Super Audio. I've put players on my lesser equipment and been pleased. It's a benefit just to have a disc that will do more than you're able to do with it presently anyway.
     
  18. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Rachael, if there were a single hi-rez hybrid format, with 100% compatibility with all existing CD players, then of course it's an entirely different issue.

    But, again, that's not our current market reality. Something to work for, I guess.
     
  19. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    What Angelo wrote.
     
  20. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Brian P: Supernatural came out on dvd-audio almost two months ago.

    And Outkast's Stankonia arrived on dvd-audio about the same time too.

    LJ
     

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