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Audio News for June 28, 2013

Tacet to Release Pure Audio Blu-rays; New Group to Drive Awareness of Pure Audio Format; 4K/UHD Interest Causing a Rethinking of OLED Displays; PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360?

Published on June 28, 2013

Tacet to Release Pure Audio Blu-rays – Germany’s Tacet label has announced that this fall they will begin releasing Pure Audio Blu-ray discs in hi-res 5.1 multichannel lossless form, joining Naxos, 2L, Sono Luminus and a couple others in this format. Among the first 20 discs will be several acquisitions from out-of-print publications, new recordings in Tacet Real Surround Sound, and it is planned to eventually release their entire Real Surround Sound catalog (offered so far on SACD and DVD-Audio) on Blu-ray. The series places one of the instruments in, say, a quintet, at one of the five speakers/channels in a typical surround setup, on occasion even moving the performers when appropriate.

New Group to Drive Awareness of Pure Audio Format – The High Fidelity Pure Audio Group (HFPAG) has been founded to use marketing and promotional activity regarding the benefits of the high fidelity Pure Audio (audio-only Blu-rays) format. Created from studio masters recorded at a minimum of 24-bit/96K, the Blu-ray discs—which can be played on any Blu-ray player—are encoded in three hi-res lossless formats: uncompressed PCM (up to 192K), DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Compatibility with any Blu-ray deck or PS3 unit gives Pure Audio an advantage over SACD, since the penetration of Blu-ray decks is higher than SACD players. Most discs will also have an option to download the same content as MP3 or lossless FLAC files, allowing the music to be enjoyed across virtually all platforms and players. Universal Music Group is at the forefront of this initiative, but it has support from Warner Bros, B & O, Dolby, DTS, Bose and more. A number of Universal titles have already been released on Blu-ray in France, and rollout will continue in other areas thru this year. The proportion of music consumers who said they were fairly/very/extremely likely to purchase a hi-res audio product within six months was 32% in the U.S. and 21% in the UK, according to Universal. It looks at though the European releases, at least, are using a packaging that is larger than standard CD jewel boxes but not as large as video Blu-rays, a good idea.

4K/UHD Interest Causing a Rethinking of OLED Displays – Sources close to Samsung, set to launch its first 55-inch OLED TV in a couple weeks, six months behind LG, say the company may put OLED on the back burner while it concentrates on 4K TV using existing LED LCD displays. Manufacture of OLED screens runs about five times that of LCDs (9 out of 10 panels produced get junked), and there are low production yields on the cost of the panels, and therefore on profitability.  The relative success of UHD has taken manufacturers somewhat by surprise. But while the January CES showed 85-inch, 95-inch and 110-inch UHD models, Samsung has since canned larger screens, concentrating on their 55-inch and 65-inch models, citing low demand for the high-priced enormous screens. One market research group estimates UHD TVs could sell as many as 2.3 million units worldwide this year, even though there is little programming available.  At the same time, LG suggests it will ship as many as 700,000 of their OLED panels in 2014, and by 2015 OLED will account for around 1% of the worldwide TV market.

PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360? – Many people not into computer gaming at all are part of cord-cutting households who use their gaming systems to access a plethora of streaming video applications in their home theater. You can save adding of additional media streaming set-top boxes and there will be markdowns in the price of both consoles over the next year as new models hit the market. Weight which brand of console will give you the most bang for the buck when it comes to application user interface, stability and startup speed.

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