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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for May 14, 2003

Apple’s iTunes Paid Downloads Huge Success - In the first week of operation selling music to Mac users Apple reports one million songs sold at 99 cents per track. So far the paid downloads are only available to Mac users who have a high-speed Net connection, iTunes4 software, and perhaps an iPod to take their music with them, but Apple plans to offer the service to PC users who have the PC version of iPod. The size of the catalog is not large at this point because record labels want to see first if this new model of paying for downloaded music really works. About 65 cents of each song goes to the labels in royalties. The new site uses AAC compression instead of MP3. Users report improvements in audio quality, plus the AAC format requires only half the memory used by the same music in MP3 form.

Matrix Sequels To Be Released as IMAX - The two sequels to the big sci-fi hit The Matrix will be released in the 70mm format of IMAX on June 6th and November 5 respectively, and shown in over 35 IMAX theaters in the U.S. This was done with Apollo 13 and Star Wars: Episode 2 earlier, but those IMAX versions came sometime after the release in regular (small screen) theaters. The Matrix Reloaded will be seen shortly after the theatrical release and The Matrix Revolutions will be the first major film to debut in both 35mm and IMAX formats at the same time.

Three DVD-A Labels Announce SACD Releases - Testifying to the continued expansion of the SACD format, three different small DVD-A labels have announced they will be issuing at least some of their future titles on SACD. Classical label Hodie (we’ve reviewed their past releases) said “Due to hugely increasing demand, Hodie have (sic) decided to release its future titles also on SACD.” Jim Mageras of SurroundBy Entertainment, a so-far strictly DVD-A label (not even including a Dolby Digital option on their discs), told AUDIOPHILE AUDITION that they will be producing upcoming hybrid multichannel and stereo SACDs as well as the DVD-As. Finally, the German classical label Tacet (all of whose DVD-As with one-player-per-speaker we have also reviewed here) announced that a few of their albums which originated as all-tube analog open-reel masters will be issued on stereo SACD; but this doesn’t apply to their multichannel digital DVD-As.

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