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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater  

December 17, 2003

Bargain DVD Players - When the news came out about a woman being trampled in a mob of Wal-Mart shoppers getting at some no-name DVD players on sale for only $29.97, readers were shocked - not by the crowd’s brutality (turns out she was faking it anyway), but by the amazingly low price for a DVD player. DVD technology has moved from expensive early-adopter status to a mainstream product faster than any consumer electronics gadget in history. There are over 50 million DVD players in American homes now. The quantity of sales allows for economies of scale in manufacturing and the required lasers which were once in the sci-fi category are now a dime a dozen. The major expenses of the Asian producers of the players now are the fees and licenses to Dolby, DTS and others. The margin is getting so tight that Sharp Electronics, for example, has said they will soon only offer DVD burners and exit the DVD player-only market.

Another result of the explosion of DVD interest is that the software market is finally mature enough for seasonal product, according to the head of Fox Home Entertainment. Thus we are seeing major displays of holiday-themed family DVD packages as we Christmas shop. Among them: A Christmas Story, Christmas with the Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants Christmas, Powerpuff Girls: Twas the Fight Before Christmas, and Teletubbies: Christmas in the Snow, and Jimmy Durante in A Christmas Wish.

Quotes from Recent AES Convention - The 115th convention of the Audio Engineering Society took place recently in NYC. Here are a few interesting quotes from speakers and guests at the audio confab: From James T. Russell, inventor of the optical digital recording process that resulted in the compact disc: “The optical digital technology was a big step in the right direction, but there is so much to record - we need the CD times one thousand in terms of density so that one can store higher fidelity and keep more of this stuff. Top-quality music needs better storage.”

From famed pop record producer Phil Ramone: “ the 70s, with vinyl, we were having to turn over the records, but today I don’t have you for 22 minutes. So how do you make statements that have quality?...When the audience above age 30 goes into the store, they only want it if it’s really good. We are in the communication business. But you have to be young in the sense that you care...also, we all have to come to an agreement regarding the war between SACD and DVD Audio.” Zoe Thrall, GM of The Hit Factory studio in NYC: “It is important to deliver to consumers the best product possible. They don’t know how it’s supposed to sound until we teach them. It’s our job to do that - otherwise, their ears will used to MP3s. We need to give them more value for their dollar. CD prices need to come down, and they should get something more with that package too...some kind of bonus...extra promos, lyrics...I am now seeing that as the analog/digital debate grows obsolete in response to digital technology coming to where it may have caught up to the warm sounds of analog, there is plenty of continuity between the past and the future. ...People who did what they did because they loved it once are still doing it because they love it today...they are excited about the possibilities that the technologies open up for them.”

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