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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for August 29, 2001

Universal Music Goes SACD - The world's largest music company, Universal Music Group, has announced that it is throwing its weight behind the Super Audio CD format, intending "to help drive the growth of this high-quality, secure music format, with its many benefits for consumers and recording artists. The objective is to make Super audio CD a standard for the industry." Universal will release SACD titles consisting of both best-selling new releases and catalog. Many will employ multichannel surround capabilities. The company feels that the high resolution of both SACD's stereo and surround sound enables consumers to get as close as possible to the studio master quality experience. UMG president Larry Kenswil stated: "Super Audio CD provides extraordinary resolution and sound quality which truly brings the music to life." He added that SACD "offers a new 'palette' to present our artists' music in more original and dynamic ways."

CD Digital Padlocks Introduced in Europe - So-called "stealth CDs" are being sold, mostly in Europe, by five major record labels. They contain technology somewhat similar to that on most DVDs and VHS tapes - intended to foil attempts to copy the music digitally onto blank CDs or to computer hard drives. The CDs play in most players, though there have been some reports of problems with certain portables and auto units. However, when someone tries to create MP3 files from the CD or burn it into a duplicate CD, the copy will either not work at all or sound so awful as to not be worth listening to.

Warner, EMI, Universal, BMG and Sony are the labels involved in the CD padlock technology. The idea is to provide an impervious barrier against the Internet music free-for-all that CD burners and Napster made popular. One of the methods used to protect CD contents is to disguise the disc's directory of tracks (the TOC) so that copying software can't find the tracks to access and copy. A Charlie Pride CD released in May used this technology but fans complained most of them weren't able to play the CD on their home players. Recording Engineer Kevin Gray says people will find a way around most CD and DVD copy protection.

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