A Wish List re: Multichannel SACD & DVD-A

1. That both competing high-rez format camps would realize it is difficult enough for one format to make it commercially (especially in the present perilous economy) let alone two directly competing ones. Sony/Philips should think about some incentives they could offer the TimeWarner camp to drop DVD-A and support the only one of the two formats that offers true high-rez multichannel - SACD. (Don't make the Beta vs. VHS error all over again! Look at the huge success of DVD video when everyone got their act together!)

2. That manufacturers would quickly offer $300-range multichannel SACD players that also play DVD-Video, so that those who would be first-time DVD buyers could painlessly include SACD playback. (Yes, the new $400 Sony is a multichannel SACD but not a DVD-Video deck.)

3. That all multichannel players would henceforth offer a six-channel FireWire digital output or six coaxial outputs for use with new outboard multichannel DACS or complete processors/ receivers for ultimate high end sonic quality. (The software makers' fears of piracy are in danger of scuttling both formats in the high end world.)

4. That the separate LFE channel - fine for movies but inappropriate for music - be dropped in favor of six full-range channels. (See David Chesky's proposal in our July 2000 issue - in the Archives; though he eliminates the center front channel - with which we disagree.)

5. That complete bass management (in both directions) for all multichannel formats - high and low-rez - be included in all multichannel receivers and processors, including entry-level.

6. Since it is obvious that 5.1 surround sound for films is not suitable for SSfM (surround sound for music), and the system of one speaker per channel is limited, replace it with more flexible surround approaches in which the speakers tend to draw less attention to themselves. (B-format Ambisonics, for example, requires only 4 channels and can serve any number of speakers. Thus space is freed up for other mixes, longer playing times, a binaural headphone option or video. DTS and DD are OK, but wouldn't it be a kick to have ultimate multichannel SACD sound with our music DVD videos?)

7. That DVD-A players be designed for use by music-lovers who lack a video display in the same room or do not even own one! (Even the Sony 9000SE requires a monitor display in order to turn off progressive scan to improve SACD-only playback.) A simple front-panel display could handle this.

8. That Sony Music wake up and re-press all their SACD-Only discs as hybrid SACD/CD discs like everyone else.

9. That increased consumer acceptance of SACD outside of the high end - due to its multichannel abilities and lower price of players - will eventually bring down the price of SACD software to that of current standard CDs.

- John Sunier

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