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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for June 12, 2002

SACD News - Sony and Philips announced that the BMG Record Label Group (RCA Victor, Bluebird, Arista etc.) will soon release their first SACD discs outside of the Hong Kong market (see our two reviews of Hong Kong SACDs this issue's Hi-Res section). ABKCO Records has announced that over the next few months they will release 22 early Rolling Stones albums in stereo SACD format. (It appears the decision was made not to re-mix these classics to 5.1 surround due to complaints about some 5.1 re-mixes - such as the recent Queen DVD-A - and to the fact that the audience for these reissues will be mostly audio buff Baby Boomers who grew up with stereo anyway. It has been proved both logistically and politically difficult to create a 5.1 mix from original stereo elements - one that pleases all those involved in the original, as well as the final purchaser.)

An increasing number of European and American recording studios are gearing up with DSD production tools for mastering SACD titles. At the recent AES Convention Philips announced that DSD Interchange File Format (DSDIFF) was now the standard format for the interchange of DSD and DST (encoded DSD). Encoding is done with a fast software process using Windows platforms and an intuitive user interface. Sony exhibited D-MAP - a system of compact DSD signal processing modules that provide access to top-quality DSD audio processing for functions such as gain, EQ, dynamics and metering. Thus engineers will be freed of having to convert to high-sampling-rate PCM and then back to DSD in order to accomplish some of those processes. Many studios are looking at the possibility of standardizing on DSD as the recording and mastering medium for all their work - not just SACD production. Joe Bruins, of Philips Intellectual Property & Standards, states that SACD may well reach critical mass as a viable recording format before the end of this year. He reported that its introduction is following a similar pattern to that of CD except the timescales are compressed.

The Absolute Sound Enjoys The Music - has announced the addition of The Absolute Sound's web site to their stable of audiophile publications which already includes AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, Hi-Fi News, Positive Feedback and others. Enjoy the Music also reviews components and covers more international audio exhibitions than any other site - 50 show reports to date.

Audiobook Technology Explored - The Consumer Electronics Association and Audio Publishers Association are holding an Audiobook Solutions Conference next month in Detroit (July 10) to examine the relationship between the increasingly popular audiobooks and the consumer electronic products used to listen to them. CDs and MP3 are beginning to replace the familiar cassette for book readings and dramatizations, and there is a need for the playback devices to hold their place - in the same way most DVD players will resume a movie at the point one last stopped watching it. To avoid fast-forwarding thru long segments, electronic bookmarking needs to be implemented in both audiobook media and players.

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