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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for May 29, 2002

SACD Uber Alles - At the recent AES convention in Munich, it was announced at the Sony-Philips press conference that one million consumer SACD players have so far been sold, and the prediction for next year is worldwide sales of six million players and 13 million in 2004. One European retail store reported selling more SACD players than CD-only players. Sony has three pressing plants in full operation, but they can only press SACD-layer-only discs; that's why all of Sony's own SACDs are not two-layer hybrids. Sonopress in Germany is the main plant for all other labels. It can press hybrid discs and is doubling its capacity next month to fill the torrent of orders. There is a rumor afoot (and only that) that a major label - probably Universal - plans to cease CD production entirely and only release hybrid stereo and multichannel SACDs. If true this is big news indeed!

DVD-A Theatrical Theater Demos - On the other hand, DVD-A forges ahead with a series of installations and pre-movie music in surround demos at Century Cinemas nationwide. A joint project of Dolby Labs, Warner Music Group, 5.1 Entertainment and the Century Theatres chain, the idea is to introduce a wider audience to the 5.1 surround experience with DVD-Audio. The first movie offering the special pre-show music demo is Star Wars Episode II. A spokesman said the expansion of home theater sales shows that consumers place high value on the surround sound experience they first had in movie theaters. The hope is that they will be even more excited to learn they can bring home to their home theater environment a dynamic new surround experience.

Copy Protection - Useless with the Hi-Res Formats? - A leading Italian researcher in surround sound reproduction says that though SACD is claimed to be "well-protected" from illegal copying* and similar approaches are still being worked out for DVD-Audio, "If You Can Play It, You Can Copy It!" Angelo Farina used a DVD-A disc which included a 44.1K PCM track as well as 96K stereo. He re-sampled the analog outputs of both to 44.1K using an A/D converter and then compared them. He found the digital copy from the high-res layer to be incomparably better than the digital copy made from the standard CD layer. He also found that the availability of high-res commercial recordings on both SACD and DVD-A now permit the illegal distribution of MP3 files via the Internet which are much better quality than those obtainable by ripping standard CDs.

* = supposedly one of the reasons the above-mentioned music company is planning to issue only SACDs rather than standard CDs.

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