Audio News for August 22, 2008

by | Aug 22, 2008 | Audio News | 0 comments

Hyperion Ceases SACD Releases; Reference Records Begins SACD Series –  Simon Perry, director of Hyperion Records Ltd. in the UK has announced that the label has abandoned the SACD format due to poor sales. At the same time, Reference Records, who had earlier said they were not planning SACD releases but offering their HRx 176.4K stereo PCM files instead, has just released the first of a proposed SACD series with their popular orchestral sampler “Tutti!”  Next in the series will be a Minnesota Orchestra collection titled “Mephisto & Co.,” followed by their first surround sound SACD title. Reference Recordings said that recent technical improvements allow accurate digital transfers of their 176.4K PCM masters to SACD without the sonic degradation that they had feared, and they are happy to make SACDs available to the many fans of the format.

Free TV on Your Phone? – In Japan, China, Korea, and Germany you can tune in free TV broadcasts on your cell phone, but in the U.S. only 3% of Americans watched video on their cell phones last year, and most watch short downloaded clips rather than actual broadcast TV. The shutdown of all full-power analog TV transmitters this coming February is part of the problem, since the phones only receive analog casts, and there are so far no phones in the U.S. capable of receiving DTV broadcasts, though Germany has them.  Engineers are working on overcoming a number of technical problems so people could receive digital terrestrial DTV on their cell phones. Qualcomm, AT&T and Verizon Wireless have created networks for cell phone video, but they cost extra – thus limiting their penetration. Making mobile TV reception free just as terrestrial broadcasts change everything.  The Open Mobile Video Coalition has been formed by U.S. TV broadcasters to provide the possibly $2 billion market advertising-financed TV for cell phones.  They want to create a new wireless standard for this mobile service: ATSC-M/H.  If it goes ahead the next big hurdle will be for the broadcasters to convince carriers to sell TV-capable cell phones.

Impressive Blu-ray Sales for 2008 – Contradicting an earlier report, Home Media Research has found that Blu-ray sales are actually quite solid – up 300% from 2007.  The hi-res movie discs are selling at about 1.14 million a month on average, for a total of about eight million. Andy Parsons, of Pioneer Home Entertainment Group and chair of the Blu-ray Disc Association Promotions Committee, pointed out that the erroneous previous research was done at the time when the demand for Blu-ray was high but supplies were low – companies needed time after the end of the format war to respond to the increased demand.  He also said that we are now at about the same point in the adoption curve for Blu-ray that we were at the end of 1998 in the adoption curve for DVDs.  Shortsighted analysts then were quoted as saying “DVD hardware sales were slow to take off,” and predicted a “long and healthy life ahead for VHS.”

Microsoft Building Blu-ray Into Windows – Microsoft’s new feature pack software for Windows XP, Vista, Server 2003 and 2008 allows users to burn Blu-ray discs without required installation of a third party application.  Mac OSX and Linux are still dependent on third party tools.  The move surprised many since Microsoft backed HD DVD during the format war.

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