Specs for Ultra HD Blu-ray – Licensing for the next-generation optical disc format will begin mid-year. The goal is to deliver the best quality video and audio to consumers. There will be two varieties: 66GB dual layer and 100GB triple layer with data-transfer rates up to 108 Mbps from the 66GB disc and 128 Mbps from the 100GB Blu-ray. The pixel resolution will be up to 3840×2160, HEVC encoding will be used, and the new players will have HDMI 2.0 outputs with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. The current laser system will be tuned for the new higher-density disc structure. The players will be able to read all three Blu-ray formats (hopefully most will also read standard DVDs). Other mandatory features: support for high dynamic range, HDR info encoded as metadata (which can be played on non-HDR displays), supporting frame rates of up to 60 fps and color gamuts up to BT.2020 with 10-bit resolution. They must also decode all current audio formats and provide passthru. Optional features with manufacturers will be support for Dolby Vision, Philips HDR, CD and SACD playback, Digital Bridge (which lets the player copy Ultra HD Blu-ray content from a disc to internal storage). Studios can choose what they want to put on the discs. The official logo has not yet been finalized, and actual product may not be in the market until CES 2016.
UHD Alliance Introduced at CES – A new industry association was founded at the recent CES with the purpose to promote and coordinate the development of UHD standards beyond pixel resolution among content creators, consumer electronics companies, and content providers. They want to standardize higher dynamic range, wider color gamut, gamma and other other elements of the UHD ecosystem than just enhanced spatial resolution. There’s even a UHD Alliance certification under development, applying to both displays and content. Now we may start to see what UHD can really do, with the next generation of displays. Samsung, along with Fox, seems to be leading the charge, but many top companies have confirmed their membership in the Alliance already.
Harman Acquires SM Pro Audio – Harman has acquired the Australia-based SM Pro Audio as part of the Harman Professional Division, as an innovative hub for a wide range of pro audio and musical instrument technologies. They already envision SM Pro Audio technologies as benefiting Soundcraft and Studer mixers, dbx signal processing, AKG transducers, and more.
Esa-Pekka Salonen Named NY Philharmonic Composer-in-Residence – His residency opens this Fall with conductor Alan Gilbert doing the NYC premiere of Salonen’s LA Variations. Salonen will lead the orchestra in Messiaen’s Turangalila-Symphonie as part of the Philharmonic’s Messiaen Week.