Audio News for March 14, 2006

by | Mar 14, 2006 | Audio News | 0 comments

Sony Announces First Blu-ray Releases – The first of the new Blu-ray high definition DVD features will be available in stores May 23 according to Sony Pictures. They include The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, The Last Waltz and 50 First Dates. The next release is scheduled for June 13 and will include Kung Fu Hustle, Robocop, Species and Terminator.  Other titles coming up are Blackhawk Down and Bridge on the River Kwai. Samsung rather than Sony will be the first to market with a Blu-ray player. Sony Pictures has over 2000 feature films in HDTV plus 2000 of TV series waiting for possible release on Blu-ray.

Amazon Movie Downloads – Amazingly, it looks like it is only a matter of time before downloadable feature films will be offered at the same time as the physical DVD release of the film. Comcast, Google, Yahoo, iTunes and MSN have been close to licensing movie downloads but it appears that is the closest to offering full-length movie downloads as early as next month. At least two major studios are said to be in the partnership to offer digital content on the Net. Some studios already sell movie downloads to Movielink and CinemaNow. How the movies will be sold on Amazon is not yet decided. One suggestion is that the download fee include a credit toward the purchase of the DVD, or that the download is only provided to DVD buyers to watch while they wait for their DVD to arrive in the mail. If the wireless approach is really successful, it may not matter which optical hi-def disc format wins out – both could be ignored.

XM Radio Broadcasting in Surround
– The move to surround sound for the two satellite radio services which we reported here about a year ago has expanded. XM Satellite Radio is now broadcasting 5.1 surround sound using Neural Audio technology on both its classical pops music channel and its freeform music channel (113 & 76). Live music events and special shows are also being carried in surround. The XM receiver must of course have the proper Neural decoder and speakers must be wired up as a surround system. Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer and Yamaha have introduced home audio systems with Neural Audio processing. While there was no specific information on car surround receivers (for the majority of satellite radio’s users), it is expected that by this Spring 50% of surround receivers for auto and home will incorporate Neural Surround – which is also compatible for stereo playback. Neural’s CEO observed that surround sound “enriches the listener’s experience with full envelopment and image detail never before available in traditional broadcast.”  (He is evidently unaware of the surround co-broadcasts back in the quadraphonic era, when two stereo FM stations worked together to present four-channel tapes and discs – one carrying the front channels and the other the surround channels.)

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