Audio News for March 31, 2007

by | Mar 31, 2007 | Audio News | 0 comments

Genesis SACD Release Nixed for North America – Beginning this month, EMI and Virgin Records in Europe are reissuing 14 classic Genesis albums as 5.1 SACDs plus separate DVD Video disc. The hybrid SACDs will have the usual three options of SACD Surround, SACD Stereo and CD Stereo mixes, and the DVDs will contain the whole album mixed in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 96K/24bit 5.1.  Although not spelled out in the news release, it appears the DVDs are not actual videos but a lesser option to hear the surround mixes for those without an SACD player.  Work on remixing and remastering the albums into 5.1 surround began in 2003 and fans of both the band – led by Phil Collins and Tony Banks – and surround sound for music have been waiting patiently for the release, which is tied in with a new Genesis tour beginning in June which will eventually bring the band to the U.S.  The discs are being released four or five at a time, with future releases scheduled for this summer and late 2007 or early 2008.

But – wait for it – here’s the kicker to this announcement: There are no SACDs being released to North America!  The second disc with the DVD will be a standard CD only. This is why most people who even are aware of SACD in North America think it is a failed and obsolete format!  In the rest of the world SACD is holding its own and many independent classical labels are releasing most if not all of their product on hybrid SACD. The format was never promoted or advertised properly in the U.S. and due to poor sales of pop SACD releases it was dropped by all the major labels. The Rolling Stones SACD series sold very successfully – why has EMI banned the SACD releases from North America?  [Aha – this just in: The Genesis titles are distributed in the U.S. by Warner Bros. – not EMI – and Warner supports DVD-Audio rather than SACD. They don’t want to distribute discs using a competing format – this has occurred with other previous international releases.] [See the SACD Petition on our home page.]

The Tape Project Launches – Now we turn to a really obsolete format, at least for consumers: Open reel tape. Renowned mastering engineer Paul Stubblebine, his associate Michael Romanowski, and vacuum tube maven Dan Schmalle of Bottlehead have formed The Tape Project. It’s purpose is to make available to discerning audiophiles a two-channel analog listening experience which comes closer than any currently available to the original analog master tape.  The best way to do that is with a  real-time-duplicated open reel tape at 15 ips (the normal professional speed, rather than the 7 1/2ips of consumer tapes), copied from the original analog master tapes, using refurbished, highly-tweaked open reel decks. The Tape Project is securing the rights to released a small number of extraordinary recordings of a variety of music on 10 1/2 inch 15ips open reel tape.  They feel this results in the most involving experience that has ever come from reproduced music. Their plan is to release about ten titles per year.

The first upcoming titles include albums by Jacqui Nayler, Dave Alvin, slide guitar whiz Roy Rogers, and Malcolm Arnold conducting a program of his own overtures (from Reference Recordings). The tapes will be sold on a subscription basis at $200 each but my be purchased individually for $329. Two reels are required for each album. The recommended playback deck is the Technics RS-1500, which has not been manufactured for some time. The tapes will employ the European IEC EQ rather than the NAB found on most decks in North America. Enhanced head assemblies and associated electronics for the Technics decks (include vacuum tube options) are available from several suppliers. For more information check out their web site.

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