After HD and UHD Comes HD Audio. Or Does It? – Sony sees hi-res audio as a marketing opportunity and the whole consumer audio industry is jumping on it now, especially since we are supposedly going from old-fashioned 1080p HDTV to UHD (NOT 4K!). Hard drive storage is also around 1000 times cheaper than when the first iPods came out, but remember we will still need a huge increase in storage space for those hi-res audio files—especially the 192K and double-DSD ones! We had hi-res audio with the introduction of SACDs and DVD-Audios about 15 years ago—strange this is all just happening now.
Just as the increase in the sampling rates and resolution in video greatly improve the image, the more you have in audio, the wider the dynamic range, subtlety and general fidelity. From 48K/24-bit on up, it’s all hi-res. So why record frequencies that you can’t hear? Because they react against one another and create enhanced reproduction of the lower frequencies. The big change is that hi-res audio is no longer tied to a physical format such as SACD or Pure Audio Blu-ray. You can now download hi-res audio files from the Internet and listen to them either on your high end home system or on lesser mobile devices (if they accept hi-res files, such as the Astell&Kern players and the Sonys that will soon be available.) Never mind that in the noisy environments where such portable devices and headphones are usually used, you won’t be able to tell much difference in the hi-res files.
Big Boxed Sets from Major Labels Multiply – There has been a huge increase in multi-disc boxed sets from various record labels. The New York Times even has a feature article on it, titled “If It All Doesn’t Fit, Build a Bigger Box.” We will be offering three 50-CD sets in January as our free site drawing—from Das Alte Werke, Erato and Teldec Classics. Supposedly the classical music recording industry is collapsing, but small classical labels are very active – we are receiving new SACDs and CDs to review all the time. The big labels are trying to figure out how to make online accessing of their recordings profitable. At the same time, there is a glut of both deluxe and bargain-priced boxed classical CD sets. Decca has issued one of the complete works of Benjamin Britten—65 CDs. Sony has released “Leon Fleisher: The Complete Album Collection” (23 CDs), “Gary Graffman: The Complete RCA and Columbia Collection” (24 CDs); and “Byron Janis: The Complete RCA Album Collection“ (11CDs and a DVD). Around the time Van Cliburn died at age 78, Song/RCA issued “Legendary Van Cliburn: The Complete Album Collection” (28 CDs). Sony also has “Vladimir Horowitz: Live at Carnegie Hall”, a deluxe 41-CD boxed with with a bonus DVD. And there is a 90-CD collection titled “Yo-Yo Ma: 30 Years Outside the Box.” The president of Sony Classical says “It’s true that these are not a volume product, but a certain audience wants them.” He said “It was really over the top, but I stand by it, I love it.”
Kent Nagano Contract at Montreal Extended to 2020 – Kent Nagano will remain as music director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra until 2020, a position has has held since 2006. Before becoming music director, Nagano served two years as an adviser to the orchestra. His previous jobs were at Boston, France, London, Berlin and California. During Nagano’s time at the helm, the orchestra has been able to increase its audience to 1300 subscribers under the age of 34.