SACD Releases on Increase – The number of new SACD titles releases each year has remained around the 500 mark for some years, putting a lie to the observations one sees around the Internet and in print publications that “SACD is dead.” The Australian SACD-cataloging site sa-cd.net isn’t able to list every single SACD release around the world, but their totals show 557 SACDs for 2006, 545 for 2007, 462 for 2008, and they expect a total of over 600 new releases for 2009. While Naxos has now joined with 2L and AIX in releasing a limited number of pure-audio Blu-ray discs, that special format hasn’t attracted other labels, and a number of European labels have issued their first SACDs in the last few years. Plus several discerning performing artists have released SACDs on their own labels. Considering that Sony has shamefully backed out of any SACD support, the major labels’ bean-counters have given up on the format, and the world is still in a serious economic crunch, Super Audio has remained alive and well. Buy more SACDs and keep it going!
Battery Power Supplies for Hi-End Audio – Red Wine Audio has unveiled its Black Lightning high-current battery power supplies to replace the inferior stock AC adaptors used to power audio components. The idea is to take audio components entirely off the power grid, eliminating the noise and grunge found to varying degree on all AC power lines. Feeding components “DC-Direct” bypasses the shortcomings of AC-to-DC conversion. Sonic improvements are said to result in more accurate tone, blacker backgrounds, better dynamics and bass, a larger soundstage and more holographic imaging. More than one component may be powered from a single Black Lightning unit. Red Wine can even modify some audio components to bypass their internal power supplies to be fed directly from the DC. The units are available in two series, starting at $625. [www.redwineaudio.com]
Blu-ray Trade-In Offer for HD DVDs – Warner Bros. has launched a program designed for those stuck with HD DVD titles to swap them for new Blu-ray versions of the same titles. At the special website – Red2Blu – there is a list of 128 titles which were on the now-dead format and are currently available on Blu-ray instead. Users get to keep the old HD DVD, but are asked to send in its cover artwork together with $11.90 to cover the swapping of the title plus postage. HDScape charges $11.95 for a similar deal, and Criterion Collections has a similar deal but they want the original HD DVD disc plus $20. These are supposed to be deals? It is more than the added cost difference of new Blu-rays (and especially of used ones on Amazon and elsewhere). We think Warners’ effort is a paltry one to cover their wrongly supporting an inferior, greed-motivated technology which was the likes of VHS, 8-track, RCA SelectaVision and dcc.
Safe Listening Promoted by CEA & ASHA – The Consumer Electronics Association collaborates with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in promoting safe listening habits with portable entertainment devices and headphones or earbuds. ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association of more than 130,000 speech-language pathologists, audiologists, speech and hearing scientists. Their joint campaign elements include radio PSAs and a brochure on the safe useage of such devices. Various children’s musicians are promoting safe listening for children of all ages. ASHA has a “Listen To Your Buds” public education campaign teaching young children safe listening habits protecting their hearing from wrongful use of personal audio technology. CEA and ASHA recommend some simple steps for all users of personal entertainment devices: Set the volume to the lowest level where music can be heard comfortably and clearly, and once set, leave it there. Check if the player has a volume limiter allowing you to set a safe listening level by establishing a maximum level. Finally, limit the listening time to give your hearing “quiet breaks.”