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Why I think DVD-A and SACD music won't take off...

Discussion in 'Music & Music Streaming Services' started by Stuart Wright, May 25, 2002.

  1. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    ..or at least take a very long time to do so...
    DVD players are the biggest selling new technology ever, right?
    Yes, because you can plug a DVD player into your TV and enjoy some of the benefits without spending any more money. I bet the vast majority of DVD player owners watch DVDs in Stereo or Mono through their TV.
    Multi channel audio requires an AV amp, 5 speakers, a sub and lots of cables. Something which simply won't happen in an awful lot of homes. Wives won't allow it. Lack of space in our tiny little houses with fire places and bay windows and 'L' shaped rooms won't allow it. Low disposable income due to low standard of living won't allow it. 'Rip off Britain' factors won't allow it.

    And here's another very good reason from the perspective of a musician. Or ex-musician, I guess would be more accurate.
    Music is supposed to be in stereo beause we have two ears and never stand in amongst the instruments when they are being played. Infact all the amplification (if there is any) points out towards the audience. Musicians in an orchestral line-up are positioned in a semi-cricle facing the conductor and audience. Strictly speaking the only sound in any surround speakers should be the ambiance of the room which would consist of a general mush of music and audience (if there is one) reverberating around the room (if there is one).
    If us purists harp on about watching movies in the aspect ratio the director intended then we are hypocrits if we listen to (originally 2 channel) music in anything other than stereo. And those few DVDs containing multi-channel music (>2) which have specifically mixed that way may be interesting to listen to but are ultimately contrived.I bet if you were to stand in amongst the orchestra during the 1812, it would sound like a horrendous mess. Instruments coming at you from all sides. And certainly not what the author intended.
    Ok so we can re-invent music using 5.1 channels for a terrific surround experience. But how the hell are you going to reproduce it live?
     
  2. MarkB

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    I have the dts Alan Parsons "On Air" album that was recorded and mixed as 5.1 by the man himself back in 1995. This is a good example of how to do multichannel.

    I'm an advocate of multichannel music and I really enjoy it because I find it natural that sounds really do come from all directions. I don’t necessarily listen to music to try and place the instruments in any direction or at a particular position in the 360° sound field; I listen to it as an entity within itself and an integrated whole.

    Multichannel music that is done well is extraordinary. If it is done badly it is terrible.

    Weather or not it takes off now or later I don’t know, but I do not believe that it will fail because more and more media will be presented in multichannel in the (distant) future.

    Mark
     
  3. Squirrel God

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    It's not just the cost of the new amps and speakers etc. It's a new investment entirely.

    I firmly believe that SACD and DVD-Audio will never be more than a specialist technology that sells to a selective audiophile market. The reason? Well, I come at it from a slightly different angle....

    CD is good enough for most people - it's clear, it's crisp, and the disks have longevity. It's no good arguing about the virtues of SACD and DVD-Audio's improved clarity, higher bit rates, etc with the vast majority of people because they're just not interested.

    CD serves these people's purposes very well and they are very happy with it. They're not going to start re-investing in a new format and buying their existing albums again. They already did this when they moved from tape and LP to CD. But when they did this, the leap from an analogue to a digital format was tremendous - it was almost impossible NOT to "upgrade". But now what are we talking about? Well, we're talking about "improved definition of sound" (that most people wouldn't hear anyway), "more channels" (that most people don't care about anyway), "higher disk capacities" (so you can get more on a single disk, so what?) and so on. The leap isn't anywhere near what it was before and it means nothing to people. In fact, let's face it - this vast majority don't even understand this technology. They could cope with analogue - that made sense to them. They kinda understood CD - but now this? All the advantages are technical and full of words that whoosh over their heads.

    And yes, in case you're wondering, I have no intention of changing from CDs either. I understand the benefits but I have no interest in them!
     
  4. Guest

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    Well said Spectre!

    I have been posting along similar lines for some time.

    IMHO the real reasons for high rez multichannel music carriers being pushed on us by the software and hardware companies are these.

    1. Both groups would benefit from the increased revenue as the hapless punters invest in new equipment and replace their favourite CD's.

    2. Making high rez multichannel recordings popular could help fight off the damage done by music downloads. A 6 channel 24/192 album file of say one hour would comprise of 99,532,800 bits! This would take aeons to download and where would you store it!

    There is no musical reason for multichannel. With a good stereo, adventurous studio engineers can still pan sounds around the room if they like.

    I have some 450 cd's and I now listen to them upsampled to 24bit/176.4khz. in stereo.

    If I could ever replace all those CD's with a new format, the cost would be in the region of £7K! Then I'd have to buy a top quality player and additional speakers. Total maybe£10-£12K

    I bet Sony et all would love me to do that.
     
  5. Cool-hand

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    Hello Squirrel God

     
  6. Matt F

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    And even if Mr Average does get an AV amp, 5 speakers and a sub to go with his DVD player then he's going to be more than happy with music DVDs in 5.1 DD or DTS because it will sound brilliant to him and he'll get the picture too. Suggest he upgrades his DVD player to a DVD-A/SACD player for even better sound but no pictures and he'll tell you to bug*er off.
     
  7. Jase

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    Whilst both DVD-Audio & SACD initially may not appeal to more than a specialist market, the universal players, like the Pioneer 747, may go some way to help the formats along.

    You can now pick up dvd audio players fairly cheaply and once manufacturers start to include SACD as well and bring the prices down, I think you´ll see things improve. DVD video players, as with all things, were initially expensive and for the enthusiasts only, but now thanks to low price players there is a mass market.

    Every new player released more or less improves over the one before it, more features, better quality video/audio etc.

    If DVD-Audio & SACD are to succeed they need to be included in all new players from now on (the DVD-Audio camp seem to be a bit more switched on about this).

    Only time will tell.
     
  8. buns

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    I would agree with the view on multichannel......even though I havent had the chance t hear it.

    Should we not addrss the limitations of cd and better them as opposed to trying something totally different? What dont we simply move towards cd music which doesnt leave out all those supposedly 'inaudible' frequencies? After all......any true audiophile will tell you that thats why vinyl will always be better than cd......without any good reason to say this, but i would venture to say that from a sonic view point, vinyl will also beat dvd audio, sacd......unless they make a point of simply making high bandwidth stereo recordings.

    Ad
     
  9. stranger

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    listening to the cd layer of the opus 3 hybrid cd/sacd disc made me realised how good cd can be when mastered properly. lets push for quality instead of putting up with second class cd pressings, i prefer to get the best out of what i've got befoe getting something new. this goes for upgrading too. p.s. yes i can play sacd too.
     
  10. infomatique

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    I also have this album and I agree with you ... it is excellent.
     
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    I agree with what Squirrel said about the reasons why this wont take off.
    However, I would have to argue that not all music sounds better in stereo, I guess this is true with more traditional styles such as classical and rock n roll, but a lot of the 'new' music I like to listen to sounds much better with a multi-channel mix, indeed it is created with this in mind - I am thinking of bands like Orbital whose The Altogether album sounds fantastic in 5.1, much better than in stereo.
     
  12. Squirrel God

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    That's a very good example actually, because it reminds me that technology is best not when we try to replicate something we can already do (i.e. re-mix stuff in multi-channel that was originally stereo), but when we invent something new to take full advantage of the technology (i.e. new musical "experiences"). As Marshall McLuhan pointed out technology usually evolves into something completely different to its original intentions. Ambient tunes in 5.1 - now that sounds like it might work!

    Unfortunately, it doesn't help much with the original argument. How many people are going to buy a complete multi-channel hi-fi set up to listen to ambient tunes? Once again, it's specialist appeal all the way! ;)
     
  13. Rachael Bitchlist

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    I used to think both formats would fail but now I think SACD/CD hybrid discs have a chance. You can have 3 useful tracks for all occasions.
     
  14. Dubbing Mixer

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    I agree with Spectre about DVD-A and SACD but I think there are very good reasons for multi-channel music.

    1) The same arguments as film apply to a hard centre.

    2) Used sensitively, surround channels enhance the sense of 'being there' even for purist classical recordings.

    3) The creative possibillities for avant garde, dance and rock are just starting to be explored.

    But, the average punter wants pictures too. I wrote a paper for a production house 25years ago suggesting it would become almost impossible to sell music without pictures. I'm only surprised it's taken so long. Whether the pictures are performance, 'pop videos' or just wallpaper they add to the experience.If you don't want them, don't watch them.

    There is no technical reason why all audio players aimed at the domestic market can't be DVD based. Once they are, Why bother with CDs? Mr Average doesn't care about the technology providing the disks play on a walkman, in the car and under the telly with pictures.
     
  15. paiger

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    I have to agree about multi channel music. I hear a lot of people banging on about listening to CD's with DPL. To me it sounds naff. My system is not high level, basic Sony amp and SACD and Ruark Reference speakers. CD's sound best in 2 channel, preferably without any EQ. If you have to put DSP effects on it to get it to sound good then the equipment is not up to the job.

    I have the SACD demo disc with my new player and although it's entertaining to listen in 5.1, I end up reverting back to 2ch as it's just a cleaner sound. Maybe when I get a better reciever I'll find something I'm missing now.

    S
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

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    Stuart

    I agree with your first point (paragraph), My experience suggests that the people here are the exception, the majority are just using stereo into a TV.

    Re your comments from a musicians perspective, I don't necessarily agree. All the original development work for early stereo was based on a three speaker system (L, C and R), not two as we have today. All the participants agreed it was the prefered way forward. However it proved too difficult to easily engineer into new forma of the day, LPs. LPs were therefore just mono or stereo for some 20 years before Quadraphic came along in the 70s.

    This work was revisited some years later through ambisonics and the people involved went on to develop the excellent TriField algorithm which Meridian licences for its processors. It majors by adding a centre channel to the L and R (with very little to rear and sides).

    TMS from Tag does something similar in that the L and R channels are completely un processed. A centre channel is obtained by DSP, with very little going to the sides and rears, unlike the majority of the 'Yamaha' DSP modes.

    Having said this there is a whole community who swears by 78s in mono. It seems odd until you hear the like of a 78 being played through SE Triode into a horn or Lowther. It can sound sublime. [Don't forget 78s are 'potentially' better than 45s which are better than 33s].

    I share many of you frustrations re the quality of 5.1 music, however there are great examples out there and it is more down to the sound engineer and how he balances a recording. Some like to be in the audience. Some like to be in the orchestra. Both have their supporters. Personally I feel there should be several mixes. We have had the ability on DVDs to have several soundtracks all on the same disc (PCM stereo, DD 2.0, DD 5.1, DTS etc). Why not have alternative music surround mixes? Orchestra vs Audience.

    Using algorithms to take 2 channel recording to 8 channels is always controversial. Most are really bad at this (Hall, Church, Jazz, Stadium etc). Others such as Trifield, Logic 7, TMS and Pro Logic 2 can be quite effective. However there are a whole generation of new mixes being done in discrete multi channel sound coming out. Some fom 70s quadraphonic music (4.0, Holst Planets Previn, Tubular bells etc), other from re mixing of the 24 channel original master tapes. With the right producer they can be very good, however witha few exceptions I still prefer the Stereo equivalaent. I don't think this is a limitation of the format per se however but the inexperrience of the mixing engineer. This will improve with time, hopefully.

    2 channel may not be the 'natural' mix for music. It is just what has been used for many years as it was easy to engineer. Mono recordings have much to offer as well. Personally I am most convinced by recordings that use three front channels for playback. Certainly the 'acoustic' literature seems to favour this approach as well.

    However as you rightly say it might just never take off. This is why I love discs with multiple audio mixes on them. I currently buy DVD A discs although I don't have a DVD A player. They do have DD or DTS tracks that allow them to be played by me now (or PCM tracks for higher quality). If I ever get DVD A then I can take advantage of the better sound at a later date. Is this the same for people who currently use stereo DVDs into the TVs now but in the future, when say more money becomes available / wife given in etc, add the 5.1 capabilities to their system?

    Are DVD A and SACD a specialist market? In my view yes. Wild claims are made for their capabilities, most are exagerated at best as any owner of Meridian, Audio synthesis, DCS, or Linn CD equipment will vouch for but what is DVD. DVD is Digital Versatile Disc (not video). It might be most popular with video on it but the whole reason behind it was to provide a flexible format that could provide software to both the 'enthusiast' as well as joe bloggs in the street.

    Players like the 747 will help this divide greatly IMHO. It then just doesn't matter in what format you buy your software on.

    What do I prefer? I am a stereo guy but that doesn't stop me enjoying multi channel as well.The thing that most interests me is HQ stereo discs. To date some of the best have been SAD (24 bit / 96Khz PCM) on bog standard DVDs. However few were made but EVERYONE could play them. An own goal I think?

    Interesting thread.
     
  17. gringottsdirect

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    Most people are happy with the sound of their CDs.
    For some they prefer vinyl, despite the crackles, a smoother cleaner sound is possible.
    SACD and DVD-A in the future can offer vinyl quality with CD convenience, the analogue enthusiasts should be happier.
    I see SACD creeping into our homes within a normal CD purchase. The hybrid disc will be bought for the music content as now, and Sony players, be they DVD or CD will play the SACD layer as an option. Likewise Philips and others.
    I can't see any future for SACD if the record companies try to charge a premium for the discs.
    If I buy the Pink album or latest Eminem, and find an SACD layer I might be curious to investigate, by making sure my next affordable player is SACD capable, and that's how it will succeed.
    Paying more for SACD is a non-starter.
    As for DVD-A, in the words of Sony ... "we think it will go away...", they would say that anyway, of course.
     
  18. Rachael Bitchlist

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    All the 5.1 mixes, SACD & DVD-A, that I've heard and liked had one thing in common, they were rather 3.1 sounding. I like the realistic sound. Playing the sound board doesn't intrest me as much as playing sax or guitar. I think SACD has a huge advantage over DVD-A. It has proper, just like CD, ergonomics. You have to turn on a telly to play many DVD-A discs. That should be changed! I'll embrace DVD-A more when they make a player to my likings. It's my belief the software standards are too loose, like DVD-V's are too, IMO. There are stille too many disc/player incompatiability issues too. The only SACD compatibility issue I've heard of are a few with the 733/47A/747 regarding a couple of Sony discs.

    My Panasonic RP91 won't play Boz Scaggs' DIG. It didn't use to play Aaron Neville's DEVOUTION until I upgraded the firmware. I know there are several other problem titles that won't play in all players.

    DVD-A is losing the ergonomics war. The only thing I'd change about SACD would be to add a scroll button, like MD has, to read out the title across the readout on command. So far, I like SACD better but DVD-A could come in from the cold? I think it has the potential to be better than SACD, but it's not there yet, for me.
     
  19. Guest

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    Hi All

    I purchased a CD player not long after they came out and fell in love with this medium. My CD collection is now reasonbly large and I still love it.

    But, done correctly a surround mix in DVD-A adds yet another dimension. I sincerily hope this format and SACD takes of.

    I wonder how audiophiles reacted when stereo was introduced?

    Regards John:p
     
  20. Ian J

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    With great pleasure as stereo was a huge improvement on mono. In those there was no manipulation of sounds. The band (or whatever) went into the studio and all sat in the same positions that they would on stage to be recorded.

    In the mid sixties I went from the traditional mono radiogram to stereo separates with Garrard turntable, Rogers Cadet valve amp and Wharfedale Super Linton speakers.

    The difference was like going from 20 year old Mini to modern Bentley.
     
  21. Guest

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    Hi Ian

    While I am a little young to remember Mono, I feel multichannel adds to soundstounding etc just as the introduction of stereo.

    I think Bela Flecks "Blue Grass sessions" show just what can be managed from a good surround mix.

    Surround mixes are only in their early days yet. Just as the Beatles and other groups of the sixties learned to use a stereo mix and moved music on to another level, so I beleive the surround mix will mature.

    Though I have no first hand knowlege about the introduction of stereo, one wonders if some would have resisted its introduction, but of course now its the norm.

    Regards John:eek:
     
  22. jGrahamD

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    There are several high density DVD formats in development that would easily allow SACD and video, even HDTV on one disk. I can't see SACD surviving for long. I doubt I could distinguish SACD from DTS.

    I do think surround adds something to music. It's very immersive to hear somebody cough behind you! Seriously, the ambience does add something. Though it's not realistic to sit amongst the orchestra, wouldn't it be nice to be able to do so? You could argue that it's not realistic to have an orchestra in your living room anyway.

    I have yet to hear for myself what Pro Logic II or Circle Surround II do to normal stereo sources. That's another technology that might impede the popularity of SACD.
     
  23. Reiner

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    Interesting topic and here are my two cents worth:

    The idea behind DVD-A and SACD is perhaps good but Sony nearly made a mistake to aim SACD at the high-end market only. with literally no success, quickly introducing lower priced players and not to forget, multichannel option as earlier SACD were stereo only.
    Now you even have some of the reasonable priced DVD players with SACD capabilities.
    As well the idea of using a hybrid to ensure compability with CD players was pretty smart actually but I am not sure if I would by a SACD now thinking "just in case I own a SACD player in a few years".

    DVD-A seems to be pretty slow, delayed by some Norwegian kid who cracked the copy protection (well done, mate), and due to the lack of availibility of SW titles though lately we can see some improvement here.
    I also heard/read that the recordings seem to outperform SACD but given the early stage of both formats I would not generalize that.


    Multichannel mixes with instruments placed around the listener just sound wrong to me.
    Ambience is ok but then I hardly use the million DSP modes on my amp, i.e. I prefer plain old stereo for music.
    I carefully listended to the famous "Eagles" DTS DVD and a DVD-A demo (both are multichannel) during an exhibition and a few other recordings at different occassions but was less than impressed with what they offered as "surround sound".

    What I do however like is something like the "Computer Animation" on the extra DVD of "The Lawnmower Man" (R1), a Dolby Digital 5.1 video clip with a great soundtrack. Rather than instruments they place effects into the rears and it does sound great.
    Of course this can only be applied to a certain type of music and is not suitable for mainstream recordings.


    As for which format will survive or win? I dunno and agree with the earlier posts that Joe Public couldn't care less while being happy with his CDP or TV+DVD combo.
    For the others ("us") perhaps true universal players are the best option, given that SW for DVD-A and/or SACD will become widely available. At least it will give us a choice.


    However until then I would like to see some improvement in the recording quality rather then new formats or more channels, what's on offer today on pop/rock CDs is actually an insult.
     
  24. Gambit

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    Interesting debate guys, just a few points to add

    With the addition of SACD to Sony's recent line of better DVD player (which can be bought at like £250 on some sites) some people are getting SACD even though they might not want it, they just want the player. this can only help Sony when the revolution comes.

    But I feel compelled to ask do we need these formats? As squirrel God (I think) said, the recordings were made to be heard in two channels, from in front of you, like it would be if you went to a concert. Plus, musical fidelity's Nu-Vista 3DCD makes the 200+ CD's you've spent a life time buying sound just as good as a SACD. if all it takes is one company to get off their arse and make CDs sound as good as this, why aren't the others striving to make theirs sound just as good? Seems like Sony et al are really just after the cash.
    Hooray for upsampling DACs!!!:)
     
  25. paiger

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    A front centre channel adds loads to music reproduction. The rendition of Line them up by James Taylor is a particular example. Wonderful.
     
  26. Cool-hand

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    Remastered But In Stereo

    Written by Jerry Del Colliano

    ABKCO Records will release 22 early Rolling Stones titles in high resolution stereo on the SACD format over the next few months. This marks the first significant offering from a major artist in the on-going format war between Sony and Philip’s SACD media vs. DVD-Audio which is supported by AOL Time-Warner, Matsutista and many other music and equipment companies.

    The 22 titles will include the Stones' first recordings from 1963 through "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!," plus a few compilations, including two-CD sets "Hot Rocks, 1964-1971" and "More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies)." The three-CD "Singles Collection: The London Years" will also be released. The Stones started their own label "Sticky Fingers" and now are on Virgin. The license for these early Stones titles was most likely quite expensive with sources close to AudioRevolution.com reporting similar titles demand $250,000 per album up front for audiophile re-releases.

    By releasing these Stones albums in stereo, ABKCO records avoids the messy and often expensive process of remixing classic songs to surround sound which in this case may be a smart move considering old Rolling Stones records are targeted for Baby Boomers who grew up listening to stereo. SACD has been marketed to older audiophiles while competing audio format, DVD-Audio, has focused more on younger listeners who can play music back in 5.1 surround sound in their home theater systems. Both SACD and DVD-Audio can in fact reproduce stunning high resolution surround but the large majority of the 400 plus SACD titles are remastered in only stereo. DVD-Audio has even fewer overall releases at around 225 with nearly all in 5.1 surround.

    With DVD-Audio doing demonstrations in movie theaters for high resolution in surround sound and SACD landing A-list artists like The Rolling Stones, more mainstream consumers are taking note. At Tower Records on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, the SACD/DVD-Audio section has been moved to the very front of the store to compete directly with the new releases. There is hope that one or both of these high resolution audio formats may work out.

    Source: Billboard.com
     

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