AES 117: Super Audio Center Launch and 24 Track Sonoma Debut at AES Conference

October 24, in SACD News

This week’s Audio Engineering Society Convention at San Francisco’s Moscone Center will see the formal launch of the new Super Audio Center in Boulder, Colorado. The Super Audio Center or “SAC” for short will be helmed by long-time DSD and SACD expert Gus Skinas. Also debuting at this week’s conference, which starts on Thursday, is the long-awaited 24 Track Sonoma DSD workstation.

In addition to these developments, I’ve learned that the Super Audio Center will be managing, selling and renting the existing 8 Channel Sonoma DSD Workstations as well as selling the 4th Generation DSD Converters from Ed Meitner’s EMM Labs in the U.S. and Europe. Here’s the story on the new Super Audio Center firm, the new 24 Track Sonoma DSD Workstation and the balance of their announcements.

Super Audio Center Launch
In recent weeks, High Fidelity Review readers have probably noticed that some new Surround Sound SACD titles – including The Marvin Gaye Collection on Motown (Motown B0003502-36) – have carried the notation that they were authored and mastered at the Super Audio Center in Boulder, Colorado. It will be headed by industry veteran Gus Skinas who has been the Director of Field Operations for the Sony Super Audio CD Project in the U.S. and started the first SACD production office in Boulder, Colorado.

According to officials at the Super Audio Center (SAC), the new operation will “offer a comprehensive array of support services for SA-CD clientele, including recording and tape transfer, mixing, editing, mastering and authoring for SA-CD projects. The new Super Audio Center will be based in Boulder, Colorado and will work closely with field engineers in both Los Angeles and New York to support remote recording and mix sessions wherever they may occur.”

SACD Format Gains Momentum
David Kawakami, Sony America’s Project Director for Super Audio CD, offered his comments on the new Super Audio Center launch and the growth of the SACD format. Kawakami said that

“As the Super Audio CD format continues to gather momentum, a number of new businesses have been spawned. Under Gus’s guidance, this new SA-CD facility will enable us to better address the needs of those artists, producers and music labels who want to issue their music on this exciting, high resolution multi-channel format.”

Kawakami also noted that

“SA-CD compatible products are currently being offered by more than 26 manufacturers, with nearly 120 different models available. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), more than 1.3 million SA-CD albums were shipped in the U.S. in 2003 alone, bringing the total installed base of SA-CD software to over 12 million discs life-to-date. There are now more than 2,500 SA-CD titles in release worldwide, with almost half of them available in multi-channel surround.”

Super Audio Center Takes Over Sonoma Workstation Management & Picks Up Meitner DSD Converters
The Super Audio Center also announced that they will be taking over the management, support, rental and sales of the Sonoma DSD Workstations used in the production of Super Audio CD discs from the Sony Super Audio CD Project. The 8 Channel Sonoma DSD Workstation was the first workstation available to record and edit recording sessions in native Direct Stream Digital (DSD) mode. Skinas will be assisted in the management of the Sonoma Workstations by Dr. Andrew Demery who is also joining the Super Audio Center staff.

In addition to managing the Sonoma Workstations, the Super Audio Center will also begin selling the 4th Generation DSD Converters from Ed Meitner’s EMM Labs in the U.S. and European markets. The Super Audio Center staff said that

“Utilizing converters designed by Ed Meitner of EMM Labs, the Sonoma DSD Workstation is widely regarded as one of the most transparent recording systems marketed today. The new SAC organization will be chartered to not only lease Sonoma products, but distribute them as well, making it a critical factor to ensure SA-CD’s continued growth.”

Tom Jung, the producer of a number of widely praised Stereo and Surround Sound audiophile SACD releases and owner of DMP Records said that

“The Sonoma System, when optically interfaced with Ed Meitner’s DSD converters, is the most musically accurate recording and editing system available today at any price, period.”

24 Track Sonoma Workstation Debuts at AES
In addition, SAC will be using this week’s Audio Engineering Society Conference in San Francisco to formally debut the new 24 Track Sonoma DSD Workstation which will be known as Sonoma 24. The new 24 Track model which was engineered by SAC in cooperation with EMM Labs will allow recording engineers, producers and artists to record and edit 24 tracks of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) audio. The Sonoma will also be available in a 16 Track configuration known as Sonoma 16.

According to Super Audio Center’s Gus Skinas

“Many of our clients have expressed a need to record and edit more DSD channels in order to handle more complex pop music projects. The new Sonoma’s added capacity makes it possible for us to offer up to 24 channels of high quality DSD audio in a package that behaves much like a standard multi-track recorder but delivers powerful editing as well.”

Rock musician and producer Michael Beinhorn added that

“With DSD, we are much closer to achieving the true capability of digital recording. The Sonoma machines are, in my opinion, sonically unsurpassed and have become a staple for my mixdowns. I can only imagine how remarkable the new 24-track Sonoma is.”

The Super Audio Center & the 24 Track Sonoma at AES
The Super Audio Center staff tells me that the new 24 Track Sonoma Workstation will be shown in two locations during the AES Conference this week at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. It will be in the Super Audio CD booth sponsored by Philips (booth #536) as well as in the ATC Loudspeaker Demonstrations (sound room #224). At the latter location, I understand that the 24 Track Sonoma Workstation will actually be used for some DSD master tape playbacks. So that will likely be a popular room at the show.

A New Web Site & Easter Egg
As part of the formal launch of the new Super Audio Center, the firm has started a web site (see link below). The web site lists the services and equipment available through the Super Audio Center along with an email link to Super Audio Center chief Gus Skinas.

SACD offers an added bonus if you visit their new web site and click on the new Super Audio Center logo. It’s an Easter Egg that features a link to a Stereo MP3 music clip by David Elias called “If I Had My Way”. High Fidelity Review readers will recall that Skinas was involved in the recording and authoring of Elias’ excellent direct to DSD, Surround Sound SACD entitled The Window (Sketti Sandwich SSP 3162) last year. If I Had My Way is one of the tracks that will appear on the next David Elias Surround Sound SACD which is due out later this year or in early 2005 and Skinas and Super Audio Center are working on this one as well.

external link: http://www.superaudiocenter.com/

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