CES 2003: Groove Note, Crest National, Halcro and Eggleston Works Reception

CES: A reception hosted by Groove Note Records, Crest National, Halcro and Eggleston Works was held within the Halcro rooms at the San Remo Hotel, Las Vegas on Saturday night (12th January). The reception featured a presentation by Groove Note Records owner Ying Tang as well as brief comments by Bob Freedman, Senior Vice President of Technical Operations at Crest National and David Kawakami, Super Audio CD Project Director for North America. Also on hand at the event were Philip O’Hanlon from Halcro, Ed Meitner from EMM Labs as well as officials from Eggleston Works which provided the speakers for the Halcro Stereo sound room mentioned in our earlier write up (see web link below).

Sales Are Up at Groove Note Records
First up were some comments from Ying Tan, owner of Groove Note Records. Groove Note has released a series of CDs, SACDs and Vinyl LP pressings of artists including Jacintha, Eden Atwood, Anthony Wilson, Bill Cunliffe, Luqman Hamza, Benny Wallace and Jay McShann.

In addition, they recently started issuing titles from the Concord Jazz catalog on Hybrid Stereo SACDs. The first two of these titles: Ray Brown Trio — Soular Energy and L.A. Four — Just Friends were released last week during the CES show.

Tan told us that Groove Note just finished up a very successful year. While volume for the record industry as a whole was down 10% in 2002, Groove Note bucked that trend by doubling their sales in 2002.

Tan also noted that «almost all of this year to year growth is directly attributable to Groove Note’s SACD sales.» He noted that this increase in SACD sales has changed the mix of his overall optical disc sales to 60% Stereo CD and 40% Super Audio CD.

In 2003, Groove Note plans to release «at least 6 Concord Jazz and 2 new Groove Note albums on SACD». The next SACDs we will see from Groove Note will be in March when they plan to release 2 new Concord Jazz Stereo SACDs (The Dolphin by Stan Getz and With Love by Rosemary Clooney) and a new Groove Note Stereo SACD (Jacintha Is Her Name: A Tribute to Julie London). As with their past SACD releases, all 3 of these discs will be supervised by well known audiophile producer Joe Harley.

Turning to the future, Ying Tan told the attendees that he is actively looking for more material to issue on SACD disc. As part of that effort, Tan says he is working on some new licensing deals beyond the one he has with Concord Jazz. If all goes well, he expects to announce these new licensing agreements this summer.

As an interesting story, Tan told us that last month, Eden Atwood’s husband bought her a Multichannel SACD player as a Christmas gift. This enabled Atwood to listen to her Groove Note Bossa Nova album «Waves» in high resolution, Multichannel SACD. According to Ying Tan, since then Atwood says she can no longer listen to the album in Stereo CD mode.

Groove Note Drops Plans for DVD-A Release
At the reception, Ying Tan also revealed that Groove Note has dropped their plans for a DVD Audio release. Up until recently, Tan had been researching the logistics and costs associated with issuing one of the Groove Note albums in DVD Audio format.

While the increased costs over CD and SACD release were a concern, Ying Tan told us the big reason behind the decision was the reaction of his resellers. When he asked them about their interest in Groove Note DVD-A discs, «none of Groove Note’s distributors or key disc dealers expressed any interest at all». So Tan concluded that with no interest in Groove Note DVD-A discs, «why do it at all?»

Crest National Hybrid SACD Replication Line is Up and Running
Next, we heard from Bob Freedman, Senior Vice President of Technical Operations at Crest National. Freedman is the man behind the development and operation of the Hybrid SACD Replication Line at Crest National. According to him, the Hybrid SACD Replication Line went live in December and is now producing Hybrid SACDs for a number of record labels including DMP, Groove Note, Rounder, SFS Media and Universal Music.

Of interest at this event, the first two Hybrid SACDs that Crest National replicated were the first two Concord Jazz albums released at CES by Groove Note. Freedman told the attendees the plant is going well and Crest National is receiving inquiries about Hybrid SACD replication from almost every record label that is now issuing SACDs.

Some Comments from the SACD Project
David Kawakami from the SACD Project talked about the early days of the SACD format. In those days, Sony released a «statement SACD player» (the SCD-1) as part of a high end audio, «top down launch».

One of the things that was needed at that time was some very high quality material to demonstrate the format. Kawakami credited Groove Note as being one of the first audiophile labels to provide the quality SACDs needed to get the format moving.

Kawakami also talked about SACD hardware sales, noting that attaining the 1 Million mark in SACD players and systems sold has increased record company interest in issuing titles on SACD disc. Going forward, he told the attendees they can expect to see SACD playback added to more Sony products.

In response to a question about Car Players with SACD playback, Kawakami indicated that Sony Electronics Japan recently showed a Car SACD player at the Tokyo Audio Show. So we will have to keep an eye out for some of these upcoming SACD products.

Auditioning Some SACDs
Since the reception was held in the two Halcro rooms that were equipped with the Meitner SACD-1000/DAC 6 players, Halcro amps and Eggleston Works and Wilson Audio speakers, Groove Note and Crest National then proceeded to give us a listen to the 2 new Concord Jazz SACDs from Groove Note. Both sounded very nice through the SACD setup at the event and I suspect these two Groove Note SACDs will be making their way into the SACD players of jazz fans very soon.
Bob Freedman from Crest National (Left) and Ying Tan from Groove Note Records (Right)