HE 2004: Sony Delivers Super Audio CD Progress Report [HFR]

HE 2004: Officials from Sony’s Super Audio CD Project used this week’s Home Entertainment 2004 event to provide an update on the format’s progress to date. Included in the update was news of some key upcoming SACD titles slated for release later this year and some new SACD hardware announcements.

Sales of SACD Albums
As evidence of the continuing strong sales of the SACD format, Sony cited the Rolling Stones Remastered Series (over 2.2 Million units sold) and the recent Sam Cooke Remastered Series (300,000 units sold) on ABKCO Records as well as the 30th Anniversary Edition of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon from EMI/Capitol Records which is now at 800,000 units sold.

Also cited was the recently announced RIAA report by Price Waterhouse Coopers which shows over 1.3 million Super Audio CDs shipped in the U.S. market during 2003. High Fidelity Review readers will remember our recent article on this study and a second RIAA study of consumer impressions of music formats purchased. The units shipped study showed SACDs outpacing DVD-A units shipped by a large margin, while the consumer phone survey showed that consumers said they purchased more music on DVD Audio discs than any other format besides the Compact Disc (see link below).

In terms of releases, the SACD Project officals report that there are now over 2,000 Super Audio CDs on the market worldwide (almost half of which are reported to be Surround Sound SACDs) and that there are an additional 100 SACDs per month now being released each month. The SACD Progress Report cites upcoming titles from labels including Artemis Classics, Audio Fidelity, Chandos, Chesky, Concord, Domo, Groove Note, Harmonia Mundi, First Impression Music, Fantasy, Koch Records, Mobile Fidelity, PentaTone Classics, Songlines, Rounder, and Telarc as evidence of continued interest in the format, particularly in the audiophile, classical and jazz markets which continue to make up the core of the SACD catalog.

ABKCO Records Announces SACDs from the Animals & Herman’s Hermits
Since their success with the Rolling Stones Remastered Series, ABKCO Records officials indicate that they planned to continue to remaster and reissue the balance of their key catalog albums in Hybrid SACD format. At HE 2004, ABKCO made good on that promise by announcing plans to release “Greatest Hits” albums by both the Animals and Herman’s Hermits as SACDs due out in mid summer.

The announcement of the Animals and Herman’s Hermits titles was a bit of a surprise since most of the buzz in the industry has been on rumors of ABKCO’s remastering of some of their Cameo/Parkway catalog titles for release on Hybrid SACD discs. In fact, one web site even carried an interview with the person preumably selected by ABKCO to do the liner notes for this series. (I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see if the Cameo/Parkway SACDs from ABKCO might be the next out of the gate after the Animals and Herman’s Hermits SACDs.)

Additional SACDs Coming from Sony Music
Another key bit of news in the SACD Update from HE 2004 concerned Sony Music and their SACD plans. It was noted that the most recent Sony Music Surround SACDs have included the Bob Dylan Remastered Series, two catalog SACDs from James Taylor (Dad Loves His Work and Flag) as well as more recent titles from Barbra Streisand (The Movie Album), The Thorns (The Thorns) and David Bowie (Reality).

According to officials at the SACD Project, the people in the Dylan camp have been “very pleased” with the success of the Dylan Remastered Series and have green lighted the release of several more Super Audio CDs from Dylan’s catalog. In addition to the additional Dylan titles, Sony Music has also indicated plans to release SACDs by the Indigo Girls and David Sanchez.

Universal Music Group & the Moody Blues
Last week, the Universal Music Group released Sting’s Brand New Day on Surround SACD (after prior releases as a DTS 5.1 Music Disc and a DVD-A disc) as well as 4 classical music titles. They also announced plans for 12 more Classical Music SACDs, many of which will be arriving in August.

While this news was mentioned at HE 2004, the really big news this week about Universal Music’s SACD plans actually came from the www.moodies-magazine.com web site that covers the Moody Blues. The web site contains extensive quotes from Andy Street, who works in Universal Music UK’s catalog development operation. Street indicates that the Moody Blues SACDs will feature 5.1 Surround Sound mixes adapted from the group’s original Quadraphonic mixes of the 1970’s and that the series will also include some bonus tracks and previously unreleased songs as well. According to the article, the Moody Blues SACDs will arrive in stores in September. There has been no word from Universal Music in the U.S. about this, but we will certainly keep an eye out for these SACDs as the Fall approaches.

Koch Records Plans 13 Kinks Remastered SACDs
We also learned that Koch Records and their Velvel Records label plan to release 13 of the classic albums by the Kinks on Super Audio CD in the fall. Koch acquired rights to the Kinks material through a purchase of Velvel Records several years ago from former CBS Records chief Walter Yetnikoff.

Koch initially licensed SACD rights to some of the Kinks albums to the Mobile Fidelity label which happens to be distributed to record stores by Koch. Following the lead of labels such as Fantasy and Concord Jazz, Koch has now also elected to issue their own SACDs rather than licensing their catalog material through another label such as Mobile Fidelity.

While we don’t have firm release dates for all 13 of the Kinks SACDs, Koch has announced that the first 5 Super Audio CDs in the series will be available in stores on August 24th. These titles will be:

  • The Kinks – Muswell Hillhillies (Velvel Records VEL-SC-79801)
  • The Kinks – Misfits (Velvel Records VEL-SC-79802)
  • The Kinks – One For The Road (Velvel Records VEL-SC-79803)
  • The Kinks – Give The People What They Want (Velvel Records VEL-SC-79804)
  • The Kinks – Schoolboys In Disgrace (Velvel Records VEL-SC-79805)

    More SACD Players on the Market
    The SACD progress report also talks about additional SACD players coming to market. This includes a new high end SACD player from Cary Audio along with recent entries by TEAC Esoteric and Goldmund in the high end market. The report says there are now 26 audio firms “offering more than 118 Super Audio CD compatible products”.

    At HE 2004, Sony Electronics announced the DAV-LF1, the first in their new “Platinum Series” of the DVD Dream System home theater in a box products. The new product will feature thin front and back wireless speakers designed for wall placement and a DVD Video/CD Audio/Surround Sound Super Audio CD player. The DAV-LF1 is scheduled to be available in September for “around $2,000”.

    The Sony Electronics announcement follows an earlier product announcement in March where they discussed plans to add 2 Surround Sound SACD/CD players (the SCD-CD595 at $149 and the SCDC-2000ES at $399) and 3 Surround Sound SACD/DVD Video/CD players (the DVP-N577SD at $130, the DVP-NC875 at $150 and the DVD-NS975V at $300) to their product line-up this fall. All but two of these planned players (the SCD-CD595 and the DVP-NC875) are single disc players – the other two are 5 disc SACD changers.

    Also coming to market in the weeks ahead are the first Universal DVD Video/Super Audio CD/DVD Audio players from Toshiba. The players will offer both Surround Sound SACD and Surround Sound DVD-A playback, moving away from Toshiba’s previous stance of making DVD-A only players. The new players will include a single disc model: the SD-4960 at $179 as well as a 5 disc changer, the SD-6915, which will sell for $249.