Polyhymnia International and BK Audio Launch European DSD Services

Earlier this week Polyhymnia International has provided an industry update on their new role as the lead player for DSD Field Support Services. The update comes several months after the announcement in August that Sony’s European SACD Field Support Services group would be spun out to two independent firms – Polyhymnia International and a new partnership between BK Audio and Studio LeRoy in the Netherlands.

Sony Europe Spins Out DSD Field Services
This August Sony Europe’s SACD Business Centre headed up by David Walestra announced that it was spinning out their DSD Field Services operation to two commercial firms. The move was very similar to the change we saw recently in the U.S. market where the Sony Super Audio CD Project Field Services operation formed a new commercial operation known as the Super Audio Center headed by the former head of U.S. SACD Field Services Gus Skinas (see article linked below).

In the announcement made in August, Sony Europe’s SACD Business Centre said that “After five years of providing education, technical and operational support to the music industry, Sony Europe has announced the next evolutionary development in its support for SA-CD. With over 2,300 SACD titles released and by the end of this year well over 10 million SACD players in the market, the music industry is now in a position to establish SA-CD on a commercial basis.

To support this development, Sony Europe is establishing its Amsterdam-based European DSD field support function as independent commercial operations. This move will enable the support function to grow in response to significantly increased demand for SA-CD production support services. As part of this process Sony has reached agreement with two organisations – Polyhymnia International and BK Audio (the brainchild of Sony SA-CD engineer, Bastiaan Kuijt) – to extend SA-CD support services to European studios and labels.”

Commenting on the transition, David Walstra, Director, Sony SA-CD Business Centre Europe said that “Whilst Sony’s support for SA-CD remains total and we have an ever-expanding range of SA-CD player models, it is great seeing the European DSD field support function move on to a commercial basis with a greater ability to grow in this fast developing market. Since the start of August, both organisations have received numerous requests for support services and the business model is proving robust. We believe the market for SA-CD production support will grow significantly over the coming 12 months and now we are well positioned to respond to this demand and would encourage other like-minded organisations to invest in DSD and SA-CD production skills.”

Polyhymnia International Takes Lead Role in Transition
The lead player in the European transition of SACD Field Services to a commercial enterprise is Polyhymnia International. This isn’t a big surprise since the staff at Polyhymnia has been very active in the Super Audio CD and DSD field in Europe pretty much from day one of the format. The company was founded by a buy-out of the former Philips Classics Recording Centre in 1988 by several members of the staff of that operation. Since that time, they have recorded, engineered and mastered a number of SACD releases on the PentaTone Classics label as well as other labels including Telarc, BMG Japan and Universal Music.

Leendert van Zanten, a former Sony Europe SACD Field Services engineer, heads up the new Polyhymnia group providing their SACD and DSD Field Services in Europe. The group has taken over the responsibility for the rental and maintenance of DSD production equipment sold and rented by the European SACD Field program. This includes the Sony Sonoma DSD Workstations in that market (again similar to the role the Super Audio Center has in the U.S.). They also provide “a wide range of professional DSD field recording and post-production services formerly provided by Sony’s European SACD Business Centre.”

Polyhymnia notes that “As one of the leading pioneers in DSD recording, Polyhymnia has been involved in the development of many DSD production tools. Polyhymnia currently produces over a hundred SACD productions a year, including classical and jazz multichannel recordings, analog remasterings and multichannel pop mastering.”

Turning to the new SACD and DSD Field Operation at Polyhymnia, the firm notes that Van Zanten’s team provides a number of other DSD and SACD services including:

Rental of DSD recording and postproduction equipment

  • DSD workstations – Sonoma, Pyramix Virtual Studio and Sadie DSD-8
  • Genex GX9048 48 track DSD hard disk recorder
  • Various DSD converters, including EMM Labs Meitner DSD converters, dCS AD-DA converters, Prism AD-DA-DD format converters, and dCS format converters
  • EMM Labs Meitner Switchman pre-amp/surround monitor controllers
  • Sony Scarlet Book Annex D and E reference level meters
  • Complete DSD surround recording systems


  • Assisting with technical problems relating to DSD productions
  • Providing seminars and workshops about the possibilities of the SACD medium

    Studio Services

  • SACD authoring, including playing-time optimisation and level fixes
  • DSD multichannel recording, editing and mastering
  • High-end direct-to-DSD analogue remastering
  • Scarlet Book level check of edited masters and cutting masters
  • Format conversions of any audio source to and from DSD

    Complete SACD Disc Replication package
    Polyhymnia can assist with every step of the production process including DSD recording, mixing, mastering, editing, authoring, artwork design, meta data, formatting of the cutting master tape, and delivery of SACDs.

    Demonstration of the capabilities of the SACD format
    With their extensive field experience and custom-built DSD and SACD equipment, Polyhymnia engineers provide the highest quality sound demonstrations for trade conventions, consumer shows, and PR events.

    SACD and DSD Services from BK Audio and Studio LeRoy
    In addition to the SACD and DSD services provided at Polyhymnia International, European recording artists, record labels and recording engineers will also be able to obtain SACD and DSD services from BK Audio. BK Audio is a new firm, formed in August by Bastiaan Kuijt, a former Sony Europe SACD Field Services engineer. BK Audio has teamed up with Studio LeRoy in Amsterdam which has provided recording and mastering services for a number of releases including several of the highly regarded Challenge Jazz direct to DSD series SACDs.

    BK Audio says that their partnership with Studio LeRoy will enable them to “provide the complete set of SACD production services to labels and studios wanting to create SA-CDs. This will include SA-CD authoring with Trellis encoding if necessary, conversion from high-resolution PCM formats to SA-CD supplemented with a specialist mastering environment.”

    The Spin Offs Are Complete
    Now that both Sony’s U.S. and European DSD and SACD Field Services operations have been “spun out” (as they folks in Silicon Valley like to say) into independent commercial operations, it will be interesting to see how they fare in the world of recording options. We’ll keep an eye on these developments with interest in the months ahead.