SACD Takes Center Stage at HE 2002 This Week

This week’s Home Entertainment 2002 show will be held from May 30th through June 2nd at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. The show promises to provide some very interesting news and demonstrations of the SACD format.

As in past years, several audio firms plan to use SACD players and discs to show off their latest audio products. Also on tap will be a seminar from experts in the SACD field and a press conference by Sony’s Super Audio CD Project. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Pre-Show SACD Press Conference
On Thursday morning before the HE 2002 show doors open, the Sony Super Audio CD project staff will be conducting an SACD Press Conference. The announcement to the press says that the event will include “the latest news about Super Audio CD hardware and software.”

Based on that description, I had expected to hear a status report on SACD along with news about upcoming Sony Music SACD discs and perhaps some new Sony SACD players. Another possibility would be news from the Universal Music Group about their first batch of SACDs which are due out in July according to recent reports.

However, a much more interesting SACD news item appeared today on the Stereophile web site. In summary, the Stereophile story quotes sources in the music industry as suggesting that both Universal Music and Sony Music will be switching from Compact Disc to Hybrid Layer SACD for all future music disc releases later this year! Hmm, that would be quite a headline to Thursday’s SACD press event, if true.

Sony and Eggleston Works High End SACD Demo Suite
Another booth at HE 2002 to check will be on the 2nd Floor in the Nassau A & B Suite. There Sony is teaming up with high end audio firm Eggleston Works to demonstrate some of the latest SACD releases in both Stereo and Multichannel sound.

Some have referred to the audio set up in this room as a “Million Dollar SACD System”. I haven’t been able to verify the value of the equipment in the room but I have been told that visitors will be treated to a system that includes a Sony XA777ES Multichannel/Stereo SACD player, Eggleston Works speakers and high end audio interconnects and amps.

Meitner SACD System May Make An Appearance
Halcro will be hosting another high end SACD demo on the 4th floor of the show in the Lincoln Suite. This room will feature equipment from Clearaudio, Halcro & Rockport. SACD discs played in Stereo will be part of the demonstration as played on a Marantz SA-1 SACD player.

The special attraction in this room may be the premiere of the new Meitner SACD Transport/DAC from EMM Labs. This product is the latest creation of well known analog/digital designer Ed Meitner.

Meitner has modified a Philips SACD-1000 Multichannel SACD player so that it now includes a digital output and an encrypted ST Glass optical connector. With this optical connection, the modified SACD-1000 will act as an SACD transport to one of EMM’s just released “4th Generation” DSD DACs.

The new Meitner SACD Transport/DAC combo is said to upsample standard CD discs to DSD for playback as well as offer mastering studio level SACD playback. If the Meitner player arrives on time for the show, it could be a show audio highlight!

Mike Pappas Live Concert Recordings in DSD
Speaking of the Meitner DSD DAC, I’m also told it will be featured in the Von Sweikert room (7th Floor, Room 725). In that demonstration, a system that includes a Genex DSD System, the Meitner DSD DAC and Von Sweikert equipment will be used to play back Live DSD Jazz Concert recordings made by well known engineer Mike Pappas.

When these DSD tapes were played at CES 2002 in Las Vegas earlier this year, some audio writers cited it as a show highlight. If you have a chance, be sure to hear them at HE 2002.

SACD Seminar to Feature Industry Experts
Another show highlight will be Friday’s seminar on the SACD format entitled “High Resolution Super Audio CD”. The seminar will be held from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. in Concourse Room A. It will be hosted by David Kawakami, Director of Sony’s Super Audio CD Project.

The panel for this session will include several industry notables including Michael Bishop, Recording Engineer for Telarc International, Bob Ludwig, Owner of Gateway Mastering, Tom Jung, Owner of DMP Records, Yves Beauvais, A&R Director for Columbia’s Jazz recordings and Frank Filipetti, well known Producer and Engineer responsible for the James Taylor “Hourglass” and Carly Simon “No Secrets” high resolution recordings. They will discuss their experiences in preparing some of today’s top SACD disc releases.

Sharp Expands 1 Bit Product Line
Sharp Electronics, an early supporter of SACD and 1 bit technology will be announcing some new products at HE 2002 as well. Sharp officials tell me that members of the press and attendees of HE 2002 are invited to visit Room 735 at the show to learn more about “Sharp’s breakthrough digital amplification technology line which will be expanded to include more consumer priced products.”

SACD Discs for Sale
SACD fans will also want to visit the SACD web stores that will be at the show. At press time, this includes Acoustic Sounds (booth 2208), Elusive Disc (booth 2314), Music Direct (booth 2212), Red Trumpet (booth 2220) and Chesky Records (booth 2309).

All in all, it should be a good show for SACD fans. Click on the link below for details on show hours and tickets.