The Super Audio CD Project Team in Europe has announced the release later this month of the 3000th album on the format. With poignancy and significance, this landmark Super Audio CD album is scheduled to be ‘Brothers in Arms’ by Dire Straits. Released by Mercury Records, the album will be launched simultaneously as a CD and Super Audio CD on 23 May 2005.
In the summer of 1985 Dire Straits took the music industry by storm. With CD still in its infancy, the band made the decision to release their new studio album ‘Brothers in Arms’ on the format. The rest is legend – the album has clocked up over 20 million sales and recorded #1 status in 22 countries. It is credited above all other albums with establishing the CD format and moving it into music’s mainstream.
Now, 20 years later, Dire Straits are celebrating the anniversary of the album’s launch with the release of a new re-mixed and re-mastered hybrid surround sound version of the album on Super Audio CD. Capable of being played on any CD or DVD-Video player at stereo CD quality, it is when the album is played in all its 5.1 multi-channel splendour on a Super Audio CD player that the true extent of the band’s artistry becomes evident.
Having released his latest solo album, ‘Shangri-La, on the Super Audio CD format last September, Dire Straits’ lead vocalist and guitarist, Mark Knopfler, is experienced in the format and has personally supervised the Super Audio CD release project. Much of the remixing and re-mastering work was carried out at his studio facility in the UK.
Retailing at the same price as the CD version, the Super Audio CD contains a number of different mixes including a re-mastered stereo CD, stereo Super Audio CD and a fully featured 5.1 surround Super Audio CD mix. In order to create the two Super Audio CD mixes, Knopfler went back to the original studio master tapes and converted them to DSD (Direct Stream Digital) recordings. DSD is a revolutionary super high-resolution recording and mastering medium that lies at the heart of the Super Audio CD format. The result, according to the record label, is an entirely new listening and sensory experience: a version of this classic 1980’s album that breathes new life into tracks such as ‘Money For Nothing’, ‘Walk Of Life’ and ‘Brothers in Arms’.
Super Audio CD Platform in Place
Whilst the adage that ‘music makes formats’ is true, another essential requirement for Super Audio CD’s long-term success is a broad range of hardware devices capable of playing the music. Currently, there are more than 60 companies that are actively developing Super Audio CD compatible products and there are more than 150 products in the market place.
These companies span the range from multinationals, such as Toshiba, Samsung, Pioneer and Philips to audiophile equipment developers, such as Linn, Denon and Marantz. The largest range of Super Audio CD players available today come from Sony. Amongst other applications, the company is focusing on the Home Cinema sector, which represents its biggest selling Super Audio CD product category.
“First came DVD-Video and this set new standards in home entertainment video quality and then Super Audio CD more than matched that in audio terms,” commented David Walstra, Director at Sony Europe Home Electronics Marketing. “Super Audio CD re-writes the rule book and sets audio standards that are much higher than other compressed digital surround sound formats. It’s a slow-burning phenomenon, but more and more people are catching on to the unique surround sound quality that Super Audio CD provides. As we move forwards with DVD-Video and towards a High Definition home entertainment environment, Super Audio CD’s support continues to grow and its consumer appeal becomes even stronger. The mission for the whole consumer electronics industry is to develop affordable Super Audio CD players in every category from Home Cinema to in-car and mobile.”
Through its Super Audio CD licensing operation, the format team is registering strong interest from manufacturers looking to develop the format. “Whether it’s consumer equipment, pro-tool developers or disc replicators, there is a large and expanding number of manufacturers evolving their Super Audio CD ranges,” stated Walstra. “The audio market is addressing the surround sound market and no format offers such a high quality and elegant solution as Super Audio CD. The format and the business model are in place and increasing numbers of consumers and companies are focusing on it and integrating it within their future strategies.”
Additional Notes from HFR:
The SACD release date for ‘Brothers in Arms’ currently only applies to Europe and has been delayed from May 9th. Sources tell us that an MLP DVD-Audio or DualDisc version for the US market (depending on whether Mark Knopfler decides to support the latter) complete with a number of supplementary video extras will become available later in the year. ‘Shangri-La’ is now also available as a dual DVD-Audio / CD pack from Warner. [SMR]