Universal Music Group Announce DVD-Audio Release Schedule

Universal have announced their upcoming DVD-Audio release schedule, and it looks like a veritable who’s who of big name artists, including Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Elton John, Shania Twain, Steely Dan, Sting and The Who.

The news heralds Universal Music Group’s first American DVD-Audio releases, which are slated to begin appearing on shelves from September 23rd onwards. According to the official company press release, UMG plans an ongoing DVD-Audio release program that will “…offer best-selling artists and core catalogue titles to major markets worldwide.”

Universal Music Group call themselves the “world’s leading music company”, so their support of DVD-Audio, alongside their current SACD release schedule, will be considered as excellent news for all supporters of high-resolution audio, and especially those of DVD-Audio.

Larry Kenswil, President, eLabs, Universal Music Group:

UMG continues to offer music fans a wide variety of formats in which to enjoy our music. DVD-Audio gives consumers a quality sonic experience, while also offering bonus enhanced content. The popularity of the DVD format makes DVD-Audio a natural choice for consumers who wish to experience the world of multi-channel surround sound.

Universal Music Group labels now signed up to the DVD-Audio format include Deutsche Grammophon, Lost Highway, Decca Record Company, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, MCA Nashville, Mercury Records, Motown Records, Philips, Polydor, Universal Music Latino, Universal Records and Verve Music Group.

The impressive list of titles UMG titles have promised comprises:

  • Aaron Neville ‘Nature Boy: The Standards Album
  • Andrea Bocelli ‘Verdi: Arias
  • Anne-Sophie Mutter ‘Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
  • Beck ‘Sea Change
  • Cecilia Bartoli ‘The Vivaldi Album
  • Christian Thielemann ‘Orff: Carmina Burana
  • Claudio Abbado ‘Beethoven Symphonies 1 and 2
  • Dave Grusin ‘Two For The Road
  • David Sanborn ‘Timeagain
  • Diana Krall ‘Love Scenes
  • Diana Krall ‘When I Look In Your Eyes
  • Diana Krall ‘The Look Of Love
  • Peter Frampton ‘Frampton Comes Alive!
  • Elton John ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  • George Strait ‘Honkytonkville
  • John Hiatt ‘Bring the Family
  • Marvin Gaye ‘The Marvin Gaye Collection
  • Ryan Adams ‘Gold
  • Shania Twain ‘Up!
  • Sheryl Crow ‘The Globe Sessions
  • Steely Dan ‘Gaucho
  • Sting ‘Brand New Day
  • The Who ‘Tommy
  • 3 Doors Down ‘Away from the Sun
  • Vince Gill ‘High Lonesome Sound
  • Valery Gergiev ‘Tchaikovsky: 6th Symphony

A number of these titles are already available or announced as SACD releases, so it will be interesting to see how the DVD-Audio versions differ, not just in terms of audio content, but also supplementary bonus material. According to Kenswil, typically Universal’s DVD-Audio discs will

…include bonus content including photos, biographies, lyrics, discographies and videos.

, none of which is available on the SACD equivalent.

The company is also quick to point out that

…all of UMG’s releases have been re-mixed and re-mastered from the original multi-track masters, taking advantage of the superior Advanced Resolution surround and stereo sound quality available with DVD-Audio.

However, if the advance information from UMG is correct, of the initial batch of titles announced for September 23rd, only one, Sheryl Crow’s ‘The Globe Sessions’ at 96kHz 24-bit actually takes advantage of the multi-channel resolution DVD-Audio has to offer. Vince Gill’s ‘High Lonesome Sound’ will be 88.2kHz, Sting’s ‘Brand New Day’ is to be 48kHz and the remainder, which include titles from Diana Krall, Dave Grusin, Marvin Gaye and Sheryl Crow can offer no better than 44.1kHz (the equivalent of the humble Compact Disc, albeit at 24-bit).

It’s a similar, rather disappointing story for the stereo tracks. While three of September’s releases are said to be 96kHz 24-bit, one is 88.2kHz and the remaining two, 44.1kHz. One wonders what the point of UMG’s high-resolution releases are, especially in light of the company’s claims, if their actual resolution hardly betters that of CD.

As is to be expected, Universal’s DVD-Audio discs will also play on all existing DVD-Video players via a backward compatible Dolby Digital track.