Warner and Sony Respond to Reports On Continuing High-Resolution Support

Warner Music Group is pulling out of DVD-Audio. Sony Music is abandoning SACD. These were the rumours circulating at CES 2004 last week, perhaps an indication that the high-resolution format war has stepped up a gear.

“Warner is the only one of the five record majors not producing SACDs and rumours abound that it will soon pull out of DVD-A,”

wrote Richard Milne in an error-filled article published by the Financial Times on January 6th. This sparked a tidal wave of speculation as other news organisations reported Milne’s unsubstantiated remark.

Warner Music Group told High Fidelity Review they were not contacted by the FT for comment prior to the article’s publication, however, when editor Stuart M. Robinson approached WMG their representative Susan Mazo was quick to provide an official denial:

“Warner Music Group continues to be a strong supporter of the DVD-A format.”

Short, but certainly to the point. Off-the-record, the senior producers and engineers at WMG we contacted cited numerous continuing and ‘in-development’ projects as evidence of a future DVD-Audio release schedule.

On the other side of the fence, Sony Music representatives both in Las Vegas and New York spent a good part of last week rebutting stories about Sony Music’s abandonment of SACD, or “SA-CD” as they now like to call it.

In a statement issued to me late last week, Sony Music’s John Mckay commented:

“Sony Music Entertainment has released over 240 SA-CDs over the past four and a half years, and the company remains fully committed to the format. Frontline multichannel SA-CD titles released during the fall and winter of 2003 covered a wide variety of genres, ranging from David Bowie’s ‘Reality’ to The Thorns and Barbra Streisand’s ‘The Movie Album’. In addition, the company recently released a wide variety of classic catalog titles in the SA-CD format, including the critically acclaimed Bob Dylan reissue series. The response to the format among audiophiles has been nothing short of phenomenal. Multichannel SA-CDs slated for release during 2004 include titles from Beyonce and Stevie Ray Vaughan.”

John continues:

“In addition, Sony Music continues to roll out its series of multichannel DVD music video titles, with recent and upcoming titles ranging from Rage Against The Machine’s Live At The Grand Olympic Auditorium to Barbra Streisand’s The Concert – Live at the MGM Grand and a live concert from Beyonce.”

I’m not sure exactly how that last paragraph relates to the subject at hand, and the text definitely has the air of a canned reply about it, but there’s no doubting Sony Music’s continued and bullish support of SACD.

[The original version of this article contained comments by David Migdal, Director of Corporate Communications for Sony Electronics Inc. Those comments have been removed at David’s request.]