Warner Announces Hi-Rez Initiative - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 69 Old 05-17-2011, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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From the following Cnet article:

This past Thursday I attended an informal "summit" hosted by Craig Kallman, Atlantic Records' CEO and Chairman, to learn more about the label's plans to start releasing high-resolution music. Kallman is passionate about improving the sound of music, and I was impressed by his candor about the industry's appalling track record and declining sound quality standards.

...I was impressed by Kallman's determination not to repeat the mistakes of the DVD-A and SACD campaigns of a decade ago. A lot of the business details are still being worked out, so specifics about the new high-resolution releases were in short supply. Kallman did promise that Warner's commitment to high-resolution will be "active and aggressive," and the formal announcement will take place at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2012. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that all of the major and indie record labels get serious about releasing better-sounding music next year. We'll see.


Neil Young (who is on WB) also posted this on his site: 2012 will be the year that record companies release High Resolution Audio...The spirituality and the soul of music is truly found when the sound engulfs you and that is just what 2012 will bring...This is what recording companies were born to give you and in 2012 they will deliver.

I sincerely hope that Neil is right. Maybe a high profile push for quality audio will actually succeed this time?

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post #2 of 69 Old 05-17-2011, 09:29 PM
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I'm skeptical - in the last few years "high definition" and "high resolution" have become marketing buzzwords for everything from new cars to kitchen appliances. The issue isn't with the quality of available formats (DVD-A, SACD, Blu-ray) or even formats that are a few years old (DVD, Laserdisc, CD), the issue is with the content being produced for those formats. There isn't anything that makes any of those six "low quality", but if you track garbage to them, they'll be sure to reproduce it in crystal clear HD.
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post #3 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 03:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave McWilliams View Post

I sincerely hope that Neil is right. Maybe a high profile push for quality audio will actually succeed this time?

So does this mean that destrictive techncal violence that cuts the heart out of music, that we can actually and easily hear, such as hypercompression, will be somehow held in abeyance?

Are they finally swearing off re-releasing music that has been forever stripped of dynamic range and frequency response extension by legacy recording techniques?

Long on flattering talk and short on meaningful details, isn't that just more hype?
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post #4 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 06:42 AM
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Sounds like an attempt to make us buy our music all over again.
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post #5 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by David James View Post

Sounds like an attempt to make us buy our music all over again.

LOL, exactly what I thought. Recording and Mastering integrity brought to the masses in a higher bit and sampling rate format wasn't going to happen until they figured out how to:

1. Get you to purchase it all over again
2. Lock it down and lock you out of what you currently enjoy doing with CD's today. I wonder what kind of DRM scheme it will have (and ultimately doom it to failure).

Now it's all wrapped in the guise of 'Musical Integrity'. This from a big label exec.

There is a saying of indigenous peoples: Beware of your savior that come wearing hard hats.

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post #6 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

So does this mean that destrictive techncal violence that cuts the heart out of music, that we can actually and easily hear, such as hypercompression, will be somehow held in abeyance?

Funny you should mention that. From Steve Guttenberg's original article on Cnet:

I think the widespread overuse of dynamic range compression is far more musically destructive than the low sampling rates used in formats like MP3. I fear that if the new formats are just higher-resolution versions of the dynamically compressed MP3 and CD releases, there might not be enough of a sonic improvement to sway buyers seeking a better experience. Perhaps the new high-resolution releases should include mixes with less compression and processing. Kallman was open to the idea, so we'll see if wider quiet-to-loud dynamic range is incorporated in Warner's high-resolution formats. Consumers already enjoy DVD and Blu-ray movies with extremely wide dynamic range; it would be great to also have that same life-like dynamic impact with music.

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Are they finally swearing off re-releasing music that has been forever stripped of dynamic range and frequency response extension by legacy recording techniques?

I think we can be confident that re-releasing legacy recordings WILL be a big part of this. From a business standpoint, they'd be insane not to. That aside, the question is, are the new hi-rez releases going to be remixed and remastered (to quote Rich Chycki) "without the buss limiter...set to stun"? I personally never understood that approach to recording pop/rock material. Radio stations compress the life out of everything they play anyway. Why do it in the recording process? Don't we all have volume knobs and remote control?

As far as format goes, my guess is that Blu-ray will involved. DRM, who knows? None of them have worked for very long so far.

At the risk of sounding heretical, does anyone here think that doing the right thing may be the only thing left for the music industry to try?

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post #7 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 09:36 AM
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At the risk of sounding heretical, does anyone here think that doing the right thing may be the only thing left for the music industry to try?

Clearly you lack imagination.

For starters, they haven't given up on the old "announce vaporware" strategy, now, have they?

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post #8 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 02:50 PM
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After all the hype is over the proof will be in the actual product. I'll wait, then listen.
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post #9 of 69 Old 05-18-2011, 05:59 PM
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To be perfectly honest, I'm satisfied with the sound I have today. I doubt, my 58 year old ears could discern the difference between the FLAC's I have now and what is planned.

Unless, of course, I start listening through my wallet or web browser
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post #10 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 05:40 AM
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We do not need old stereo mixes on a new physical media. They better start making surround mixes of new music. That would be a real breakthrough.
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post #11 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 06:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Hard to say if this will stick, given the outcome of the DVD-A and SACD campaigns. Blu-ray, however, is mainstream enough now that most of the public "gets" it, and they could certainly be educated about the benefits of hi-rez 5.1 music. The difference isn't difficult to hear. It is certainly possible that that John Q. Public's reluctance to embrace the aforementioned formats was at least partially caused by confusion.

We shall see.

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post #12 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McWilliams View Post
...Blu-ray, however, is mainstream enough now that most of the public "gets" it, and they could certainly be educated about the benefits of hi-rez 5.1 music. The difference isn't difficult to hear. It is certainly possible that that John Q. Public's reluctance to embrace the aforementioned formats was at least partially caused by confusion.

We shall see.
While the public sort of gets BD (HD video) (and it's debatable) they in general couldn't care less about music (quality). Music is all around, everywhere, all the time and is just for background/wallpaper/tap a foot for 10 seconds and move on.

John Q. Public's (aka: J6P) isn't going to sit down to "only" hear music. Those days have long gone and even actually watching a 2 hour film is becoming problematic without texting/tweeting/googling about it.
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post #13 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 09:52 AM
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While the public sort of gets BD (HD video) (and it's debatable) they in general couldn't care less about music (quality). Music is all around, everywhere, all the time and is just for background/wallpaper/tap a foot for 10 seconds and move on.

History shows that given an actual definite improvement in sound quality, the public steps right up and puts their money down. Trouble is, the last time that sort of a sound quality benefit happened was the CD.

This time through, the undeniable advantage of *the next new thing* is all about instant gratification, and downloads are quickly overtaking physical media.

I personally hope that people hold out until some serious sound quality advantages are actually provided. That provides an economic justification to actually make it happen.

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John Q. Public's (aka: J6P) isn't going to sit down to "only" hear music. Those days have long gone and even actually watching a 2 hour film is becoming problematic without texting/tweeting/googling about it.


I agree that listening to music and doing nothing else is a dying art. However, what killed it off was a superior alternative - namely having video to go with the audio.

Goggling/tweeting/texting is at least in my case strongly related to the actual movie, so its not so much a distraction as a kind of added value.
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post #14 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by David James View Post

...
Unless, of course, I start listening through my wallet or web browser

Or, evolution takes a drastic 180 turn
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post #15 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 01:00 PM
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If this sells as a 'physical' product, the SKU would most likely be a 12 cm optical disk. But in order to out perform both DVD-Audio and SACD, and not become marginalized, you are looking at 'more than 5.1 channels' plus 'backward compatibility with all CD players'...

It's easy to conceptualize the physical product as (perhaps) a CD|BD 'flippy' supporting (something like) 5.1_Standard|7.1_Front-Wide channel layouts through BD, but still (one side) playable in the existing OEM CD player in any auto. And it provides for single SKU manufacturing and store shelving for each album. What's harder to imagine is pricing the new product at only a small premium over competing 'CD only' albums!

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post #16 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

History shows that given an actual definite improvement in sound quality, the public steps right up and puts their money down. Trouble is, the last time that sort of a sound quality benefit happened was the CD...

Not true. The last time it happened was DVD-A and before that SA-CD (you could also add HDCD to the list). The CD was introduced in the early 80's and way before lossy. People bought into the CD format for lots of reasons other than just sound quality, like portability and durability.

Also (young) people that have been weaned of MP3, XM radio and $2 earbud's aren't remotely interested in SQ. All they want is a "free" way to get music no mater how poor the quality.
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Quote:


Quote:


History shows that given an actual definite improvement in sound quality, the public steps right up and puts their money down. Trouble is, the last time that sort of a sound quality benefit happened was the CD...

Not true. The last time it happened was DVD-A and before that SA-CD

I would not characterize the combined sales of DVD-A and SACD as anything like the public "stepping right up." "Walking right by" would be more like it.

Not that those technologies offered any real improvement in sound quality over CD, as subsequent research has demonstrated.

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post #18 of 69 Old 05-19-2011, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by William View Post

Not true.

Really?

What sort of reliable evidence do you have for this assertion, or is this just your personal opinion? If you're just blowing off steam, then fine, enjoy! If you are trying to make a point, then lets look at some of the relevant reliable evidence, eh? ;-)

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The last time it happened was DVD-A and before that SA-CD (you could also add HDCD to the list).

AFAIK nobody has ever done a unbiased listening test showing that that the SACD or DVD-A format necessarily sounds any different than the corresponding CD-A format recording. In fact, there's the recent and well-known Meyer and Moran JAES paper that shows that routing audio signals from SACDs and DVD-As through a 16/44 audio path makes no reliably audible difference whatsoever.

I've personally done similar tests with similar results. So have many other people - its not a hard experiement to run. Have you?

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The CD was introduced in the early 80's and way before lossy. People bought into the CD format for lots of reasons other than just sound quality, like portability and durability.

Well you know that just because I love my wife's personalty doesn't mean that I can't appreciate her cooking! ;-) IOW, just because people bought CDs for reasons other than just sound quality doesn't mean that there was anything wrong with the CD format's sound quality. We know that over the years some horrible digital music has been pressed and burned onto CDs, but we also know that this isn't due to any fault of the medium, except that it is too easy to use.

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Also (young) people that have been weaned of MP3, XM radio and $2 earbud's aren't remotely interested in SQ.

True I've never heard XM radio sounding good to my ears, but then I know that the bitrates have been in the sewer for years. As far as lossy-coded media goes, the same thing implies. 32 Kbps MP3s are MP3s, but their lack of fidelity again doesn't mean that the concept or format is fatally flawed when done right.

But why are you bringing up young listeners, XM, and MP3s when we started out talking about CDs? Are you trying to lead this discussion off-topic or what?
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post #19 of 69 Old 05-20-2011, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

If this sells as a 'physical' product, the SKU would most likely be a 12 cm optical disk. But in order to out perform both DVD-Audio and SACD, and not become marginalized, you are looking at 'more than 5.1 channels' plus 'backward compatibility with all CD players'...

It's easy to conceptualize the physical product as (perhaps) a CD|BD 'flippy' supporting (something like) 5.1_Standard|7.1_Front-Wide channel layouts through BD, but still (one side) playable in the existing OEM CD player in any auto. And it provides for single SKU manufacturing and store shelving for each album. What's harder to imagine is pricing the new product at only a small premium over competing 'CD only' albums! ]

"DualDisc" DVD-A incorporated most of these qualities. Could something similar be possible with Blu-ray audio?

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post #20 of 69 Old 05-20-2011, 12:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave McWilliams View Post

"DualDisc" DVD-A incorporated most of these qualities. Could something similar be possible with Blu-ray audio?

Any technology problems associated with assembling the product are unlikely to be the make-or-break issues here. A more appropriate question might be whether or not the content providers can invent some 'product' with a mix of perceived audio improvement, data ubiquity, and copyright protection consequent complexity for which the Price Elasticity of Demand (volume vs. sales price) curve can deliver a useful revenue business model . . . because, absent some positive income stream to the content providers, any new high rez audio scheme might just as well stay at the concept-only stage!

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post #21 of 69 Old 05-20-2011, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave McWilliams View Post

"DualDisc" DVD-A incorporated most of these qualities. Could something similar be possible with Blu-ray audio?

Putting different technologies on opposite sides of a disc is pretty easy, putting them on the same side of the disc is pretty hard but has also been done.
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post #22 of 69 Old 05-20-2011, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Putting different technologies on opposite sides of a disc is pretty easy, putting them on the same side of the disc is pretty hard but has also been done.

IIRC, there are already (1) single-side Hybrid Super Audio CDs, which can combine a (2.0) CD layer with a (2.0 + 5.1) Super Audio CD layer, and (2) single-side, three-layer BD/DVD Hybrid Discs, with one layer used for BD (25Gb) and two layers used for DVD (8.5Gb). So I guess you could sandwich them back-to-back, author content for the DVD layers as Hybrid DVD-Audio|DVD-Video, and add "pre-ripped" FLAC and mp3 files to both the DVD and BD components for convenience. Then all you need to do to get successful volume sales is price the disc at US$0.99 per track to compete directly with internet downloads!

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post #23 of 69 Old 05-20-2011, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

...absent some positive income stream to the content providers, any new high rez audio scheme might just as well stay at the concept-only stage!

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Originally Posted by SoundChex View Post

Then all you need to do to get successful volume sales is price the disc at US$0.99 per track to compete directly with internet downloads!

This is essentially a new initiative, so it's possible that the companies involved may have some patience to see how things play out financially. Obviously, this is going to have to compete with an awful lot of cheap alternatives.

I can tell you this much: My wife, who doesn't sit down to listen to music much, watched Classic Albums with me tonight (Fleetwood Mac's Rumors). After the show was over, I got inspired and popped in wonderfully mixed and mastered DVD-A. Not long after the music started, she said, "Wow, that sounds so good." She actually listened to the entire record, front to back, including some of the commentary from the members of the band. So, according to my very unscientific survey, even folks who aren't enthusiasts enjoy hi-rez 5.1 music.

Whether enough of them will care enough to buy into it and make this a successful business venture remains to be seen. I for one hope so.

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post #24 of 69 Old 05-21-2011, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Dave McWilliams View Post

At the risk of sounding heretical, does anyone here think that doing the right thing may be the only thing left for the music industry to try?

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Clearly you lack imagination.

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I love this "quote", even if it isn't really accurate. The original was aimed at TV journalism, but it certainly rings true when directed at any of the businesses it was later appropriated to lambaste.

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post #25 of 69 Old 05-21-2011, 12:24 PM
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I really hope all of Neil's recordings are rereleased on this format so I can buy them all again.

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post #26 of 69 Old 05-21-2011, 02:04 PM
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I can tell you this much: My wife, who doesn't sit down to listen to music much, watched Classic Albums with me tonight (Fleetwood Mac's Rumors). After the show was over, I got inspired and popped in wonderfully mixed and mastered DVD-A. Not long after the music started, she said, "Wow, that sounds so good."
Yes, and how much would it cost me to buy a copy of Rumours on DVD-A? Right now I can pick up a used copy on Amazon for $159! I probably would buy it at $10, I might buy it at $16, and I probably won't buy it at $20. But $159, no way in hell.

It's not like I won't hand over cash money to buy high resolution music. I have the Dark Side of the Moon SACD, NIN's With Teeth DualDisc, The Downward Spiral on SACD, and Beatles Love on DVD-A. However, I won't pay a ton of money for out of print music.

Moreover, I am amazed at just how much of a pain in the ass it is to rip and stream high resolution music. I have the Beatles collection in FLAC and a needledrop conversion of Led Zepplin from vinyl. However, getting my Oppo BDP-83SE to play anything higher than 16-bit over the network just doesn't work. Oppo blames Asset and Asset blames Oppo. Right now the damned thing just doesn't work. Walking across the room to swap little discs makes no sense in the era of cheap 2TB hard drives and ubiquitous networking.

Airport Express isn't a valid alternative if you want 24 bit content at 96 or 192 kHz. I'm pretty sure Airplay won't work this way either. If you have a front projector and you want to stream high resolution music without turning on the projector and putting hours on the bulb, best of luck.

I guess I'm just pretty disgusted with the whole mess. The original master tapes of music recorded back in the 60's and 70's often still sound quite good. However, cheap digital downloads are limited to 256 kbps in most cases.

It amazes me that my best option is to buy a used CD from eBay and rip it to FLAC or get used vinyl, perform a needle drop, and make my own high resolution recording. The record companies get no money from used sales. Why won't they sell lossless 24/96 songs for $1 to $2 per song?

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post #27 of 69 Old 05-21-2011, 02:52 PM
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Why won't they sell lossless 24/96 songs for $1 to $2 per song?
Because no one, save a few cranks, wants them.

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post #28 of 69 Old 05-21-2011, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by JimboG View Post
It amazes me that my best option is to buy a used CD from eBay and rip it to FLAC or get used vinyl, perform a needle drop, and make my own high resolution recording. The record companies get no money from used sales. Why won't they sell lossless 24/96 songs for $1 to $2 per song?
I hope that you realize that "high resolution needle drop" is generally an oxymoron. The LP format is hard pressed to have even 70 dB dynamic range which makes it a sub-CD format when it comes to resolution.
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post #29 of 69 Old 05-22-2011, 07:41 AM
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I encourage and wish them good luck with this endeavor. I'd welcome better versions of even "old" "outdated" 2 channel sources.

I don't think the benefit will be in the high-res format. The benefit (if any) will be in "mastering" the content carefully to take full advantage of the highres target. This will likely result in much better CD versions as well. (A prime example is the Beatles - the original CD's were horrible - an LP rip was noticeably superior - the catalog was remastered for high resolution rerelease, and the new CD are everybit as good as the vinyl as near as I can tell - there are differences, but there are also differences bbetween vinyl pressings)

I think this is great news. Hopefully they can find a way to make it work.

Hopefully they'll do this in a way that allows the music to be easily transferred to a computer (a standard redbook would be fine). Or as bandwidth increases, selling direct over the internet is certainly possible - I'd like to see them undercut the price of apple and amazon type mp3's, but that seems unlikely since the goal is no doubt to make as much money as possible (for themselves, not the artists)

Everything I say here is my opinion. It is not my employers opinion, it is not my wife's opinion, it is not my neighbors opinion, it is My Opinion.
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post #30 of 69 Old 05-22-2011, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimboG View Post

The record companies get no money from used sales. Why won't they sell lossless 24/96 songs for $1 to $2 per song?

It makes sense from historic point of view. SACD/DVD-A came out before iTunes and iPod revolution of digital purchases. A number of industry execs claimed the high-resolution disc formats to be the future of music, and as a way to combat piracy of MP3/CDs. Well, history proved them wrong overnight with Apple's success selling iTunes tracks. In short span, essentially all of those execs were fired for having the wrong vision of future of music.

Now imagine you are a new exec at these companies. Will you dust off the old playback and play it loud, pun intended? The answer has to be no, or at least a very hesitant yes.

Amir
Founder, Madrona Digital
"Insist on Quality Engineering"

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