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Universal HD Player same fate as SACD/DVD-A?

7219 Views 61 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  No_U-Turn
With all the discussions about how the HD video format ware are similar to VHS/Betamax wars, it strikes me that we are seeing SACD and DVD-A scenario all over again. It is possible that both could win and both could lose. I bet that many of you have not bought a SACD or DVD-A disk lately. The formats are not dead, but they sure did not catch on as everyone expected.

The multi-channel formats were introduced amid lots of buzz about how they were going to revolutionize the way everyone was going to listen to music. Some of the following I see as similarities:

1. You had Sony backing one format, SACD, over the other.

2. You had a niche market.

3. You had to pay a premium for the multi-channel capability, at least initially. And it required you to buy a new player.

4. The early adopters had to choose one or the other format.

5. The disks cost more that standard CDs.

6. Joe Six Pack still does not own a SACD/DVD-A player.

7. Eventually companies started making universal players for the audio formats and you were not stuck with one format over the other.

I see a similarity and will be interested to see if the HD video formats follow the same pattern. Personally, I hope the dual players become the norm and the cost hits a reasonable price point. Because I am tired of hijacking my sons XBOX to watch HD movies downstairs on the projector. And I am not ready to buy a player of each format.
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Yeah, despite the higher quality of SACD and DVD-A normal CDs remained the standard. The same thing will probably happen to HD DVD and Blu-Ray
Well I believe that video HD formats will survive. I don't see a repeat of the SACD/DVD-A war. Music in 5.1 just doesn't interest most people. Heck, I love music and I strongly prefer stereo to 5.1 mixes any day of the week. BD/HD DVD is another story entirely, sure there's better audio but it's the improved video that people really care about. It's the HD demo video in the store that grabs Joe Sixpack's attention. As for audio, he's more concerned with volume than he is with quality IMO.
nyg is right.

With DVD-Audio and SACD the studios got greedy. They thought they could replace a "open" format like CD with a DRM format.

In order to entice us they attempted to add surround sound and higher bitrates/SQ.

They failed to realize a couple of important things.

1. Audio isn't as important to people as video. Witness $5000 Plasmas on the wall with cheapo lifestyle speakers flanking the screen.

2. Telling consumers that in order to enjoy DVDA/SACD they'd need to add 3 more speakers was foolish.

Plus DVDA and SACD came at the precipice of a revolution. MP3 and the era of jukebox and custom playlists.

HD DVD and Blu-ray will neatly sidestep this issue because.

1. They only require a HDTV which consumers seem to enjoy snapping up as the price decreases.

2. They don't have issues with setup (like finding where to put 5 speakers.

3. Consumers on the whole watch much more TV than they listen to music.

There are some caveats however.

HD DVD and Blu-ray cannot assume that they can beat DVD by increasing the quality alone. They need to have value added features. The net access needs to be taken advantage of. The interactivity should be clever and useful. And last but not least Managed Copy needs to address the accessibility to content that consumers demand.

Handle those things well and you wont end up like the Dodo.
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In a word, No, IMO. As mentioned, it all boiled down to DRM. The required hoops to jump through in order to properly play SACD and DVD-A were just too many. They were dead formats before they ever got started.

Video is an entirely different beast. DRM issues are far less of a factor because video is not very portable and it has a one-wire hookup solution.

People will choose HD format eventually. With more and more shows being in HD people will start not liking the picture on DVD's. When people go out to buy a season of their favorite TV show (Heroes for example) on DVD they will think this looked better when I watched it on TV.
I would not disagree that video is a different animal thank audio when one discusses the average joe. The folks I know who are not big into this hobby have heard of blu-ray, but have no intention of buying one, even if it looks better.

My point really, is that I see the HD-DVD versus BR in the same light as SACD versus DVD-A. I believe we will see both formats fill a niche market and you will see dual format players become prevalent the same way the universal cd players did. If Denon, Panasonic, Pioneer, Yamaha and Marantz begin to market dual format players, I believe we will see both formats around for quite a while. But, they will never become the norm and have the same market share that DVDs do today.

I hope dual format players continue to evolve and the studios continue to support HD.
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Yeah, I don't see them as that analogous either, even though some people love to make the comparison.

First of all, that they happened to come along when compressed music and the ability to have random access was important. The system of listening to random songs from a hard drive or portable player is compelling. Movies are not like that. I don't see myself saying "okay, now I'm going to watch chapter 6 of The Matrix and then I'm going to watch chapter 14 of The Two Towers" and so on. Movies require enough time investment that having them on demand as opposed to getting a disc out is not a big deal. The new audio formats couldn't be ripped either, although that was understandable in this day and age.

Second, music is a medium that is often enjoyed on the go, and if it isn't always that way, people at least like to know they can make it portable if they want. You had one format that couldn't be played on portable players at all (DVD-A) and another that either couldn't be played (non-hybrid SACD) or offered no advantage over CD on a portable player or on a computer. I still think the decision to make SACDs unplayable on computers doomed it from the start, even though I completely understand why it was designed that way.

Third, multichannel aside, I just don't think the improvement is that noticeable to the average consumer. It takes better equipment, and even then, the difference is not that great compared to a well-mastered CD. HD video, on the other hand, is very noticeable to anyone who has an HDTV, even though size/viewing distance can limit this.

From a personal perspective, my problem with DVD-A/SACD was that there just weren't enough releases I was interested in. I've bought 60 HD DVDs/BDs so far, and I'm not sure I could even find 60 titles I would buy on DVD-A/SACD unless I decided to start collecting classical or jazz music. New hit movies are on the HD video discs, but we rarely saw hit albums released day and date on the new audio formats. Even if this HD thing does stay a niche, I'd be just fine with it as long as I have enough to buy.
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I agree with much of what SirDrexl said. I want my music portable and rippable. I don't want to file share, I just want instantaneous access to any song at any time, at the highest quality (uncompressed or lossless). With movies, I want to sit down and watch the whole movie, preferably on a large screen (the exception being television series), with the best sound and video possible.
HM is right-Video is king. I own both DVD-A and SACD, because I love music and really wanted to hear some of my favorites take advantage of my theater's surround capabilities. But most people can't hear the difference or don't care, and the format war killed them before they could catch on.

With HD DVDs, I agree that Video is king, but this format war is keeping me, a typically early adopter, on the sidelines in this one. For one thing, I have an incredible lumagen processor that makes most DVDs look amazing on my 9 foot screen. I go from DVD to HD programming and noone even notices, especially if it is a good transfer.

I know HD DVD/BD is a serious improvement, but until the market sorts itself out and the format war is over, I'm not jumping in. I have a great catalogue of DVDs and Netflix. I can wait forever. And even if the format issue is resolved, the market will never burn and sizzle like DVD did, because DVD was such a HUGE improvement in every meaningful way over VHS, while HDDVD/BD is still an incremental upgrade by comparison.

My conclusion: Because video is king the HDDVD/BD products will not die like DVD-A/SACD. However, they will never take over the market like DVD did, and will languish as niche players until they sort out the format issue.
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I also own DVD-A and SACD. I bought it for the same reason as Greg099, to listen to my music in the best possible medium. These formats are now relegated to a niche market because the manufacturers could not agree on a common or dual format and bring the price point to a reasonable level. Greg is correct in that most ppl either cannot hear the difference or simply do not care. I do not think it will die because people like me and Greg099 will continue to buy SACDs or DVD-As of artists that continue to utilize either format. But I also agree w/the other posters that video is king. We may not be "joe sixpack", but unless manufacturers create technology that is affordable to him (not us), then the format or technology will never have the type of success needed to give it longevity. One of these formats will survive and while I have frequently been an early adopter, I too am sitting on the sidelines right now. I may jump in next fall if the Samsung combi player is a decent machine and comes in at a reasonable price point.
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I think the other major difference is that most people, on most systems, cannot really differentiate between SACD/DVD-A and CD. The differences between BR/HDDVD and regular DVD are clearly apparent on all but the smallest HDTVs.
Video is different. Neither SACD nor DVD-A compare to the visual aspect of high definition television. Given backward compatibility of high def players, lowering cost, the growing HDTV market and you have a winning formula.
It's all in the name--if there had been only one format that was 6.1 audio and offered 1080p/24 HD video and they had named it Sextraphonic HD--the whole world would have gone hog wild for it!
The video upgrade was apparent after awhile, but not right away, though. Will the mainstream market care, I don't think so.
What I'm wondering is if any of the BD/HDDVD combo players will also be SACD/DVD-A combo players? If it then had good DVD 480i HDMI output (for a scaler) I could replace nearly a third of my rack with one box (throw in DVD recording and I'd be in heaven
)... and I guess retire the LD collection.
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SACD/DVD-A are niche formats which might ultimately fail because of Blu-Ray/HD DVD. There's already at least one (1) Blu-Ray music video title which not only has a 5.1 24/96 PCM soundtrack (perhaps better than most of the current DVD-A soundtracks) but a hi-definition video track. A choice between SACD and a Blu-Ray music hi-def video of the same performance with similar audio quality almost becomes a no-brainer. I might even play the opera game if hi-def video, hi-rez audio starts to show up on the market.

Originally Posted by Taperwood /forum/post/0

In a word, No, IMO. As mentioned, it all boiled down to DRM. The required hoops to jump through in order to properly play SACD and DVD-A were just too many. They were dead formats before they ever got started.

If HDMI had been available when DVD-A/SACD were starting, they might have had a better chance, but I think it was the fact taht you couldn't rip them to a computer and transfer them to a portable player that doomed the Hi-Def audio formats.

Originally Posted by aintnosin /forum/post/0

If HDMI had been available when DVD-A/SACD were starting, they might have had a better chance, but I think it was the fact taht you couldn't rip them to a computer and transfer them to a portable player that doomed the Hi-Def audio formats.

If HDMI was available at that time, I don't think they would have allowed the high-resolution tracks to be sent over HDMI, because of their piracy paranoia. Most universal DVD-A/SACD players right now that have HDMI won't pass the hi-res audio over HDMI; the HDMI is really just for DVDs.
I agree that a quality change in video is noticeable to the average Joe, but how many of those people are making use of their 5.1 setups now that they have been out for 10 years. I mean lots of people have surround sound but how many of them have it hooked up right? Optical/Coaxial cable vs just using 2 RCA's, and then changing their surround option to virtual of some kind. I see the best buy bots not even know how to do this... So when the average person buys an HD player with his HDTV and hooks it up wrong and says damn this just doesn't look much better than DVD and returns it or just keeps it that way. That could pose a problem. The change in formats and quality is great, but the change we have been making in connectors; (Composite, S-Video, Component, DVI, HDMI) some people just don't get it.
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