Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, surround-sound music looked like the next big thing, but in the intervening decade and a half, precious little rock, jazz, or world music has been recorded in surround. True, in the early days of SACD and DVD-Audio formats there were hundreds of remixes of older stereo recordings, and some were recycled on Blu-ray, but the number of newly recorded 5.1 titles remains paltry. Looking back, the early 2000s should have been an ideal time to launch surround music; multichannel home theater was peaking, so there was a large number of households … Read more
There's no sense denying vinyl's imperfections. First there are the noise issues -- pops, clicks, and rumble -- and they all get a little worse every time you play an LP. Then there are problems with speed stability, off-center pressings, warped records, less than accurate vinyl and phono cartridge frequency response curves, poor stereo separation, and limited dynamic range. That was all true back in 1983, and digital has only improved since then. So why are vinyl sales up year after year since the early 2000s?
Most formats wither and die soon after the replacement format takes over … Read more
At first blush you might think the Audiophiliac would be thrilled to hear the news about the Universal Music Group's new High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-rays -- and I would be, if I didn't know how this story plays out. In 1999 and 2000, the original high-resolution SACD and DVD-Audio formats debuted and quickly faltered. Then the record labels tried again with the DualDisc format in 2004, and that one came and went so fast most people didn't even know it existed. I heard a lot of those discs, and I didn't feel that most (but … Read more
At the end of May, Onkyo will start selling Dolby TrueHD 5.1-channel music downloads, first in Japan, and by the fall of this year worldwide. That's either a brave or foolhardy move.
Multichannel music formats -- starting with quadraphonic LPs and tapes in the early 1970s, DTS encoded surround CDs in the 1990s, and DVD Audio and SACD in the early 2000s -- have all suffered from a lack of consumer demand. Very, very few surround releases were initially recorded in surround; most rock and jazz titles are remixed from older stereo recordings. The Blu-ray format has now … Read more
Quadraphonic was the first music surround format, and the first to bite the dust. That was in the 1970s. The SACD and DVD-A formats debuted at the dawn of the century, promising vastly improved sound quality over the CD, and both formats flopped. Their futures looked bright, so why did they fail?
Of course the record labels knew selling a new format on the basis of sound quality was a risky business, so they tacked on 5.1 surround sound. There were millions of households in the early 2000s with multichannel home theaters, so selling new music surround formats looked … Read more
Digital audio won the popularity contest years ago, and nowadays almost every sound you hear coming out of a speaker is digitally encoded. Sound is always digital, whether it's on your phone, computer, radio, TV, home theater, or in a concert hall. I'd go so far as to say most people never hear analog recordings anymore. Unless you're a musician, or live with one, virtually all the music you hear live or recorded is digital.
Digital audio eliminated all of analog audio's distortions and noise-related problems. In that sense digital is "perfect." When analog … Read more
For those of you with older receivers lacking HDMI connectivity, or perhaps for audiophiles with stereo home theater systems, the Oppo BD-83 Special Edition player is for you.
You see, the new Oppo player handles the digital-to-analog conversion at a higher standard than the original--and still available--BD-83 player. So rather than use its HDMI connectivity you hookup the Special Edition's eight analog (7.1) outputs to the multichannel inputs on older receivers or sound processors. Don't worry if your receiver is limited to 5.1, the Special Edition will work perfectly well with those systems. The Special Edition … Read more
It's safe to say most, I mean like 99 percent, of music buyers don't give a hoot about sound quality. Why else would CD sales continue to plummet and worse than CD quality downloads go up every year?
OK, that's the mainstream, what about the other 1 percent; why have the audiophiles, according to a poll on the Stereophile website, already given up on SACD and DVD-Audio? Before I cite their feedback I'd like to point out that despite the naysayers, the super sound formats are still hanging on. Neil Young's latest release, "Chrome … Read more