Naxos Covers the High-Rez Bases

Some months back, a poll at the Naxos of America website asked visitors about their preferences among high-resolution and multichannel formats. At that time, Naxos had been releasing DVD-As (and DVDs) in the US, but only released SACDs elsewhere.

The poll results in this uncontrolled sample indicated a clear preference for SACD. Consequently, Naxos€™ US April releases will be available in both formats and, at least for the foreseeable future, the company will duplicate its multichannel releases in SACD and DVD-A.

The first three SACD releases, Holst's The Planets (6.110004), Rachmaninov's Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3 (6.110013), and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 7, "Leningrad" (6.110020), are also offered as DVD-As (just change the initial 6. to a 5. to get the DVD-A catalog number). The Holst was released as a DVD-A in the US quite a while back. The other two feature the Russian State Symphony Orchestra under Dimitry Yablonsky, the team responsible for an earlier outstanding DVD-A of Shostakovich€™s Jazz Suites and other pieces (5.110006).

Additional DVD-A releases for April include Mozart's Flute Concertos (5.110055) and Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony (5.110016). Can the SACDs be far behind? Future promised releases include works by Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and Sibelius. MSRP is $14.99 per disc in either format.

Naxos of America€™s manager of publicity and promotions, Rebecca Davis, put it this way: "Naxos recognizes that different consumers have different preferences about surround formats, and we are committed to letting each consumer decide which is best for them. That is why we have decided to release recordings in both SACD and DVD-A. A few years ago, when Naxos first started releasing surround-sound recordings, it looked like DVD-Audio was going to be the superior format, but with the proliferation of SACD, it is important that we stay on top of technological advances and consumer trends in order to get our music heard by the widest possible audience in the most realistic sound available."

Proponents of each format may point to the adoption of either SACD or DVD-A by a recording label as indicative of the triumph of their favorite, but it is clear that neither has yet trumped the other. Labels have changed sides before and now we have one that is straddling the gap. While this will certainly open up the small but growing high-resolution, multichannel classical market for Naxos, it also may help to resolve the issue of which format will survive. Hypercritical audiophiles can buy both formats in order to compare SACDs with DVD-As of the same performance, and Naxos€™ dual releases let the wider music-buying public vote with its purchases. Now, that€™s a meaningful poll!

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