It's hard enough for established record labels both big and small these days. With the high-resolution audio formats SACD and DVD-Audio still fighting each other and struggling to launch, picking sides is an even bigger gamble for a brand-new record label's first releases.
Last week at the Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York City, Sonic Solutions announced that it plans to introduce what it says is the world's first digital audio workstation based on Sony's new Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology. Sonic says that the new system, SonicStudio HD-DSD, is being developed in cooperation with Sony Corporation and will provide the recording industry with a mastering tool for the new Super Audio CD (SACD) format.
At the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show in January—see the report in this issue—Sony and Philips held an SACD Event at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. There were trippy lights. There were the Grand Pooh-Bahs of Sony, Philips, and the record labels. There was loud multichannel Big Brother and the Holding Company. And there was Sony's main SACD man in the US, David Kawakami, supplying the pep talk.
Those who spurn audio discs with built-in restriction technologies should take note: SunnComm Technologies announced last week that its MediaMax CD-3 technology has been utilized to restrict the content on Ike and Tina Turner's new compilation CD entitled The Early Sessions.
If you haven't seen much in the mainstream press about the new satellite radio services from XM and Sirius, both poised to launch before the end of the year, you soon will. First out of the chute with the big media bucks, XM Satellite Radio unveiled last week its national advertising campaign called "Radio to the Power of X."
Choice is generally considered a plus, but as many of our readers note, when it comes to audio, a format war is the last thing consumers need. While the DVD-A/SACD conflict takes the center audio stage, other technology battles are being fought off in the wings, including the satellite radio format tussle 'twixt XM and Sirius.
Now is clearly crunch time for satellite radio. In the last year alone, over one million new subscribers have been added to front-runner XM Satellite Radio's service, bringing its total to approximately 1.4 million. The company projects that it will reach a total of 2.4 million subscribers by the end of 2004, thus ensuring its survival.
Earlier this month, DirecTV announced that it is investing $50 million in XM Satellite Radio in an effort to capitalize on direct satellite-to-receiver broadcasting technology, which is intended to provide listeners in the car and at home with up to 100 channels of music, news, and entertainment available in North America. Additional XM investors include General Motors, Clear Channel Communications, and a private investment group.
Though I was in the Avatar room asking about new digital products, somehow this one was missed, so thanks to Jason Serinus for coming up with a photo for me. There was also a little confusion about the name of the product, but we're going with Scaena Mainframe for now.
The company info says that the new server plays all formats of audio and video and features an aluminum enclosure with liquid cooling, Xenon processor, "error correcting" RAM, and a custom 7" touch tablet to run everything. The Mainframe also runs off of a lithium battery power supply that can go for up to 12 hours on a charge.