Sony and Philips Announce Version 1.0 of SACD Specification

Last week, Philips Electronics and Sony Corporation announced the completion of Version 1.0 of the Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) format specification. According to a statement, the format specification will be released to licensees early this month to allow hardware manufacturers and software providers to begin preparing products for launch in the coming months.

"We are very pleased to be announcing version 1.0 of the Super Audio CD specification," said Wally Heijnemans, Director of standards R&D within Philips System Standards & Licensing. "Achieving this milestone allows manufacturers and record companies to start making final products for the consumer." The first SACD players and related consumer products are expected to be launched on the Japanese market later this spring, and product launches in Europe and the US are expected to begin toward the end of the year.

SACD and the recently completed DVD-Audio spec (see previous article) have been battling each other in recent months for the position of the next-generation high-quality audio format. Both formats promise high-resolution digital audio, two or more channels, and various copyright-protection schemes. The SACD format will be backward-compatible with current CD players, claim Philips and Sony. The companies also say the SACD incorporates "advanced copy-protection and anti-piracy features, such as visible and invisible watermarking, which were designed in response to strong requests from the music industry."

According to both companies, a variety of prototype Direct Stream Digital (DSD) production tools are currently available, and a full range of professional audio equipment is under development. Sony says that several professional audio companies have already announced products that can be used for DSD production, including high-performance A/D and D/A converters, a professional DSD recorder, and a professional DSD editor.