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Audio Format War Could Be Settled During The Holidays Print E-mail
Monday, 10 September 2001
The audio format war has heated up at the end of the Summer of 2001, the lines being drawn in the sand however industry icons think that the final battle will be waged this holiday season. Proponents of both SACD and DVD-Audio agree that neither format has taken the world by storm in its first year on the streets. The music industry’s insistence on forcing copy protection and a lack of a digital transmission method has hurt both formats badly. The earliest of adopters have chosen sides but the general public is holding out because of the need to replace not just a CD or DVD player but the additional expense of a new receiver (or AV preamp), more expensive cables (3 pairs for 5.1 analog connections) – not to mention buying all new software or upgrading to a complete 5.1 audio system.

The cost has been too high so far however both the software and hardware manufactures are sweetening the pot. SACD players are down to around $500 for consumer ready units with backwards compatibility to traditional CDs. First generation DVD-Audio players are selling for less than $300 at Costco in Southern California.

Second generation DVD-Audio players are offering more consumer friendly options like 400 disc changers and Faroudja progressive (line doubled) video outputs for under $1,500. Asian electronics manufactures are now running on nine to 12 month product cycles thus its is likely to see DVD-Audio as an option on even the lower priced DVD-Video players from Asia sometime after the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in early January 2002.

"It is awfully premature for anyone to spend a lot of time discussing the future of DVD-Audio versus SACD, until after the upcoming Holiday season." says David Del Grosso, Vice President of Marketing at DTS Entertainment. "Then, and only then will the competitive differences become clear enough to justify such time consuming debates."

Del Grosso went on to say "If mega-hit titles with great 5.1 surround mixes enter the market on DVD-Audio before Thanksgiving, then the 30 million owners of DVD (ready) home theaters, DVD car and DVD PC players, will buy tons of discs, and ensure a rosy future for this slow-starting format. On the other hand, to bet your reputation on the bold claim that millions of consumers will instead choose to add SACD players into their home theaters, car audio systems, and PC workstations, is either amazingly clairvoyant, or extremely naive. And to bet the farm that the SACD format will flourish as an "audiophile" format for high-end consumers who just want to listen to high-resolution pressings, is downright ignorant, considering the economic pressures facing today's hardware and software suppliers."

Things are heating up and consumers are weary of making a foolish investment. They remember Beta versus VHS and are dead set against potentially making the same mistake twice. Time will tell how things will develop between Labor Day and Christmas. If either format can make a breakthrough then, they could run with the momentum to a long term success.

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