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DualDisc Perks Up as SACD and DVD-Audio Die Off  Print E-mail
Home Theater News Music - Technology News
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Thursday, 03 March 2005

In the wake of the format war between DVD-Audio and SACD where no side could even come close to claiming any level of victory, the hybrid format of DualDisc (CD on one side and DVD on the other) is suddenly showing signs of life. Yesterday, March 2, a record critic analyst from Clear Channel Radio was on CNN’s Headline News, talking about J-Lo’s new album and how radio-friendly it was. Rebirth, the new album from Jennifer Lopez on Epic Records, is being released as a DualDisc, according to the source from Clear Channel. The significance isn’t a bunch of audiophiles rushing to Tower Records to hear the latest high-resolution surround sound from Jenny from the Block – what is important is that mainstream America is hearing about a new high-performance audio format that is being supported by all four major labels. They are hearing about the video goodies on the disc. With backwards compatibility to DVD players, they might even have a chance to hear the record in surround sound as home theater systems become more and more prevalent, especially as HDTV sets are selling by the millions every month.

Sources in the world of high-fidelity audio in the U.K. tell AVRev.com that the DualDisc format is launching in Europe this week, which is another positive move forward for this innovation. American music consumers tend to be a bit more disposable in their approach to buying and using music, as proven by their quick support for downloadable music and iPods over the now-outdated compact disc. Many Europeans still are emotionally entrenched with stereo formats, but will quickly find the video added-values and surround sound audio to add significant value to their music purchases.

Other sources suggest the Montreal-based band Simple Plan has become the first platinum-selling DualDisc title. No SACD or DVD-Audio title has ever sold anywhere near 1,000,000 copies in the United States. In the first and second quarters of 2004, DVD-Audio and SACD combined sold just over 600,000 discs total. The way things work in the music business is, as soon as anyone is successful with a new sound or a new format or a new anything, everyone copies it. With reports of returns very low for DualDisc, music and audio enthusiasts might look for more and more new and back catalogue titles recorded on DualDisc coming to stores and online venues.

The lesson of SACD and DVD-Audio is that consumers are in control, no matter how much the labels or media conglomerates want to deny it. Despite the obvious audio improvements heard on DVD-Audio and SACD, mainstream customers said they were unwilling to risk making hundreds if not thousands of dollars in equipment upgrades along with complicated cable connections for no more than a few hundred good titles split between two formats that didn’t always play in the same player. The value simply wasn’t there for a $18.95 disc when a two-hour movie could be had on DVD-Video for $24.95, complete with added values and a surround sound mix. Today, the result is that SACD is dead and DVD-Audio as its own disc is seemingly right behind it. DVD-Video is still selling amazingly well and Apple is selling iPods by the millions.

With the support of all four major labels, DualDisc has a chance to sell music to customers in a way that has more value than a 20-year-old CD or some lousy-sounding MP3 download for their iPod that could be lost in a hard drive crash. The potential in terms of marketing and consumer acceptance is there. However, the risk is placed squarely on the shoulders of the major record labels in terms of releasing enough good titles with lots of added values, including high-resolution surround and video goodies. If the labels do this, they might find that consumers still like to physically own their music collections and might be willing to buy them over again on DualDisc if the added values are strong and the price for the disc is significantly lower than that of the average DVD.







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