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Sources Say Warner Music To Proceed With Flip Disc Without DVD Forum Approval Print E-mail
Friday, 31 October 2003
AudioRevolution.com has learned from a reliable source that Warner Music (WEA) plans to forge ahead with a DVD-Audio/CD “flip disc” without approval from the DVD Forum. Without approval, the disc might not be able to be called a “DVD” but will play in every DVD-Audio, DVD-Video player, Xbox and Playstation 2, as well as in every CD player currently installed in consumers’ homes and cars.

The new disc will compete with the “Hybrid” SACD which can be played on all CD players, as well as in high-resolution SACD players in both stereo and surround sound. Hybrid SACD is an approved and commercially successful format that is already being distributed by the SACD camp for artists like Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones. Hybrid SACD, unlike a DVD, cannot easily synch to video, which limits the added value possibilities on the format. Hybrid SACDs are also not backwards-compatible in surround sound to over 60,000,000 DVD-Video players and an even larger number of Playstation 2 and Xbox systems. Supposedly, the DVD Forum’s concern was over the DVD-Audio/CD flip disc’s reliability. Unlike Hybrid SACDs, which are of a standard thickness, the early flip discs – AudioRevolution.com has obtained an early sample – are thicker than a standard CD. Fears are the flip discs will jam in the millions of front-loading car CD players. AudioRevolution.com has learned that one of the latest versions of a DVD-Audio/CD flip disc has recently been independently tested in hundreds of DVD and CD players with only a handful of failures. None of the failures were reportedly in car players. Most problems were with a CD layer not playing on some DVD-Video players.

A WEA spokesperson, when asked to comment on the topic, said, "We never comment on the company's future plans, but would like to point out that Warner Music Group has been an avid supporter of the DVD-Audio format since its launch three years ago, in line with our belief that a DVD-based audio format offers consumers a superior listening experience with added visual capabilities. We're always looking at new technologies and consistently explore innovative ways to provide consumers greater value and quality.”

Students of the audio format war say WEA is trying to force the issue of their disc with the Forum because they are losing ground to SACD in the minds of consumers who see new tiles from better artists, albeit many are stereo-only re-releases, on the competing hybrid SACD media. Another issue that makes the flip disc’s arrival time-sensitive is the need to be able to press enough flip discs in order to replace CDs in the retail distribution chain with flip discs. Time Warner recently sold off its CD manufacturing business, but is rumored to have a deal with WEA to produce the new disc in the tens of millions of units per year range.

Late this summer, a consultant that works with WEA on the DVD-Audio project, publicly told independent record dealers that they would have multi-label support for their flip disc by as soon as the 2003 holiday season. That timetable is unlikely at this point but there seems to be some traction to some of his predictions. This is with or without the blessings of the DVD Forum.

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