This Month's Featured Equipment Reviews
How High-Res Movie Discs Can Save The Concept of a Record Album
Home Theater News Industry-Trade News
Written by Jerry Del Colliano
Thursday, 16 March 2006
more I learn about Blu-ray and HD-DVD, the more I can see tremendous
potential for the reproduction of movies, but beyond that, I can see
one of these formats perhaps saving the ailing music business as well.
The record business has established itself decades ago as a ship
without a rudder in terms of creating compelling new content to sell to
consumers. It lived on free advertising from terrestrial radio and MTV
for 20-plus years without really having to ever be in the “superior”
content business, such as what is often seen from Hollywood and the
videogame content developers.
the major record labels, if consumers force a format down their throat,
they will work with it. CD was adopted by popular demand and out of
convenience, resulting in labels profiting vastly by reselling their
entire catalogue of albums that were paid for and developed long ago.
Today, MP3s are the dominant force in the music business, thanks to
consumers forcing Napster on labels and artists in the late 1990s.
Instead of embracing downloads early and/or upping the value of the
discs they sold, perhaps with DVD-Audio, SACD or even DVD-Video for
music, the industry executives did the only thing they know how to do –
they rolled over and played dead, while Hollywood and the video game
industry eat their lunches. But believe it or not, all is not lost.
While a mindless and needless format war is about to stage its first
battles this spring and into the summer, the fact remains that the two
battling HD movie disc formats (Blu-ray and HD-DVD) offer incredible
levels of storage, resulting in entertainment options on a physical
disc not previously available to consumers. HD movies are a start.
Video games for systems like Playstation 3 (based on Blu-ray and slated
for release later in 2006) will come next, but what will record
companies do to sell us music in HD?
With the storage capacity on Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs far exceeding
that of DVDs, DVD-Audio or SACD discs, the possibilities are powerful.
For example, on a Blu-ray movie disc that has HD video content, you can
get 24-bit 192 kHz audio that is literally uncompressed and at the
highest-resolution stereo you will find anywhere. A video editor close
to AVRev.com is currently using professional video and audio editing
tools to pair very high-resolution still photos with ultra-high
resolution audio tracks to make an HD slide show to go with 24-192
audio. For difficult-to-remaster albums (think Are You Experienced? and
Sgt. Pepper’s), wouldn’t you want to watch never-before-seen images of
the band while hearing the music at resolutions never before available
for music enthusiasts.
You ask: can average consumers hear the difference between 20-bit 48
kHz stereo (found commonly on DualDisc) and 24-192? Without question,
and if they have a Playstation 3, they will have a $499 (this is what
they speculate the price will be) player that can deliver the audio
high life right into any modern stereo or theater system. When plugged
into an HDTV, you get incredible HD content (albeit not a movie or
concert footage – which should be released soon thereafter), but you
get raw audio that is perfect to run into your matrix surround modes.
Today’s best surround modes from Dolby and DTS are capable of making a
pretty believable surround sound experience for you to enjoy.
Ultimately, the music industry needs to learn to create music videos in
HD that are paired with the entire album, much like Pink Floyd did with
the feature film release of “The Wall.” Instead of blowing $6,000,000
on some bling-bling Jenny-From-Around-The-Block music video, hire a
real director and have him or her work with the artist to use the new
HD audio and video technologies to inspire the art of making music.
Something has to inspire today’s artists, as the yearly sales of music
shrivels away from a historic high of over 30 billion dollars annually
to a reported 11 billion in sales this year. The tools are out there.
The question is, are the labels humble enough to realize that selling
downloads is killing the art of music on their watch?