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Elvis High Quality

By Andy Pendl, AustriaDec 12, 2003
BMG is trying a lot harder with Elvis than they have done in the past. I'm not satisfied (it's impossible to satisfy anybody!) - all in all we cannot always complain. But, I do have a big wish for BMG: Serve us with high quality – use the modern technology such as HDCD, DAV-Audio and SACD! (Abbreviations being explained below)

We all buy the same songs on every new compilation (exceptions are great box sets with alternates like "Today, Tomorrow And Forever", "Close Up"...!). I appreciate the new DSD technique, but that's not enough! The CD is an old standard from 1981 with just 16bit and 44,1KHz. Due to data compression the dynamic of the sound cannot compete with the good old analog recordings on vinyl. By the way, speaking about vinyl, it's great that some of the new releases are available on vinyl, too! But, I'm still missing the 70’s box set “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” on vinyl!

Apart from the CD there are better digital techniques available. With more digital information than the 16bit/44,1 KHz from the CD, you come nearer to get the body, depth and emotion of the original performance - not a flat, digital imitation. The master tapes can now be remastered with 24bit and 192 KHz, but remastering alone is almost no win in sound quality, if it's just stored on CD. The right media for this is DVD-AUDIO or SACD, at least HDCD. Players - even multi-format players - are affordable meanwhile.
In 2002 BMG had decided to support DVD-Audio and released the great "Elv1s 30#1 Hits" in this format. Since the announcement to merge with Sony Music the big music companies work together closer. So, the future high quality disc format for Elvis recordings may be the SACD forced by Sony and Philips.

No matter how it will come, the new "2nd To None" album should be released on DVD -Audio and/or SACD as soon as possible. In Asia (mainly China) BMG and also Universal Music have released Elvis two compilations on HDCDs at last, which can be played on every CD or DVD player. (Using a player with HDCD decoder you can hear the bigger dynamic of 20bits.) What is with the rest of the world?

I do not want to buy expensive CDs with just fair quality and Copy Control which makes troubles on several DVD-Players and Car Systems (like the new "Christmas Peace" does on my Toshiba DVD-Audio player). The music industry complains about less sales since Internet, MP3, CD-/DVD-burning … In my opinion MP3, WMA, AAC and other compressed formats are just possibilities for the Internet and computers. For good HiFi Stereo or Digital Audio/Video multi-channel systems all these formats including the regular CD is too weak nowadays. To stay compatible with CD-Players, record companies could use the "DVD-Plus" / "Dual-Disc" or Hybrid-SACD which can be played on all CD/DVD players. Another great feature that is used much too rare is "CD-/DVD-TEXT". Many players can show the title of the tracks and further information while playing.

That's service to the customer and not the copy controls. Good quality, comfortable and compatible technology is available, so use it BMG! But that is just my opinion.

Explanation:
CD = Compact Disc – exact term is CD-DA = Compact Disc Digital Audio. Sound encoded with 16bit and 44,1KHz.
Founded by Philips in the 70s, merger with Sony in 1979, world standard since 1981, first players 1982/1983.

DVD-Audio – a DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) with much better sound and higher storage capacity. Data is stored with 24bit and 96 or 192 KHz. Capable of multi-channel sound (5.1).
Can be played on DVD-players only. If the DVD player has no DVD-Audio decoder you here a down-mix with the regular 16bit/44,1KHz. Forced by the DVD-forum (Matsushita, Panasonic, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, JVC…), since 1996

DVD-Plus or DUAL-DISC – a disc with two sides – one side is a DVD-Audio, the other one a CD.

SACD – Super Audio CD – a CD with much better sound.
24bit / more than 100KHz. Capable of multi-channel sound (5.1). Can be played on every CD or DVD-players. If the player has no SACD decoder you here a down-mix with the regular 16bit/44,1KHz. Forced by Sony and Philips, launched in 1999

Hybrid SACD – a CD with 2 layers – one contains the high resolution, the other the regular one.

HDCD = High Definition Compatible Digital –
Model 1 - 20bit and 44,1KHz
Model 2 - 24bit and up to 192KHz
2-channel stereo, no multi-channel sound. Can be played on every CD or DVD-players. If the player has no HDCD decoder you here the regular 16bit/44,1KHz. Founded in 1996 by Pacific Microsonics, Inc. (PMI). In September 2000, Microsoft Corporation acquired PMI. Microsoft continues to incorporate PMI's pioneering technology into offerings for the PC.

DSD = Direct Stream Digital - audio recording technique, no disc format.

CD-TEXT – Additional information to the single tracks which can be displayed when the player supports this format. Sony is the founder of this technique. Maybe, we'll get Elvis CDs with CD-TEXT, when BMG and SONY will have been allowed to merge.
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Reactions

loc1035 (profilecontact) wrote on Oct 23, 2004report abuse
The problem with the new formats is that they are about to be replaced! Blue Laser, or DVD2, will be the next format war. Interestingly DVD2 has no provision for DSD (SACD format) in the initial spec. Maybe 'DualDisc' is the answer with CD on side one and DVD A on side 2 (Sony are backing this along with nearly all record companies). I believe there is no longer any development going on with SACD whatsoever. what a great industry for shooting themselves in the foot every time!
JerryNodak (profilecontact) wrote on Jun 2, 2004report abuse
Lawman: Unless something happens at the last minute to
scuttle the deal(which I doubt)BMG and Sony will merge.
Thus ending(I believe) RCA's flirtation with DVD-A.I'm not buying any new equipment until the industry settles on some sort of standard(if then). As you point out I find
CD-quality more than enough.
mrstats (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 31, 2003report abuse
Remastering is the key! The format will help somewhat, but the biggest bang for your buck is remastering from the original master tapes by people like Steve Hoffman and Vic Anesini. Steve Hoffman remastered "Elvis is Back" and "24 Karat Hits". The sound on both of these CDs is awesome. It really beats the RCA stuff. Vic Anesini remastered 3 of the 4 discs in "Elvis Close Up". Again, the sound is incredible. I really don't think SACD or DVD-Audio alone will produce better sound. It has the potential to offer better sound, but the important part is the remastering.
I hope that Vic Anesini continues to work with the entire Elvis catalog. I would love to see him remaster Elvis for SACD.
Mathias (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 15, 2003report abuse
Dear Andy, congrats, I can only fully support your article and every word you said. Seems that since E1 it`s "trying time" at BMG. The HDCD-Versions you mentioned are counterfeits, pirate pressings or bootlegs or how ever you want to call it, at least they are not official releases. I think to sastisfy everyone, Hybride SACD could be the answer. I would release them in the following manner: 1 . Layer, 16 Bit, original first generation mastertape, transfered using DSD, but no new mixes or remixes or remastering! 2. Layer, High Resolution SACD remixed and remastered using first generation mastertapes (Mono) or sessiontapes ( multitrack). 3. Layer, Surround Mix. I guess this would make the conserative hardcore Fans as happy as well as the more inovative High End Freaks like me. Keep on complaining and demanding! Once again great article, one of the best I`ve ever found here.
Lawman (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 13, 2003report abuse
Well, the first thing that needs to be done is finally settle on a new industry standard. Is it going to be DVD-A or SACD? BMG "officially" supports DVD-A, but RCA recently released two SACD-discs. It is rumoured that BMG and Sony Music are going to merge, shifting BMG into the SACD-camp, but then again there are a lot of rumours going on. Secondly, a lot of Elvis-material isn't suited to a multi-channel treatment, so God forbid they're going down that road (as exemplified by the damning reviews of the "30 no. 1 hits" DVD-A). I'm not saying there isn't potential in the new formats, but most people find CD-quality more than enough (even, dare I say the word?, MP3). That's always going to be a problem when you're a hifi-buff.

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