Multichannel Audio Report Card (2001) Page 5

Sony has been the most aggressive advertiser by far, taking out multiple-page ads in audio magazines as well as in the music issue of The New Yorker and widely read newpapers like The New York Times. The Japanese A/V giant hopes to set up 1,000 kiosks over the next few months to disseminate information about available SACD hardware and software. It's also including an SACD sampler with all its SACD-capable DVD and CD players and systems.

Surprisingly, the DVD-Audio troops haven't countered with any significant advertising. Jordan Rost, in charge of Warner Music's DVD-Audio enclave, feels that getting people to actually hear the format is better than having them read about it, so he's been concentrating on setting up listening demonstrations. Warner's excellent Web site (dvdaudiopreview.com), has a link to a Panasonic site that lists demo locations. Rost's next thrust will be to have DVD-Audio multichannel listening kiosks installed in record stores. He's also pushing to include samplers with DVD-Video players to give people an idea what the mixes sound like and to let them know the discs can play on their current gear.

It's too bad that the DVD-Audio folks haven't made much of an effort to piggyback on the success of DVD-Video. Since SACD is being touted as the "purist" format, with its discs free of extras, it makes sense for its supporters to advertise primarily in audio-related publications. But DVD-Audio has potentially broader appeal, so it might be a good idea to reach out to the video fans who are already gobbling up DVD-Videos - especially music discs.

Both camps have done a good job of getting the word out via the Internet. In addition to Warner's Web site, you'll find that Sony has an equally effective one for SACD at sony.com/sacd. Chesky has a refreshingly lucid explanation of DVD-Audio on its site (chesky.com), as does AIX (aixrecords.com). You'll find a list of new DVD-A releases at dvdinformation.com. In fact, every software label affiliated with either format has a first-rate site.

It's not likely that either SACD or DVD-Audio will go away anytime soon. Representatives from both camps promise increased momentum with releases and advertising going into the holiday season and on to next year, so both grades could improve significantly if manufacturers and labels stay true to their word. - Rad Bennett

Final Grade: DVD-Audio: C SACD: C Both of our young scholars have earned themselves a solid C - not what you'd expect from two students with such distinguished backgrounds and obvious potential. With everything they have to offer, you can't help but root for both formats to do well. But at the same time, you can't help but wish there was only one. Maybe next year will bring unification, or possibly a flood of players able to play both formats - but don't bet on it. To all you fence sitters: make yourselves comfortable and enjoy the view. And to all those adventurous souls about to take the plunge: expect some bumps along the way, but rest assured that the experience will be more than worth the aggravation. - M.G.


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