"No Taste for High-Quality Audio"?

Been meaning to post this link for some time now . . .

Fans of DVD-Audio, SACD, surround sound, and so forth are hereby encouraged to check out No Taste for High-Quality Audio, published recently in the British newspaper The Guardian. It's a pretty neat summation by Jack Schofield, who begins: "Today, we live in a world where poor-quality audio is becoming the norm." Required reading, and reflection.

Note that Schofield calls DVD-Audio "extinct."

That got me thinking: Is he right?

Well, in this country, when it comes to the major-label groups, the format has long been abandoned by Universal, EMI, and (after the Sony merger) BMG. And of course, Sony never supported DVD-A.

That leaves Warner, the format's original champion. But these days, whenever it puts out new releases or (via Rhino) reissues, any bonus DVD discs are DVD-Video, not DVD-Audio. Case in point: Björk, our poster girl shown above. She herself may indeed have a genuine taste for high-quality audio. But whereas the Doors boxed set Perception included DVD-A, the Björk brick of DualDiscs called Surrounded was DVD-V (as was the first Genesis box). And now Björk's current CD, Volta, has a Limited Edition - but it, too, is DVD-V. (Stay tuned for Parke Puterbaugh's "Tracking Surround" review in the November issue.) And all the Depeche Mode reissues (reviewed here and here) are DVD-V. So, Warner and Rhino indeed seem to have given up on DVD-Audio.

Now, that's what I call, basically, extinct.

But maybe not entirely. After all, a band like Porcupine Tree is to be commended for insisting on audiophile sound - to the point where, on September 25, the band itself is reissuing its current album, Fear of a Blank Planet, on DVD-Audio.

So, faithful readers, as long as anyone releases surround mixes on DVD-A or SACD, we'll be covering them in the pages and on the Web site of Sound & Vision. Because we'll never lose our taste for high-quality audio. -Ken Richardson

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