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Sony blew it by not releasing an abundance of SACD rock titles

I believe that SACD and SACD multi-channel have missed the boat with the paucity of this genre to the detriment and demise of the format itself. For sure classical music listeners have always benefited first and most from cutting edge audio technology. Classical music ushered in LP, CD, and SACD and SACD multi-channel. But Sony screwed up big time by giving short shrift to rock, pop, and R&B when launching SACD. The Sony catalog alone is flush with these entire genres much recorded during the multi-channel (quad) era. All music lovers, including classical music lovers have been collateral victims of this miscalculation.

While I am a classical music listener foremost my formative music experiences are firmly rooted in R&B with generous helpings of jazz, pop, and some rock. And as a videographer I have been to numerous rock concerts and rock venues. I will be attending one on July 31 in support of my son’s best friend who is a drummer in an up and coming local hard rock group.

Classical music listeners benefit most from multi-channel due to the more realistic capturing and reproduction of an actual venue “space”. The same applies for jazz......big time. I think rock’s chief benefit, though, from multi-channel is from the “artist creativity” aspects of the final product. Multi-channel unleashes the creative shackles, for better or for worse, of the artist and the engineer. We both appreciate the huge difference in the listening experience between stereo and multi-channel classical music. But it pales by comparison when talking about a rock recording. I have done on-the-fly A/B comparisons with much, if not all, the MC rock in my collection and the differences are astonishing.....for some listeners maybe too much of a good thing. And this is usually done without “abusing” the technology. So, artistically, you get the sense that this (MC) was what the artist was attempting to do all along but could not pull it off in stereo. But sonically, there is, too, a tremendous upside with multi-channel rock. It is simply far more “open” than that same disc could possibly be when played in the same system.

Capturing a live event whether rock concert or classical music concert have far more spatial similarities than differences. And so multi-channel unmistakably enhances the palpability of a live R&B or rock concert. A few years ago I submitted a review at SA-CD.net of a live Earth, Wind and Fire concert, “Gratitude” which at the time gave me the most “you are there” experience of any disc I had heard to date.(Whoa! I see that the asking price for that SACD is $181.12 used at Amazon.com).

So, I can’t see how a rock listener would “prefer” stereo over multi-channel when listening to the same disc in the same system., just as they would not prefer mono over stereo. Sure, there may be individual discs where the listener my disagree with what the artist and/or engineer intended, but on the whole 5 channels is *far* superior than 2 in the same system that is implemented to do both well. Of course, given the dearth of rock titles I understand why most rock listeners have voted with their feet and left SACD.

Robert C. Lang

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