While the audio pundits argue the viability of multi-channel audio and debate the utility and functionality of the new DualDisc CD/DVD hybrid, two entertainment industry powerhouses -- EMI Music and DTS Entertainment -- have quietly reaffirmed their commitment to multi-channel audio with seven new DVD-Audio titles.
Representing some of the top artists from EMI's back catalog as well as current releases, the new titles include albums by N.E.R.D., Cassandra Wilson, David Bowie, Simple Minds and The Thrills. Bearing the "DTS Signature Series" logo, each DVD-Audio disc is created by the DTS Entertainment production team, and offers exclusive 5.1 surround sound re-mixes plus a variety of bonus features, including videos, artist biographies, photo galleries, lyrics and more. In addition to the DVD-Audio layers (which require a DVD-Audio compatible player for playback), each disc features a multi-channel DTS Audio track that will play back on any standard DVD player.
The new titles are:
N.E.R.D. In Search Of...
These join existing DTS Signature Series titles: Everclear's So Much For The Afterglow, Medeski, Martin and Wood's Uninvisible, and Megadeth's Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?
"EMI Music and DTS together have been championing surround music, and the 'DTS Signature Series' represents our commitment to the continuing growth of the next generation of music," said Jeff Skillen, vice president, Pro Audio and Technology Evangelism at DTS. "These releases are great examples of how surround sound can enhance the listening experience, and we look forward to working on more titles from EMI."
I checked out the new N.E.R.D. and Simple Minds discs at a press event in New York in February and I have to say the surround mixes sounded phenomenal. I was a big fan of Simple Minds in the 80s and hearing these brand new multi-channel mixes reminded me of why I liked them so much - funky grooves, driving rhythms, ethereal keyboards and edgy vocals. EMI also included the original music videos for classics like Promised You a Miracle and Alive and Kicking that led to much mirth and hearty giggles among the assembled press and industry folks -- nothing says 1982 like a Simple Minds video. Poofy hair, glittery shirts, prismatic camera effects -- I mean what were they thinking?
Well the videos may be dated but the music's still cool, and now even better in multi-channel surround. I hope EMI and DTS are commercially successful with these discs so that other labels will follow suit and increase their output of multi-channel music titles. I'm optimistic... but I'm not holding my breath.
Editor's note, the recently released Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group that represents approximately 90 percent of all legitimate sound recordings produced and sold in the United States, has released 2004 sales figures and virtually every category shows loss. This includes CD single, cassette, LP/EP vinyl, DVD-Audio and SACD. A bright spots include a staggering 66 percent increase in DVD music video sales! CD sales were up 2.8 percent, DVD-Audio fell 20.6 percent, SACD sales fell 39.6 percent, and vinyl LPs/EPs declined 11.9 percent.