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Leading stakeholders in the Super Audio CD format introduction project have expressed surprise at information published last week by the DVD-Audio Council. The Council claims that a US consumer survey for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) indicates that DVD-Audio out sold SA-CD in 2003 by a factor of five to one. However, this news contradicts the RIAA’s own information displayed on its website, which shows SA-CD sales some three times higher than DVD-Audio sales in the same time period. It also shows that DVD-Audio sales decreased last year, relative to sales in 2002.

“Whilst we can understand the DVD-Audio Council’s desire to present its format in the best light, we believe it is important not to mislead the music industry at this important time,” commented David Walstra, Director, Sony Super Audio CD Business Centre (Europe). “If you look at the facts on a global basis, they just don’t stack with the story being presented by the DVD-Audio Council.”

The Council reports that there are over 730 titles DVD-Audio titles currently available. This compares with 2037 (source: SA-CD albums from more than 130 record labels including every major record company and a diversity of leading Indies covering every music genre. Many of these SA-CD album releases have been commercial hits with artists such as Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan selling over 500,000 copies of their catalogue music on the format. Sting’s new studio album, Sacred Love, went gold within the UK and sold out all 650,000 copies manufactured within weeks of its European launch.

The hardware market is similarly focused on SA-CD with 116 models available from 29 manufacturers including major AV brand names and audiophile makers. This market-leading position is set to harden this year on the news that leading brands, Philips, Sony, Marantz, Sharp and Yamaha are being joined by Toshiba and Samsung.

Perhaps the clearest indication of the strength of SA-CD comes from the disc replicators. “We talk to the factories and they tell us that collectively there are around 25 million SA-CD discs in circulation worldwide,” explained Jos Bruins, Director of Marketing, new formats at Philips. “Our goal is 100 million by the end of this year, so any suggestion that SA-CD sales are lagging is ludicrous.” Currently, there are SA-CD disc replication plants in Europe (Sonopress and Sony DADC), North America (Crest National and Sony DADC) and Asia (Viva Magnetics and Sony).

“It is important at this time that the industry and the market clearly understand the relative positions of the new formats,” reinforced Walstra. “SA-CD is definitely the leading format – in terms of commercial exploitation and technical capabilities. We have superior sound. We have secure copy protection against industrial piracy. And through the hybrid disc we have complete compatibility with CD, which by the way, we also introduced to the market less people forget. We are succeeding in this important project, designed to safeguard the music industry and the market for recorded music. Any suggestion otherwise is simply untrue.”

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