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Sony Blu-spec CD Format Detailed, Hits Stores 290

Posted by timothy
from the this-year's-jumprope dept.
CNETNate writes "More details about Sony's new Blu-spec CD format — standard CDs authored using Blu-ray's blue diode technology — are beginning to emerge, with commercial releases beginning to hit Amazon. Blu-spec CDs are compatible with existing CD players but have been mastered with higher levels of accuracy by using the same technology used to author Blu-ray discs, with the intention of eliminating reading errors that occur as a result of being authored with traditional red laser technology. Sony has also launched an official (Japanese) site for Blu-spec CDs."
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Sony Blu-spec CD Format Detailed, Hits Stores

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  • I'm unimpressed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sj0 (472011) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:55PM (#27003445) Homepage Journal

    This reminds me of the gold plated cables "to ensure the digital signal has the highest fidelity".

    This looks like snake oil marketed to the "I'm a pretend audiophile who loves buying more expensive things with questionable benefits" crowd.

    • by LUH 3418 (1429407) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `breilavehcemixam'> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:57PM (#27003489)
      I feel the same way. I never ever had problems with defective audio CDs, or none that my non-audiophile ears could detect anyways! Furthermore, aren't audio CD sales constantly dropping? Do we really need more odd physical media formats?
      • Re:I'm unimpressed. (Score:5, Informative)

        by SCPRedMage (838040) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:43PM (#27004239)
        This isn't actually a new "physical media format". It's just a CD made with a blue laser instead of a red laser. They're still readable by any old CD player; the only difference is that they supposedly have a lower error rate.
        • Re:I'm unimpressed. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:21PM (#27004781)

          CDs aren't created directly with lasers. The pit-land pattern is etched into a glass master, from which the stamps are produced which are used to press the polycarbonate discs that end up in our CD-players. The step which involves a laser is the activation of the photochemical surface of the glas master. Where the photochemical surface is washed away, the etching process creates the pits. I think it's a stretch to think that switching to a blue laser can provide a noticeable benefit in that process.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sortius_nod (1080919)

            It can if Sony says it can... or at least the good old Sony fanboys will say.

            I'm leaning heavily toward the snake oil side of this one. I've never had a pressed CD have ANY issues, the "benefit" I see is that these CDs will cost more, which is a benefit to Sony - more royalties.

            Yet another example of Sony not really innovating, but sucking the lifeblood out of technology markets. If there's a way to kill CDs, causing the price to rise with no benefit will do it.

      • I never thought that I had problems with my CDs (some of which are 25 years old) until I ripped them all using "grip" with cdparanoia turned on. A small number of the CDs ripped at very slow speeds (sometimes less than 1X), which I assume was the result of cdparanoia doing multiple read passes to try to compensate for errors.

        However, since standard CD players have logic to hide small errors, I never heard any problems with them anyway. Maybe audiophiles disagree. IMO, probably the main benefit from this tec

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chyeld (713439)

        After reading the article, it seems that this in theory would reduce the amount of 'innate' errors in the master. This would imply that, with fewer errors, your CD could get slightly more scratched before it starts to skip/distort/bug out noticeably.

        However, as many others have said, this is solving a problem no one seems to have. You aren't getting better quality audio, you are just reducing the already low error rate of the master.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by smoker2 (750216)
          So being able to get rid of outdated red laser mastering equipment isn't a benefit ? They need the blue for blu-ray, so if they can do CD and BD mastering using the same mastering equipment that's better isn't it ? Or is the striving for ever greater accuracy and control a waste of effort ?
    • by Guysmiley777 (880063) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:28PM (#27003995)
      And make sure you follow your $500 Ethernet cable's directional markings to allow for optimal signal transfer [denon.com]!
      • by vux984 (928602)

        And make sure you follow your $500 Ethernet cable's directional markings to allow for optimal signal transfer!

        Bah, its not even snagless.

        • No, but it does cut down vibration - I've lost count of the number of times my internet has skipped because of my clumsy leaden-footed flatmates barging past...
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's an extra $300 for the snagless version, the clip cover is platinum, the density of the platinum gives it improved snaglessness, the clip cover is also imbued with magical snag fighting powers via Denon's proprietary shamanizing processes which will banish snags to the land of wind and ghosts!

      • by DrLang21 (900992)
        Off topic, but I would love to know if these guys actually believe the crap they write about their products or if they laugh their asses off in marketing meetings while they come up with it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      This reminds me of the gold plated cables "to ensure the digital signal has the highest fidelity".

      Outside pure mathematics, nothing is digital. It is all modulated in and out of analog in the PHY [wikipedia.org]. Because it's analog, it has a signal-to-noise ratio, and signals can't be correctly demodulated unless the SNR is high enough.

      In typical environments, it's easy to ensure enough SNR in the cable to pass correct SPDIF audio. But cables with excess capacitance and RF interference can still distort the clocking pulses inherent in a modulated signal. For cheap DACs that use cheap methods to recover the DAC cloc [wikipedia.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647)

        But cables with excess capacitance and RF interference can still distort the clocking pulses inherent in a modulated signal.

        You make the mistake of equating something that's technically correct but completely irrelevant. The fact is that ANY well made coaxial cable has sufficiently low capacitance and good enough shielding to send SPDIF 6 feet from your CD player to your receiver's DAC.

        Of course, you could say "screw it" to the whole coaxial cable thing and use TOSLINK. That has the added benefit of elimina

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Actually audiophiles are the ones buying expensive CD players thanks to (assumed) better reading of the CDs and less use of error correction or failed error correction / reads. So .. Makes sense that way but then I personally would assume I actually get the correct bits out in the end no matter what CD player I use so I wouldn't expect to get any improvements either.

      Atleast with DVD-audio or SACD you get higher resolution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gilmoure (18428)

      Gold plated cables are outright fraud.

      Real dynamic improvement comes from Brilliant Pebbles [machinadynamica.com].

  • Is it DRM free? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:55PM (#27003451) Homepage Journal

    Just wondering if anyone knows?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vectronic (1221470)

      Maybe I'm an idiot, but how could you apply DRM to it if it works with standard CD players?

      DRM can only be applied (in this case) via software, naturally the data stored on it could be encrypted, but that has nothing to do with the technology here, you'd have to find a way to apply DRM to lightwaves or something, therefore DRM would be up to the content distributor, just like everything else.

      If they had developed a new hardware (ie: new player + new cd format) then DRM could be embedded into the hardware. T

      • Re:Is it DRM free? (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:24PM (#27003939) Journal
        There are no foolproof methods; but there are a variety of techniques that have been tried, with more pain to the legitimate than to the pirates, as usual.

        There are two basic schools of design for Audio CD DRM: The one is to include, in a location that won't interfere with the audio tracks, a data track, and put some sort of nastiness in it, set to autoplay on insertion. This is . [wikipedia.org]

        The other main method is to exploit differences between the Red Book standard(audio CDs) and the Yellow Book standard(CDROM drives) and introduce deliberate errors into your CD that will be negligible under redbook but problematic under yellow book. Because this is a hack, there are no really good ways to do it(and, it causes real issues with some newer stereos that use CDROM drives); but that is how it is tried.
        • Fair enough, so theoretically (I haven't RTFA), they could opt for your second option, and conform better to Red Book, and thus make their claim of better reading ability on standard CD drives, while (possibly) increasing the errors on CD-Roms, or probably more likely vice-versa, as then more people would be playing them on CD-Roms where DRM implementations are easier (see option 1)...

  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mweather (1089505) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:56PM (#27003477)

    h the intention of eliminating reading errors that occur as a result of being authored with traditional red laser technology.

    I thought commercial CDs were pressed, not burnt.

  • by escay (923320)
    does this also mean increased storage on the CD?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jandrese (485)
      Nope, it's just a better made CD. Regular CDs aren't exactly problematic though, so it'll probably be one of those things where it gets used on expensive music collections to make people think they're buying premium stuff.
      • by DrLang21 (900992)
        Nope. It's just a better made master for CD pressing. This might be of significant interest to the record pressing industry if there is often significant fallout when trying to etch a master. Us consumers will see no difference though.
  • Heh (Score:5, Informative)

    by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3&phroggy,com> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:58PM (#27003509) Homepage

    If you RTFA, you'll notice the bottom half of it is titled:

    Why this is all marketing nonsense

    Funny how the summary left out that part.

  • Impressions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @04:59PM (#27003535) Homepage Journal

    I would have been more impressed if they'd somehow managed to keep it compatible while 'hiding' a second layer such that while you'd get the traditional old two channel audio with a traditional player, a blue laser player would be able to access the second layer, enabling high fidelity, high bitrate 6 or even 8 channel sound.

    As is, it sounds like they're eliminating 'errors' by doing the equivalent of printing old 200 dpi images with a modern 1200 dpi printer. Sure, it's a bit cleaner, but there's no additional information.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by McNihil (612243)

      "but there's no additional information"

      It is more about less additional and extraneous information than anything else.

      But right... this if anything in history is a money grab.

      Now if they have stiffer plastic and if the plastic has better longevity then it may be more "wise" to buy new stuff on it.

      Buying old CD on CD again doesn't make any sense even if they are "remastered."

      And yes I am all for better sound quality... the industry is trying its best to double dip and triple dip the consumer.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        It is more about less additional and extraneous information than anything else.

        I'd say that it's more about eliminating noise than any information. Noise isn't normally considered information, and information isn't normally considered extraneous. At least not when it's easily ignored.

        These CDs will have the exact same capabilities of the old style.

        And yes I am all for better sound quality... the industry is trying its best to double dip and triple dip the consumer.

        Oh yes. Sony's a big one at this, I think that if they're lucky about 1 in 10 of their formats actually catch on. Of course, the biggest killer of their media formats is their insistance on riddling them with DRM - increasing the cost of

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CronoCloud (590650)

      SACD can do that with one type of the SACD discs. So if you put the disc in a SACD reading PS3 you see two disc icons pop up in the XMB.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        Well, one of the first two generations of PS3, at least.

        But yes, that was pretty much what I was proposing.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:01PM (#27003561)

    I much prefer my half speed master cd's.

    (its easy, really. burn at 24x or even 8x 'for great justice').

    sheesh.....

  • Mahoney! (Score:4, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:01PM (#27003573)
    I think the more important thing that every is missing here is that Steve Guttenberg seems to have found employment again!
  • by mikeabbott420 (744514) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:02PM (#27003579) Journal
    my bits will be much higher fidelity than other peoples! my zeros will be round and full and my ones will be straight and clean!
    • Geez only $200 cables? You are a cheap ass. Nothing beats the fidelity of my multi-thousand dollar wood speaker knobs!
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Except bits are not 1's and zeros. there are a pit with a length that gets interpreted as 1 and zero's.
      So now that make a more accurate CD.
      Lass master copy failure do to too much distortion.

      Not that I would expect anyone here to understand that the world is bigger then what they do or know.

  • Ok (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:17PM (#27003849)

    So, since a CD is digital, with error correction codes, the ONLY thing this solves is that it might make it easier for a cheap, portable CD player to read the disk. When you rip that CD to a lossless audio file, current technology will do that just fine.

    Uh...hello? What exactly is the point, then? Last I heard, portable CD players have been made completely and utterly obsolete due to the advent of portable MP3 players, which are now cheaper, smaller, and can hold a whole CD binder worth of music in a device smaller than a cellphone.

    • Re:Ok (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:59PM (#27004493)

      > Uh...hello? What exactly is the point, then? Last I heard, portable CD players have been made completely and utterly obsolete
      > due to the advent of portable MP3 players, which are now cheaper, smaller, and can hold a whole CD binder worth of music in a
      > device smaller than a cellphone.

      Not... quite...

      The main reason why more and more people think mp3 audio sounds as good as CD audio is because the audio fidelity of CDs has gone down the toilet over the past decade. It's as if the recording engineers of the world have completely forgotten EVERYTHING they learned during the previous 25 years. Modern CDs have CLIPPING, for god's sake. That's inexcusable. Combine sloppy mastering with media of diminishing quality and players whose quality basically ceased to exist 5 years ago, and you have the reason why most current CDs sound like crap. Modern CD players never skip, because they have big ram buffers so they can recover from skips before the listener realizes it happened at all, but pretty much every other spec meaningful to CD players has gone downhill since the mid-90s.

      Find a DDD Telarc disc from the early 90s that was intended to show off the capabilities of CD players back then -- wide dynamic range, basically 0% cross-channel interference, the works. Now rip it, and try to make the best-quality mp3/ogg encoding possible. Now do a blind comparison of the two. I guarantee you'll be able to tell the difference. You might have a hard time telling which is which if you hear it in isolation, but side by side you'll have no problem figuring out which one is compressed.

      Put another way, the quality of compressed audio hasn't increased... the quality of CD audio has fallen compared to the quality it had during its golden era. 15 years ago, record companies spent lots of money trying to master perfect CDs, because they knew every disc they released was going to be scrutinized for the tiniest audio imperfection. Now, they don't even bother trying... and wonder why their customers don't bother *buying*.

      If every new Britney Spears & Madonna disc had the production standards and "reach out and touch the music" clarity that the best Telarc discs had 20 years ago, people would STILL be buying them at stores, even if they intended to rip them to mp3 for convenience. Why? The added value of a flawless, premium-quality master from which to rip at will. We'd probably even start seeing "mp3" players that can play raw PCM, and people taking advantage of SDHC media's capacity to "rip them raw". Even a 2 gigabyte microSD card can hold ~3 CDs worth of uncompressed data.

    • cd has error *detection* but not so much correction.

      proof: audio cd (redbook) vs 'data cd' (iso format). iso format has real checksums. redbook audio does not. that's why 'ripping' is not accurate and can't be, by definition.

      dvd, otoh, has always been a filesystem with checksums and since you never really 'stream' dvd, there's time to re-read on error (up to a read-ahead limit).

      they screwed up the original cd format. its not robust and its not reliable. but there is nothing you can do now other than pl

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Sigh.
      This is all about manufacturing the CD from the master.
      Less distortion, tighter manufacturing error control, few manufacturing failures due to pit distortion.

      Why can't the writers and the technical people on slashdot realize there is more about the world then the end users see.

      Just to clarify:
      this is NOT about YOUR reader. Probably not even about your world, so to speak)

  • The only problem I've ever had with audible "errors" on CD are when the publishers have introduced them as part of some sort of brain dead DRM attempt!

  • Make them harder. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DamnStupidElf (649844) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Thursday February 26, 2009 @05:33PM (#27004097)

    Stick a better anti-scratch coating on the data side of CDs
    (and DVDs), and they'll be much better than just cutting the pits and lands more accurately.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pz (113803)

      Stick a better anti-scratch coating on the data side of CDs
      (and DVDs), and they'll be much better than just cutting the pits and lands more accurately.

      You realize that the data side of the CD is really the top, right? That the actual data layer is right THERE at the top, with almost nothing to protect it, right?

      And that the DVD spec put the optical data layer in the MIDDLE of the disc, with polycarbonate layers on either side to protect it, right?

      And that you can polish scratches in the polycarbonate just fine with various compounds, so that even a pretty serious scratch can be eliminated? Even massive all-over scratching from sand can be fixed with suf

  • I'd think that, at this late date, we could sell CD-size USB sticks for less than 50 cents. Perhaps we can't beat the price of mass CD manufacture, but we can sure beat the price of writable ones, and come close enough to the mass CD price that it becomes a small fraction of the product cost.
  • with the intention of eliminating reading errors that occur as a result of being authored with traditional red laser technology

    That would be ironic considering that abuse of published CD and DVD standards to create reading errors (i.e. "bad" sectors) on purpose is common practice in the content industry as a misguided form of copy protection; Disney being amongst the worst offenders.

  • by Daas (620469) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:10PM (#27004655)

    Instead of that bullcr**, they could just stop reducing the dynamic range of our music and give us back the sound our CDs were supposed to produce...

    See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war [wikipedia.org]

  • DVD-Audio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:19PM (#27004763) Journal
    I want DVD-Audio standard in all contemporary "CD players" hitting the markets, but this isn't happening. It should have been happening years ago. MP3-containing CDs happened, but DVD-audio never caught on... would have been out of bounds for MP3 to encode anyway (5 channels), and we'd all be using Ogg Vorbis.
  • by kobotronic (240246) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:29PM (#27004861)

    This pointless technology serves no more audio-fidelity improving purpose than the hundreds of ridiculous inert gimmicks gullible "audiophiles" have been buying for years, such as Stop Light Pen [elusivedisc.com] or the fabulous $485 wooden knob [archive.org]. Disappointing to see cash-hemorrhaging Sony in desperation stoop to the level of these other scamsters.

    SACD and DVD-audio both offer actual audio fidelity improvement, but were always commercial non-starters given the expensive and mostly obscure hardware needed for playback. Imagine if the DVD consortium back in the day had included the DVD-audio specification in the basic DVD player profile so that all the millions of DVD players out there today could play them. We would have had ubiquitous high-quality audio playback hardware today, and a greater market would have accordingly existed for high quality disc-based audio formats. It might have kept the recording industry scam going for longer.

  • How this works... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Burning1 (204959) on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:32PM (#27004897) Homepage

    This technology works by increasing the resolution of the bits coded onto the CD, so that the zeros are rounder, and the ones have the little tip at the top, and a flat line along the bottom.

    But seriously... How about we improve CDs by setting a standard that eliminates harsh audio compression, and sets limits on the audio leveling..?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 26, 2009 @06:36PM (#27004961)

    Of course blue lasers are better to author CD's. Want proof of the superiority of blue?

    GI Joe v. Cobra: Good guys have blue lasers
    Jedi v. Sith: Good guys have blue light sabers and blue lasers, the bad guys have red
    Smurfs v. Gargmel: Good guys are blue, bad guy has a reddish cat.

    I rest my case.

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