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Super Audio CDs Rolling Your Way 505

donutello writes "Slate is running an article about the Rolling Stones Remastered series discs having two layers: CD and SACD. The article contains some interesting information about how Sony is sneakily distributing SACD players without the buyers noticing it. This FAQ provides some information about SACDs. Don't expect to be able to play or reproduce these on your computer anytime soon. The SACD format contains a physical watermark on the disc. SACD players will only play discs with valid watermarks. Music watermarks had two opponents: The audiophiles who didn't like their music distorted and people who didn't like the watermarks preventing copying of the music. With the physical watermarks, they have found a way to appease the former while still stopping the latter thus causing a break in the ranks of the opposition."
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Super Audio CDs Rolling Your Way

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  • ... for a new better cd format

    sorry but cd's work jsut fine and i dont see this catching on as a replacement for old cd's
    • I've heard SACD's and personally they might not be a necessary replacement for everyone, but they do sound pretty good if you've got a higher end audio system. Once the players fall in price a bit...or maybe software comes out which will let me play back these things on my DVD-ROM (I wish.) I will start buying them. I've been looking forward to a higher end audio format for a while.
      • I'm screaming for something better. I listen to classical music and dammit, an orchestra is awesome in as many channels as possible, unlike, say, bass-heavy pop music.

        Sony has a low-end SACD 5-disc changer for something like $150, if you don't need an on-board decoder (i.e., you have a receiver that has 5.1 inputs).

        DVD-A has the supreme advantage of sounding better than CD even if you don't have a DVD-A player. Every DVD-A I've bought will play (if not the full 96kHz/192kHz tracks) in a regular DVD-ROM device.
    • Then you aren't listening very hard (but I guess that's the point).

      Many people now own 5.1 speaker systems for home theatre or computer games and would like more than stereo sound. Also, the quantization noise of the Redbook standard is audible on a good stereo and audiophiles have been pushing for higher-resolution digital recordings for years. A quick search of Stereophile [] gives about 100 articles hosted on that site alone. Whatever you think about audiophiles (and some of their beliefs are rather dubious to say the least), they represent a significant group of wealthy people who are willing to spend a lot of money on music.
  • Innovation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by batboy78 ( 255178 )
    Companies like Sony are spending all their time trying to make music "safe from piracy" that their hasn't been any useful upgrades to the CDR technology, other then 40X CD-Burners where is the next step? Blue-Laser? High-density CDR's?
    • DVD-R seems like a useful upgrade to CD-R. But copying those 27GB Blu-Ray discs might be a problem if The Man never makes any Blu-Ray-ROM or Blu-Ray-R drives.
      • But copying those 27GB Blu-Ray discs might be a problem if The Man never makes any Blu-Ray-ROM or Blu-Ray-R drives.

        Making Blu-Ray players might be a problem if nobody makes any Blu-Ray-ROM drives. Have you ever opened up a cheap DVD player? The cheap ones have IDE drives inside.

  • Mac Hall attacks! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Hilleh ( 561336 )
    The excellent comic strip, Mac Hall [], started a series of comics about this complete bullshit on monday. And I was just about to buy a new discman too..... What brands are "safe" to buy?
  • oh yeah? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BrainInAJar ( 584756 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:17PM (#4116084)
    If sacd becomes widespread, undoubtedly they'll make sacd-rom. When that happens, either they won't play, or they'll play right on to "pirates'" harddrives.

    If they make drivers that prevent that, then the /. crew will find a way around it, or cry bloody murder (or both), a la CSS. If they don't make sacdrom, *I'll* cry bloody murder, because the only optical reader I have is connected to my 2nd IDE channel (and besides, audio-out --> line-in fixes that issue no problem)
  • I have seen more articles on Sony and their attempts at denying the right of fair use then I care to.

    Celine be damned, the software that comes with the new Sony PCs, and their mp3 'solution' on the the minidisk player. ect, ect. Whatever. I haven't been buying Sony's overpriced crap-tronics, or their over-hyped and under-talented CDs and I won't be in the future.

    The giant will never fall unless *everyone* throws stones.

  • by Space Coyote ( 413320 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:19PM (#4116094) Homepage
    Is the watermark system going to affect how people produce music? Say for example, the SACD format becomes adopted as the standard audio format. If I own a small record label, how am I supposed to distribute my bands' music? Will I have to pay some arbitrary royalty fee to someone like Sony just so people can listen to music? Will such fees and required equipment make the barrier to entry for the recording business significantly higher? This kind of thing affects many more people than just your average slashdotter with an mp3 habbit.
    • by tato (and tato only) ( 525054 ) <ejohns.ix@netcom@com> on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:28PM (#4116139) Homepage
      If this law [] is passed, it will be a felony even to try to produce works in this format without a license, and there will be no obligation for a license to be made available to your small label at any price. Small labels and independent artists lose.

      Keep your unimpaired CD players, people.

      • Who cares. If I were to make my own contents, I'd put them in Ogg Vorbis. Or MP3. Or CD. Heck, I might even record it to casettes.

        Most people who have access to SACD players probably have what it needs to play almost all of the above formats anyways.

        If your contents are good, they won't care.
      • Get a grip (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nanojath ( 265940 )
        Listen: I am pro independent producers, anti-publishing industry, anti-DRM technology, and anti-copyright extension. But the kind of untruths this poster is spewing do not help the situation. This is the gist of the bill in question:

        "Anti-counterfeiting Amendments of 2002 - Amends the Federal criminal code to prohibit trafficking in an "illicit authentication feature." Defines that term to mean an authentication feature that: (1) without the authorization of the respective copyright owner, has been tampered with or altered so as to facilitate the reproduction or distribution of a phono-record, a copy of a computer program, a copy of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, or documentation or packaging, in violation of the rights of the copyright owner; (2) is genuine, but has been distributed, or is intended for distribution, without the authorization of the respective copyright owner; or (3) appears to be genuine but is not."

        That is a piece of crap legislation but it does NOT prevent anyone from independently producing information in any format they desire and and distributing it by any method they wish. Noone has even attempted to suggest that this could be prevented because it would be such a clear and undeniable violation of the First Amendment. Okay, Some will say yeah, but they'll use this to make non-protected formats illegal. Not according to the language of that bill: They still can't make Ogg, say, illegal: just tools designed to strip DRM-processed files to open formats, or distributing copyrighted files that have been stripped of their DRM information.

        And this is the other side of the coin. Just as any artist has the right to release their information any way they want (due to free speech and their copyrights on original works), the publishing giants have the right to release their garbage in any screwed up format they want - and the idea that the constitution in any way shape or form gives you some "fair use" right to do anything you want with that information may be the way it "should" be but it ain't the way it IS. If you read the fair use provisions in copyright law (I wonder how many /.ers have actually done this...) the literal provisions are very few and minor. Back-up copies or reversioning are not specifically protected, for instance - common mistruths spread on /. True, court precedents have established the right of individuals to carry out some of these activities under the banner of fair use. But this is a different issue. Like it or not, the DMCA spells out in unambiguous and specific terms (unlike copyright law's fair use provisions, at least as they address personal copying) that it is illegal to contravene DRM. That make's the bill in question doubly redundant, since it merely rehashes what is already illegal under DMCA, and aims in the end to prevent unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials, which was illegal in the first place.

        By all means, fight the power, yeah yeah yeah - watch how you vote, write a letter to your reps. You might even consider unclenching that "omigod if I don't vote for corporate-sponsored candidate X the horror of candidate Y, that ultraliberal tax-n-spend gun-hating tree-hugging/super-conservative religious right corporate-pandering gun-crazy wacko (choose one) in office" knee jerk reaction. You might even ask yourself how likely it is that their are only two possible approaches to solving the world's problems - and that the "side" you have picked of the two options you've been given is the one right, true, correct side, and all them other dips is just crazy stupid deluded fools with no sense. You might wonder what would happen if a whole lot of us started voting for people who don't get their political positions by constantly begging corporations and wealthy individuals for support.

        But remember their is another (not mutually exclusive) alternative, which is simply to not support the publishing industry's products and to instead seek out artists that do not artificially impair the versatility of their product or encumber it with information and costly extra production steps that have no other purpose than to remind you that they think of you as a thief first, a customer second.

        Think about it.

    • I think if SA-CD ever becomes a defacto standard, you'll see players that are backward compatible with CD-ROMs. There's no way that the majority of people are going to replace hjuge CD collections with SA-CDs.

      That being said, the quality of the standard CD format is more than enough for home recording, I would think.

    • Sony and Phillips already get fees for every CD sold. Does that stop you from making CDs of your garage band music? Of course not.
      Sure, right now the SACD recording process is probably pretty expensive, and there are only 2 machines in the world that can stamp out the hybrid SACD/CD discs, but it won't stay that way. Sony and Phillips must make it cheap to produce SACDs or else it will go the way of mini-disks.

      Frankly, I think this is the "right" way for Sony to try and improve security on the music. Its not a law. Its not a digital water mark or cactus crap that reduces the music fidelity. The format offers something extra, but doesn't allow you to copy it. I don't see any difference between this and DVD-pre-deCSS. All the people who buy DVDs but don't copy them will see this as pretty much the same kind of thing. Yes, we won't have the technological means to make a our fair use backup, but I can't backup my LP's either.

      If the artists get together and quit the record labels, cutting out the middle men, and start selling ogg vorbis tracks, well that would be really cool, but if the record companies are going to control music distribution, then they might as well give us better sound. I don't see technological measures to stop fair use as being more morally wrong than file sharing.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:20PM (#4116101) Homepage Journal
    Sony is just exercising their Freedom to Innovate(tm). Really! Just remember, whenever a technology company comes out with something new, even if it's actually subtracting value from technology you already have, and even if you don't really want it, it's innovation. And we all know that innovation is good.

    Stop fair use! Innovate!.

    • "Sony is just exercising their Freedom to Innovate(tm)."

      Now you all know why I've said that Sony is more evil than MS. Nobody ever believes me. Sony is downright RUTHLESS. MS is just arrogant. It's kinda like comparing Khan and Dr. Evil.
  • two-layer media (Score:3, Interesting)

    by porky_pig_jr ( 129948 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:21PM (#4116104)
    Someone has tested the quality of CD layer on two-layer media, and noticed that it was noticeably worse than a single layer CD. Much higher error rate.

    My undestanding of SACD is that it does not have a watermark but rather some encoding scheme which prevents it from being decoded. This is DVD-A which has a watermark.

    Both formats may be marginally better than CD (there are mix opinions on this matter). Seems like that the properly mastered CD sounds just fine. Rolling Stones recordings certainly need new remastering, incidently I got rid of my CD Rolling Stones because coudln't stand the sound ('brittle highs'), but once again, that was not a CD limitation per se, but very bad mastering. Even so, I'm not going to jump into the SACD bandwagon because both SACD and DVD-A are mostly a gimmick and its real purpose is to introduce a built-in copy protection you can't defeat.
    • Re:two-layer media (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FFFish ( 7567 )
      Well, and that's it in a nutshell, isn't it? Good masters are few and far between. And I'm not talking dom-/sub- sex relationships here!

      Most of the crap that's pumped out of the music industry is recorded like the shite it is, mixed and mastered with the care it truly deserves (ie. none), and pressed onto cheap-ass CDs with aluminum so thin that it has peephole throughout.

      SACD is just a complete waste of potential quality on crap like that. There's absolutely no reason to press Britnay Bimbo Spears to the SACD format. It will make no quality difference whatsoever. It's like feeding a fine filet mignon to pigs.

      The only reason to use SACD for such crap is the anti-piracy measures. Which, as we all know, will probably be enough to thwart your average teeniebopper. Won't do S.F.A. against the big-time, big-money pirates in Asia, LA, NY, etc.: they'll simply grab pure digital audio direct of the bus of some hacked-up player, and rip that to press.

      My only question is this: why are the media conglomerates so focused on the little fish, and ignoring the big fish? What are they gaining by inconvienencing Joe Noone?
  • by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:24PM (#4116119) Homepage
    this point has been brought up 20,000 times so i'll try not to rant too much... if you can play it, and listen to it, you can record it.

    sure you can't go digital to digital, but a couple good 24/96 digital to analog converters will make your copy sound nearly exact (if not completely exact)... if *1* person has the technology to copy the sound professionally (with no loss) into a digital medium, then everyone might as well have it, because the second that 1 person distributes the file, it is out there for everyone. (this includes they guy that works at the cd press shop and has access to the masters)




    • if you can play it, and listen to it, you can record it

      Ah yes... but if your SACD player doesn't play anything but original SACD's (no SACD-R), then you won't be able to play your copy as an SACD. Sure, you'll be able to burn it to CD... but you won't want that "harsh" CD sound any more, you will be hooked on SACD.

      I'm not saying it will work, but that's the plan.


    • by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) <dfenstrate@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @11:17PM (#4116564)
      ...copy protect cowboy neal, at least by natural methods.

      Cut his balls off.

      This would be analogous to a "digital" copy protection scheme, as if they cloned him, with the current state of biotech, they'd end up with an inferior, short-lived copy, AFTER 80 failed attempts to get anything to live in the first place.

      Of course, his +5 Geekfield probably also has a side effect of repelling all nubile females, so you probably don't have to worry anyway. Though Cmd Taco overcame this limitation...

      (No ill will truly meant towards Cowboy Neal, it was a joke that had to be made.)
    • As far as "pirating" the lossy mp3 format is king, and in the eyes of the IP industry, their greatest threat.

      The fact that most mp3s found are in 128kb, a bit rate that quite frankly is *not* CD quality and not as good as the orginal, already puts the lie to the "perfect copy" myth. (that is to say pirates can get perfect copies of the orginal)

      Not to drag the DMCA into this, but this is one of the most distressing things about its anti copyright circumvention clauses. Those who pirate rarely, if ever, copy a media perfectly. (Anyone who's seen an internet movie can atest to that.) They don't need to so long as their copy is "good enough".
      In practice the only thing the DMCA clause amounts to is a soap box for the RIAA and the MPAA to stand on.

  • by cheinonen ( 318646 ) <> on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:27PM (#4116134)
    First, if you're mad because you can't rip your SACD to an mp3 to listen to, then you're totally missing the point. Go buy a CD for that, it'll rip just fine, you can listen to it on your iPod, and everyone is happy. The point of buying something on SACD is to have far better sound quality, not to compress it down. SACD's secondary layer uses a DVD to hold the information, so that's 4.7 gigs of audio for the same amount of tracks.

    The idea of buying something to listen to on your iPod, or in your car, or on your computer that is SACD makes no sense. You're going to have hardware that is holding you back far more than the qualify of the medium. Unless you're listening on a computer with a really nice DAC and some Grado RS1 headphones, you can probably stick to CD audio or mp3's and notice not much difference. However, if you are listening on a real stereo with decent speakers, then listening to a well made SACD compared to a CD will blow you away.

    If I want to make a backup copy of my music, I can buy a copy on CD since I'm not going to be able to make a copy of a SACD myself anytime soon. To me, the compromise of incredibly high quality sound, that does beat the high end vinyl I've listened to, and having copy protection that doesn't interfere with that sound quality is a tradeoff I'm alright with. If you're mad over not being able to rip them for mp3's, then you should just buy the CD.

    • by Tyrall ( 191862 )
      I believe you're missing the point.

      If I want to make a backup copy of my music, I can buy a copy on CD since I'm not going to be able to make a copy of a SACD myself anytime soon.
      SACDs supposedly play in regular CD players as a regular CD, and are only 'fully featured' in SACD players.
      How long will it be I wonder before you can't buy a 'regular' CD?
      If the only way to purchase a digital copy (can you even buy cassettes any more?) of an artist's work is on SACD, and to most consumers it's the same difference, I would venture not long.

      • I think what's interesting is that, while you may not be able to copy the SACD data, if it plays as a regular CD in a regular CD player, then what the hell stops me from ripping it? As the others pointed out, ooh, so I can't rip the 4.7G data stream. I would be really surprised if I can't rip the regular CD audio.....

        The other thing is, the SACD player won't play non-watermarked CDs? So if I want to play music by my friend Dave [], I can't? To hell with that. Why would I buy such a restrictive player, when everything else on the market says "plays CDR & MP3!"

        • by HowIsMyDriving? ( 142335 ) <ben.parkhurst@gmail . c om> on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @10:47PM (#4116468)
          I have an SACD player and I can play all the burned CD copies that I want. The only thing that you can't do rip the 4.7g data stream. You CAN RIP A SACD HYBRID DISK TO MP3. It will play in any regular cd player. This includes cd drives.
        • When there is no CD Layer you will have to get the SACD info, but you can't just take the "analog" data from the RCA jack, you have to add in a matched inductor to turn the PWM into a real analog signal!

          Another good (technical) play by Sony.

          But, who are we really kidding? Someone will find a way to copy them before too long.

    • by Amoeba ( 55277 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:41PM (#4116209)
      You said:

      If I want to make a backup copy of my music, I can buy a copy on CD since I'm not going to be able to make a copy of a SACD myself anytime soon.

      Ya know, I though that same thing too.... initially. See, the problem is what happens when the day arrives that the only format available in drives and media is SACD? Can't make archival exact copies of your own media. Can't get a replacement for the disc if gets scratched. So much for Fair Use.

      And that's my problem with it. Call me kooky but I'm wary of companies that try the "Oooh.. look over there, SHINY!" distraction tactic while they take away my money/rights/stuff. Sony has lots of practice in that particular area.


    • by EllisDees ( 268037 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:51PM (#4116256)
      >However, if you are listening on a real stereo with decent speakers, then listening to a well made SACD compared to a CD will blow you away.

      Are you sure about that? Until I see a few double blind ABX tests comparing a SACD with a CD mastered from the same source, I'm going to have to consider it all marketing. "Ooh! This format can store *four times* more sound than the human ear can discern, where a CD can just produce a little more than anyone can possibly hear!"

      • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @11:59PM (#4116699)
        Audiophiles are always fun. They can sound a lot like proponents of alternative medicine. A few quotes from the Audiophile BS [] page:
        • "These cables deliver big time! The sound is surprsingly smooth and spacious, with particularly sweet upper octaves."
        • "Special wooden resonator disks made in Asia from a special tree, only found in one area. Placing these under EACH of your components, at strategic locations will remove 'unwanted resonances', and DRAMATIC improval tonal quality. The difference is astounding. These disks of wood sell for around $100 to $400 EACH (depending on size)."
        • "Harmonic textures ebbed and flowed with startling dynamic nuances and the sort of liquidity and purity one only comes to associate with world-class audio products."
        • "By using the $450 gold plated RCA stereo jumper cables for all line-level connections, and the newly available $1200 gold plated XYZ speaker wires, we were able to achieve a distinct improvement in highs and the deepest rich bass lows I have ever heard. A massive improvement over ordinary old copper."
        • Recently I got a pair of Acoustic Research 226PS bookshelf speakers and tried hooking them up with the lamp cord. The sound was dull and flat, better than the old speakers but it let the flaws in the wire [!] be heard.
        • "Rendition of harmonic colors was suave and smooth, with a believable sugar coating."
        • "Spatial detail was painted with a fine brush that readily resolved massed voices and the air around individual instruments."
        • "I just got through spray painting my dual BlackLight discs with flat colors. I did one side in classic forest green & the other in black. My impressions were very much like my brothers but with contradictory results. I liked black since it lowered the noise floor & increased channel separation even more which only further enhanced dynamics & detail simultaneously. He liked green because it's effect is very soothingly smooth. imagry transitions from channel to channel seemlessly, without huge sacrifices (eg: noise-floor raises about +10dB to around -110dB). It simply paints better between speakers."
        • "The Equilibre ($8,475) - nominally a 60-watt stereo amp."
        • "I found myself happily out of week-end work around the house lately and decided to replace the bubble wrap around my speaker cable; the air had leaked out of most of the pockets and it seemed like a good idea at the time... when it was done the effort proved worthwhile; bass was noticeably tighter and better delineated, more air around instruments in a clearer soundstage, voices somehow more expressive."

        I came up with one for Sony's SACD:
        "It felt like I had crawled into a warm and inviting sonic womb, where my fair use rights were gone."
    • I understand your point but my best sound system, the only one that you could actually hear the 4.7 gig difference, is on my computer. If I can't play it on my DVD-ROM, it's not worth me buying it.
    • And what if I want the SACD quality at home, but want to be able to make MP3's for my portable player? Oh yeah, just buy TWO copies of the music. Please explain to me how that's not just bending the consumer over?
      • by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @12:17AM (#4116750) Homepage
        Its not bending the consumer over because its DUAL LAYERED. i.e. an average everyday CD player sees it as an average everyday CD. Rip away!

        What you can't rip is the enhanced audio stream (on the DVD layer), but as someone else pointed out earlier you really wouldn't want to anyway if all you're doing is compressing down to mp3.
  • Not that bad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hex4def6 ( 538820 )
    Sure its another CD format, but the bait that they plan on using to lure conumers is the improvements that SACD has over the traditional format, such as 5.1 souround sound. That is pretty cool, admit it :).
  • Hey, the format sounds great. Could you guys wait a little before it will be widespread to publish the crack to decrypt the music in DVD players? I would really love CDs to get distributed with 5.1 surround. Its was about time to get good 2.8Mhz bitrate too :)
    Basicly, don't tell these guys too soon or you ruin it all...
  • No real problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:32PM (#4116167) Journal
    Give it a few years, some manufacturer in china will release a combo DVD/DIVX/WMA/OGG/SACD/CD player with digital out.

    Oops! Another brilliant copy protection scheme bypassed.
    • Not so... (Score:2, Insightful)

      China-brand electronics maker may release one with a digital out, but even a $2,500 receiver wouldn't know what to do with it.

      Let's take an Onkyo 989 receiver as example. It can decode PCM, DTS, and Dolby Digital, none of which an SACD uses. The DSD format that it is recorded in was specifically designed to skirt the tinny sound of PCM audio. Of course, there was the added benefit of "thwarting" "pirates". SACDs and DVD-Audio disc players output their music audio in analog, predecoded. That way, there's no issue for the receiver to understand it. Really the only way to handle it would be to acquire a pre-decoder as people did in the early days of the 5.1 era, and patch it in over a DB-25 connection.

      So we'd run into a bit of a chicken and egg issue. If I don't have a receiver that can decode a DSD signal, I would have no reason to buy china-brand SACD player. If there's no market for people looking for such a player, then china-brand isn't going to squander its measley per-unit profits on a processor to output such a signal. You'd also be dealing with a market ("audiophiles") which would take one look at China-brand and pass on by to the $1,000 SACD player. The non-audiophile public might buy it, but they'd buy them for the same reason they buy china-brand nowadays: price, not the unique features.

      I don't doubt it might happen, but it would have to be a long ways off. The audio world has already established that it's willing to pay large amount of money for patch cables to sustain analog signals. There would need to be a more serious desire in the audiophile world to make them dump existing equipment in order to accommodate the digital output of the new format.
  • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:35PM (#4116177)

    how it works here []

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:35PM (#4116179) Journal
    The physical watermarking on these SACDs actually looks more like a method to prevent mass piracy of SACDs, which apparently sound a lot better, have more features (5.1 channel sound?) higher resolution, etc.

    SACD players can play your normal CDs just fine, there is no forced upgrade inherent in the technology, and there is backwards compatibility using the hybrid disks with a CD stereo audio layer.

    Real issues are the lack of a standard digital output on current SACD players - there is a proprietary one which will presumably connect to DACs that also implement the proprietary interface and will not provide a raw digital bitstream.

    As I buy all my music (well, most of it) I am not too worried. And as everybody has said, you can record it once it is a sound wave at the very worst.

    If you want to make your own music, record it on a CD - you aren't in a worse position than before...

    Now the real issue is what will happen once SACD has taken over... will new players suddenly stop supporting CDs, forcing music upgrades? ...

    • SACD players can play your normal CDs just fine, there is no forced upgrade inherent in the technology,

      For now. It's not being forced upon us, it's being snuck in quietly.

      there is backwards compatibility using the hybrid disks with a CD stereo audio layer.

      For now. You need a carrot on the end of that stick.

      If you want to make your own music, record it on a CD - you aren't in a worse position than before..

      For now. God forbid the content-cartels have *any* competition. Or do you think it's just a coincidence that along with our Fair Use rights the big media companies are pushing to restrict even our ability to produce content without them getting a slice of the action?

      Now the real issue is what will happen once SACD has taken over... will new players suddenly stop supporting CDs, forcing music upgrades? ...

      You really think this won't happen? I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this is what they will push for.

      Call me a cynic but I can't be the only one that sees where this all can lead.

    • "Now the real issue is what will happen once SACD has taken over... "

      I'm not sure how it could. If Napster has taught us anything, its that people have needs that the RIAA is unwiling to provide. Since SACD works backwards from those needs (i.e. doesn't work in a computer) I think SACD will become, at best, a niche product. I can understand it's attraction to audiophiles, but we're not talking about the same kind of startling difference between VHS and DVD.

      They need to release something with MORE features, not less. If they were smart, they'd start selling MP3 versions of music on read-only Compact Flash cards. Better yet, sell MP3 encoded music on 2.5" CD-ROMS. They're smaller, and you can easily copy to PC so that you can listen on your laptop or at the office. The players for them would be much smaller as well, thus it FEELS like a more advanced technology.

      That's the type of thing that can revolutionize the market, not perceptually minor upgrades to an existing technology that's been around for 20 years.

      (I apologize if that didn't make sense, I'm in a bit of a hurry...)
  • Way back when... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:37PM (#4116188) Homepage Journal
    They don't seem to realize they're still going to be screwed. I guess none of these people were alive back before digital ripping became popular... Or maybe it's just they've all had lobotomies, because myself and many others were creating high quality analog rips back in "the day". All you need is a player, recording source and an RCA cable. Did it all the time with my Minidisk player. You don't even need skill since most players come equipped with line-out jacks. It won't be as fast, but once you get the copy onto the computer, it's over.

    As to the "Don't expect to be able to play or reproduce these on your computer anytime soon" bit, does anyone honestly believe that? And how fast was the last so called unbreakable copy protection cracked? Riiiigggt. It's DATA. 1's and 0's? Here's a clue:

    Q. Can I play SACDs in my CD player and/or DVD player?

    A. The CD-compatible layer of hybrid SACDs can be played in all CD players and some DVD players. Single and dual layer discs can be played in a SACD player only.

    Subtext: My CDROM can read it, they're screwed.

    Q. What's the difference between single layer, dual layer and hybrid SACDs?

    A. A single layer disc contains the DSD high resolution signal only. This may include both a stereo and multichannel signal. A dual layer disc contains two high resolution layers for nearly twice the length of music. Both single and dual layer SACDs can be played in a SACD player only. A hybrid disc contains a sandwich of a CD-compatible layer and a single high resolution layer for optimum playback in both CD and SACD players. Sometimes hybrid SACDs are incorrectly referred to as dual layer.

    Subtext: So either way, I'm getting a high quality signal, just the dual layer can store more stuff ala DVD and can be only read by SACD players. I assume all discs are slated to be dual layer, market penetration providing, but then all resteraunts are suppose to be Taco Bell too.

    Personally, and I'm sure bunch o' people agree with me-- I don't want another disk-like product. I want it digitally. No skipping, take it where I want, total flexibility. But then, the recording industry isn't about your flexibility. It's about their pockets and your cash in it.
    • The CD-compatible layer of hybrid SACDs can be played in all CD players and some DVD players. Single and dual layer discs can be played in a SACD player only.

      Subtext: My CDROM can read it, they're screwed.

      So you can rip the CD quality signal - you still can't get to the SACD signal (yet).
      Subtext: So either way, I'm getting a high quality signal, just the dual layer can store more stuff ala DVD and can be only read by SACD players. I assume all discs are slated to be dual layer, market penetration providing, but then all resteraunts are suppose to be Taco Bell too.
      No, you misunderstood. There is "dual layer" and "hybrid". Dual layer SACD is exactly the same as dual layer DVD - twice the capacity of single layer SACD and completely incompatible with existing CD drives. Hybrid is a type dual layer where one layer is CD compatible and the other is SACD. The layers will have different levels of quality. In fact they could have entirely different content.

      There is a good chance that hybrid discs will be quite rare. It will probably be cheaper to product separate CD and SACD versions and will give manufacturers a chance of selling the same album twice as people upgrade to SACD.

    • They are not "screwed". You can only rip the CD compatible layer, which is no better than a CD. If you buy an SACD in order to rip it, you are an idiot.
  • As long as there are ways to plug headphones in, there's no way to stop copying. For example, if you hook up your SACD player to your home theater reciever, you could potentially hook up your computer to the headphone jack of the reciever to record it using analog, or use a Toslink cable to record it using pseudo-digital (the SACD to reciever connection is most likely analog). It just takes longer, but it's still possible to copy a CD.
  • Favorite line (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xpccx ( 247431 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:41PM (#4116208)
    Emphasis is mine...
    Ordinary CDs can transmit frequencies as high as 22 kilohertz, or 22,000 vibrations per second (44,100 divided by two).
    Last I checked 44,100 divided by two was 22,050. If the author wasn't going to mention Nyquist, why bother mentioning that 44.1kHz > 2*20kHz?

    Some useful info I read on 44.1kHz here [].

    44.1kHz was chosen to fit a digital audio signal onto video tape, in the area used to store the picture. Video was the digital audio storage medium before we had CD, and the rate of 44.1 is a logical result of that and the need for a safe rate that could include up to 20kHz, which was considered to be the human threshold of hearing back then. The first rate that simply worked (and was interchangeable with video, since CD-mastering was done on video) was 44.1 The 44100 Hertz comes from the calculation using video-frames, where you can have 3 samples per field of 490/2 lines;
    3 x 245 x 60 Hz = 44100 Hz
    Oh yeah, down with Sony!
    • The 44100 Hertz comes from the calculation using video-frames, where you can have 3 samples per field of 490/2 lines;
      3 x 245 x 60 Hz = 44100 Hz

      I suppose the web-page cited means 3 samples (mono) per line of video.

      This all makes sense. The total number of bits per second for stereo is 44100 * 16bits * 2 = 1,411,200 bits per second. A simple PCM scheme could be used since the 1.4112 million on/off's per second fits in the 4.2MHz bandwidth of video.
    • which was considered to be the human threshold of hearing back then

      That was before large groups of humans were mutated and suddenly could hear higher frequencies.

      Sources claim that the mutations were caused by widespread to toxic levels of FAS (false authority syndrome) and tons of bullshit audio freaks who are so insecure about their penis size that they feel compelled to spend thousands on audio equipment to show off.
  • What about the fiber optic and coax digital outs on my receiver? Can't I just plug the SACD in to my receiver and plug the output in to my Audigy? Its not nearly as convenient has a CD-RIP, but it can still be done and distributed with P2P.
  • by pmineiro ( 556272 )
    the magic marker is increasingly becoming the h4x0rs tool of choice.

    clearly, they will be illegal soon.

    -- p
  • The Truth on SACD (Score:3, Informative)

    by zygan ( 100177 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:48PM (#4116246)
    The recording industry is run by morons, make no mistake of that, but SACD does have quite a few technical advantages.

    1) Essentially it's a brand new technology. It doesn't use PCM that everything now uses (including DVD-A). It uses a formula called DSD ( Direct Stream Digital ). It's designed to give a direct representation of the orginal analogue signal using a one bit protocol. It tries very hard to avoid the decimation artifacts that are part of the PCM process.
    2)1) It has a sampling rate far in excess of standard cd's.
    64* 44100 = 2.8224Mhz/s

    3) SACD isn't like DVD-A in that you HAVE to have a DVD-A player to play back the audio, It is a dual layer format that has standard red book audio on one layer and the SACD audio on another layer. (It also has multi-channel capability ). To play the SACD part though you do have to have a player capable of reading the DSD info stored on the disk.

    Yes, I know this sounds like a Sony Ad, it is the way that audio needs to go, as far as quality goes. CD's are really bad in comparison. If you can't hear the difference between SACD and red book, then your ears need checking.

    As far the copying issue goes...If it can be listened can be copied in some way.

  • I don't get it.

    The Napster users of the world are, for the most part, satisfied with the sound of .mp3's. Which is noticeably lower-fi than the original CD.

    Sony's assumption seems to be that restricting the copying of the SACD layer will accomplish something.

    But if people are satisfied with the sound of .mp3's, why would they care whether they are capturing the CD layer or the SACD layer?

  • by yeoua ( 86835 )
    So when can i expect to find such awesome quality mp3 rips of this stuff on kazaa?
  • Pretty clever.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by GRH ( 16141 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @09:50PM (#4116254)
    For those of you more interested in the tech than the politics, I'll try to explain how I believe SACD works.

    First off, this is not a new concept. Manufactuers in another industry (AC induction motor speed control) came across this same idea over 10 years ago. Except they call it PWM (pulse width modulation). Anyway, to control the speed of an AC motor the frequency of power applied needs to be varied from the baseline of 60Hz (50 Hz in many other areas of the world). These manufacturers were concerned with 2 things: 1) An accurate reproduction of a sine wave, 2) maximum efficiency (since inefficiency generates heat).

    The way PWM (and SACD) works is that the output to the motor (or speaker) can only be ON or OFF. THat's right, it's "true" digital. Each sample interval (2.8 MHz) only holds one piece of info, ON or OFF. So how does this produce good quality analog waveforms? Well, motors (and speakers) are largely inductors and electrically speaking, current cannot instantly change in an inductor. So, when an ON pulse is sent, the voltage immediately spikes, but the nominal current only rises a slight amount in the period that the pulse was in the on state for. If the next period interval has a 0 coded (OFF), then the nominal current will decrease a bit. Thus, by sending pulses in this fashion, it is possible to "steer" the current and output to the motor (or speaker).

    It may sound like a crude joke, but believe me, on an oscilloscope this method (PWM or SACD) is much superior to the older methods used. Yes, the motor guys used to do it the way current CDs are too, but they paid a huge efficiency penalty and the results were not as good to boot.

    If your an audiophile type of guy, look up Class D amplifiers, which use a similar technique to improve efficiency.

    The only drawback that occurred with motor control is that these Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) cause a characteristic motor whine that is the carrier (or sampling) frequency. This was quite obvious in the first drives which could only muster about 1kHz. However, improvements in the switching transistors have raised this to 12kHz and higher. So, the audible whine is disappearing. Don't worry about whine with SACD. It would occur at 2.8MHz, and I doubt if you could hear that!

    Overall, I'd say this has potential (if only from a technical point of view) because it does not need any D/A convertors or filters and only uses switching transistors in the output, which are much easier to keep matched.

    There's a bit more at _sacd.jsp [] but it's kind of fluffy.

    • by SIGBUS ( 8236 )
      Back in the early 1960's, the Bell System (remember them?) brought out the No. 101 Electronic Switching System, for use in large PBX/Centrex installations. It used pulse width modulation in its switching electronics.

      On the other hand, the No. 1 ESS, a full-sized central office switch introducted not long afterward, was a computer-controlled analog switch, using reed relays to do the actual switching.

  • Enough said.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @10:06PM (#4116319) Homepage
    The FAQ says that "the sound of SACD [tick] is often compared to that [tick] of vinyl."

    But just wait until next year, when they unleash UACD (Ultra Audio CD). The rich [tick] emotional [tick] impact of [tick] THIS format [tick] is often [tick] compared to [tick] a 78-RPM [tick] shellac pressing [tick] shellac pressing [tick] shellac pressing [tick] shellac pressing [tick] shellac pressing.

    However, even the 78 is subject to electronic processes which distort the sound.

    The best process of all would be one in which the actual soundwaves create the recording through direct action, without the intermediary of any transducers of electronics whatsoever.

    So I wouldn't buy UACD.

    No sir, I'm wait for the MACD (Mega Audio CD) that's waiting in the wings, with sound that's often compared to an acoustically recorded Edison Amberol cylinder.
  • this wont catch on for a very simple reason: its name. SACD. say it out loud. ess-ay-see-dee. its long and inconvinient. people like things thats are short and roll off there tongue. unless they change their name, they aren't going far.
  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @10:24PM (#4116385) Homepage Journal
    The copyright cartel are right about one thing, this is about property, it is about my right to know that property which I own won't spy on me, or prevent me from doing things that I have a legal and moral right to do, such as exercise fair use over copyrighted work.

    Computers, and electronic devices in general, are increasingly an important way in which we interact with the world around us. They are increasingly our eyes, ears, and voice in this digital age, and they should work for us, their owners, not an amoral corporation determined to milk our culture for profit.

    This is not to say that I disagree with people, or groups of people, working for profit, but I do disagree with the government tipping the balance in their favor at the expense of those who they are supposed to represent.

    You wouldn't tolerate a Cop sitting in your home guarding, not you, not even the rest of society, but some faceless corporation who doesn't care about anything but their own profit - so why tolerate a Cop in your computer or CD player?

  • Ew. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kitsune ( 8349 )
    DSD? Sounds an awful lot like how the good old FM radio works.

    Still it doesn't sound like it will stop you from ripping the CDs, as much as making it harder for you to extract the extra information... why would you want 5.1 on your earphones anyways? ;)

    Unfortunately, hearing that because Sony is on a promotional drive to sneakly setting up to take over the market worries me. It seems in some ways, one crazy copy protection scheme is to keep the technology changing so quickly that the tools and hardware remain out of reach of the consumer.

    But, if that's the case, doesn't that stifle creativity? Fledgling musicians, artists will be compelled to use the lastest media and may not be able to distribute their work and make any profit to continue. I remember considering buying some music of a great little indie group a couple of years ago and didn't bother since they only had cassettes and those were 20$.
  • Hardly. In their Spring 2002 in the audio section, the have the first page (like their other sections) discussing the excatly technical details of specs so the consumer can make an informed decision. Super Audio CD is described there. All they standalone CD players that also do it are tagged as such. It's not like Ninjas come into your house at night and rip the little black tape off the SACD logo a week after you buy it.
  • I was wondering what this [] might be refering to. I guess this may be it.
  • How big can the difference in quality be? If a normal person with no musical ability, say, like myself, listens to both a CD and the new format could I tell a difference? Is it as pronounced as moving from tape to CD?
  • bah, humbug (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flip-flop ( 178593 )
    This whole SACD stuff is just a sneaky way of trying to replace the CD with something the RIAA and their minions have more control over. The audio CD's acoustic format is sufficient even for the finest ear. I challenge anyone to be able to distinguish CD from SACD in a blind listening test. See something like this thread [] on Hydrogen Audio [] if you don't believe me...
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Wednesday August 21, 2002 @11:36PM (#4116622) Journal
    Anyone here who owns an IBM desktop or laptop wonder why they can not get linux to boot on it?

    Well according to the July edition of CPU magazine, [](sorry its not online) IBM secretly implemented palidome drm chips implementating Microsoft/intel's trustworthy computing called tcpa [] in almost every desktop sold! Andhere are the []crippled laptops, and here are [] the crippled servers. Infact the system is so locked down with each component trusting one another that if you replace the floppy drive for example the system will not run! Remember the motherboard and the eide card both trust the floppy drive with the right encyption sequence in it. Readit and weep.

    Oh and yes I submited this to Rob and he did not post it here. Grrr. I encourage everyone reading this to submit it as a story because this is x100 times as worse as what sony is doing.
    • by blp ( 4207 ) <> on Thursday August 22, 2002 @01:54AM (#4117006) Homepage
      I have a brand new IBM ThinkPad T30 [] with a TCPA chip, and I have been running Debian GNU/Linux [] on it from day one. In fact, the Microsoft OS it came with has never been booted. If I could just get ATI to give me specs on the video card, so that I could make suspend/resume work better, I'd be entirely satisfied with it.

      Now, this is not to say that TCPA does not have some unsettling implications. For now, TCPA-enabled machines can boot "trusted" or "untrusted" OSes. What worries me is what might happens years in the future, when TCPA or its moral equivalent is in just about every machine and "trusted" OSes are the exception, not the rule, on mainstream users' PCs (should that ever come to pass). At that point, I'll start getting worried about the possibility that manufacturers might turn off the ability to boot an untrusted OS.

  • by altgrr ( 593057 ) on Thursday August 22, 2002 @03:59AM (#4117259)
    OK, so it's all very well that you can now use SACD with more accurate signal reproduction, or even DVD-A (isn't that a term used in porn movies? So I've heard) if you want better quality.

    Whose ears are actually good enough to listen to 24-bit audio and tell the difference between that and 16-bit anyway? I have often heard it said that analogue transmission of audio is far worse than digital. I don't entirely agree with that, but supposing it's true - surely the cables between SACD player and amplifier, amplifier and speakers are going to withdraw a lot of the benefits of the more accurate signal?

    Yes, we can only hear about 20-bit accuracy. The point of the additional accuracy is, therefore, questionable. The difference in quality it will make is miniscule. The LSB on 16-bit audio represents a variation of 0.0015% in the output signal. The LSB on 24-bit audio represents a variation of 0.000006% of the output signal. Can you hear that final bit? Does it make all the difference? Er, no.

    Those who say that the MP3 format is too lossy for them might be interested to know that audiophiles can't actually hear the difference between 256kbps MP3 and the original CD recording []. Those who think they need still more quality should perhaps check out the MAD plugin [] which has the ability to decode mp3s to 24-bit, recreating bits that weren't even there in order to improve quality.

    As regards introducing watermarks as a kind of copy protection - well, that's just reducing the quality of the audio, which defeats the point of what you were trying to achieve in the first place.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright