Whats equally reassuring is the positive trends that lie behind the rapid growth in the SA-CD album catalogue. A significant factor in the formats appeal is the complete CD compatibility of hybrid SA-CDs, meaning that consumers can play them anywhere - on CD decks as well as SA-CD players. Over half the releases are multi-channel and this figure is rising fast since virtually all new album releases are in this multi-channel format. The exceptions are parts of the large Sony stereo catalogue, which was released in the early days of Super-Audio CD before the multi-channel option was available, and also those albums recorded in the 1960s and 70s that were released as stereo only and so no multi-track master tapes are available.
Despite competition from rival formats, evidence from the record companies illustrates the continuing strong attraction of SA-CD to consumers in Europe. One of the worlds leading music producers on SA-CD, Universal Music, reports strong shipments of its latest crop of top name artists. Released on 30 August, Bjφrks new album, Medulla, sold over 100,000 copies on SA-CD in its first month of release in Europe. At the same time, Diana Kralls sensational The Girl in the Other Room has posted 70,000 sales on SA-CD outside North America to date. And last, but by no means least, the new Nick Drake compilation album, A Treasury, has shipped 25,000 units in Europe since its launch on 20 September.
Rome was not built in a day and so it is with surround sound; but progress to date has been strong, steady and very encouraging, comments Olivier Robert-Murphy, VP International DVD & Surround Formats at Universal Music International. At a time when consumer tastes are changing in favour of higher resolution surround sound, we Universal Music believe in better-than-CD stereo sound and in its potential.