Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blu-Ray: Superb Sound

Music fans seeking high quality playback may be interested in the ongoing success of Blu-ray and its superb sound potential.

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After Blu-ray won the format war in Feb. 2008, the public didn’t exactly stampede into stores for this new development. However, things have changed, and prices have dropped dramatically. Amazon’s best-selling DVD/Blu-ray model, Sylvania's NB530SLX, now sells for $80.  Amazon reports that sales of Blu-ray players are outnumbering those of standard DVD units. Among the top 10 disc players sold, 8 are Blu-ray. In fact, at this point Blu-ray’s household penetration is higher than that of DVD for the same period after introduction.

So what does this mean for music enthusiasts? First, the Blu-ray standards allow for a bunch of audio formats, including high-res surround sound formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. For the technically inclined, this means lossless surround at 96 kHz/24 bit resolution. And of course all this comes with the outstanding video quality.

Yes, everybody expects we will all download media in the future. However, the ability to quickly download Blu-ray-quality content is probably 10 years off  (according to industry analyst Ross Rubin).

At a recent Blu-ray conference in LA, we learned that 65% of American households have at least one high definition television, and by now about 20 million homes have Blu-ray playback.

An exuberant Martin Scorsese attended the conference, praising the high quality of both the audio and video of Blu-ray, which is "as close as you’re going to get to replacing the theatrical experience at home."

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Referring to his 2008 Rolling Stones Shine a Light Blu-ray documentary, he was especially enthusiastic about the multichannel capabilities of Blu-ray because “it would transfer just that way to the home” with the surround sound in discrete and lossless DTS HD and Dolby TrueHD formats.

The Blu-ray Disc Association has also announced 3D specs for Blu-ray that allows backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray players.

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