Will a format war between SACD and DVD-Audio be good or bad for audiophiles? Why or why not?

The benefits of more choice or an audiophile disaster? It seems that Sony/Philips' SACD and DVD-Audio are on a collision course in their race for the title of the next high-end audio format. If they decide to duke it out, we'll get to compare the two formats ourselves, but is this good or bad for the audiophile?

Will a format war between SACD and DVD-Audio be good or bad for audiophiles? Why or why not?
Good---let them fight it out!
23% (25 votes)
Bad---settle before going to market!
60% (66 votes)
It won't matter
9% (10 votes)
I don't care
8% (9 votes)
Total votes: 110

Sonic Bob's picture

It just won't matter. Why? Because I'll have to buy a new piece of equipment no matter what they decide. So the longer the corporate propeller-heads squabble, the longer I'll have to save up money for the correct machine I won't be able to live without.

John Crossett's picture

The consumer should be the one to decide which format (if any) they want. However, I say this only if the consumer is given access to ALL the facts about both products.

HAL hgunther@euronet.nl's picture

As a diehard vinyl-lover the only thing I care about is the comeback of the turntable and the availability of "software", preferably new material but reissues are welcome too !

Ron Resnick's picture

I do not know the precise reason why the winning format will emerge victorious, but whatever the reason proves to be, I fear it will not be solely or primarily because of superior sound quality.

Sam Tellig's picture

I hope the two new formats kill each other and CD survives. Perfect sound forever!

Tom Selnau's picture

Bad in the sense it will cost sales as people, myself included,who appreciate good sound, put off the jump to DVD until the matter is settled. Believing this to be in the near future (one year or less), I do not want to buy a high end DVD player that is obsolete or needs a decoder box attached. I will take a wait and see attitude for the time being; but then I remember Betamax.

Martin Bruczkowski's picture

In the view of the electronics giants, audiophiles are not a market---the boombox buyers are. That's why they don't care if we sit and wait instead of rushing to buy the new technology . . .

Anonymous's picture

The format that gets to the mass market and wins their approval will become the accepted format for the next decade, regardless of sound quality. Its the good old boys buyin stuff at Best Buy that drive most of the bucks the recording companies are looking for.

Carlos_E's picture

I think having the two competing formats will be bad. People will be less likely to buy either format because they don't want to be "obsolete" if the other format succeeds. The only way to avoid this will be to buy a DVD-Audio player that plays both formats, which will cost more than a player that plays only one.

Karl Richichi U.T.  Film Dept.'s picture

Very Good. I think it would be great to try out both formats ourselves. As far as cost, quality is always affordable.

Patrick L's picture

I don't think that it will have any good or bad effect for us. Unfortunately, the choice of a standard rarely takes into account the real technical interest face to some economical parameters like "how easy it will be to integrate that new feature to the current manufacturing process ?" However, I think it will be funny to see the fight between Sony/Philips that currently owns a big part of the popular music market (by popular I mean listened by most) on behalf of the labels SonyMusic and Warner, so the software and the vast majority of the other manufacturers.

Troy McHenry's picture

In the end, we could end up having just a few CDs by a few manufacturers making discs in the new format(s) because there is no "unified" track or direction forward. With their investments in current studio and manufacturing equipment, Record companies are hard businesses to sell new media to. They are not going to opt for another format unless they see the "entire" marketplace going toward that too. Look at HDCD.

Eric G.'s picture

Capitalism is based on the concept that the marketplace decides all such issues. It must be difficult for equipment suppliers to guess which will succeed. The smart ones will cover both options.

Buck Maxey's picture

Consumers are extremely nervous about buying something that's obsolete before they get it home . . . as PCs seem to be. Many will simply look at this as planned obsolescence on the part of electronic manufacturers.

Alejandro Gonzalez's picture

It is not fair for the end user to have buy diderent formats and various equipments.

Tony Esporma's picture

The history of the audio marketplace is littered with the ghosts of failed "new technologies": V/H stereo LP, QS, SQ, CD-4, ElCassette, Beta HiFi, DTS (?) . . . I kind of hope that they settle before going to market, but given how much money is at stake, I figure large companies will rather fight than give in. Perhaps the final answer will be similar to HDTV, where several formats are incorporated and are supported in the software. This will, of course, work only if the hardware will pass the signal through. In the case of SACD and DVD, I think that the former has currently the best shot, given the installed base of CD players. Shall I add 24/96 DVD-Audio to my list?

Graeme Nattress's picture

It'll teach one (or both) a lesson: Produce what we want to buy, not what your marketing departments think we may want to buy.

Ren's picture

They should work on one format. Given the Beta fiasco, Sony should know better. Most people I know think CDs sound fine; they don't care about another format. A format battle is the last thing we need.

WARD MOORE's picture


Jim Stevens, Prestant Records's picture

Bad for studios, as equipment costs could be high if we guess wrong. Bad for consumers, as initial equipment costs will be higher due to covering multiple formats. Could prolong the wait for required improvements indefinitely!

Donald Westbridge's picture

Eventually, CD manufacturers will install chips that will decode all formats. Right now in Japan, there are DAC converters for sale that decode multiple formats. Unfortunately, they are sold only in Japan and in limited UK distribution. I think one is by JVC-Victor; it decodes their proprietary XRCD format and a dozen other formats. You'd have to shop in Japan's Akihabara "Electric Town" to find it.

Scot Forier's picture

Both camps of the next high-end audio format will not be able to join forces. There will be a format war. It's unfortunate that the whole mess is going to be fought over royalties.

J.P.  Frenza, New York City's picture

Bad---very very bad. I desperately need a CD player. My budget for a new CD player is $2-3k. But instead of shopping, I sit on the sidelines waiting to see what direction the future will take. In this scenario, not one party wins---not me (I am still waiting for the new player to take full advantage of my beloved Thiels), not the high-end audio company (my money sits this stupid scuffle out), not the folks who work at the local audio shop (I pass by the window but don't enter), not Stereophile, not the economy. No one. Hmm . . . how exactly does the free-market approach enhance the quality of choice again?

Bob Casner's picture

I REFUSE to buy ANY DVD-based audio hardware or software until the smoke clears, and that most definitely includes MoFi, Chesky, and Classic---I can't afford to invest in what increasingly appear destined to become "white elephants." And Classic, will you PLEASE get back to mastering NEW titles on "regular" gold CDs?

erich's picture

SACD (one bit D/A) is good for mabye deaf people or people who cannot make multi-bit converters that sound good.

Michael Mai's picture

It would be bad because audiophiles' resources will be split pretty thin between two formats. Besides, the winner may not be technically superior, but just have more marketing muscle to flex.

Don Bennecke's picture

So far, I see organizations quite remote from the public ear evaluating the format. How do I know what the best solution is? It is too early to make a position for all to live with, before burying a format that may be the superior in sound, convenience, and public acceptance. Keep both alive before the greed of hardware manufacturers determines your listening fate.

Mannie Smith's picture

Settle it so we can get the show on the road!

Al Marcy's picture

Good, IF I like one or both, contrariwise...

anton's picture

analog forever!