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Wise Words - Audio Fidelity Moves to Selective Multichannel SACD Releases

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JonUrban

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Guys we have to face the facts that people are not buying discs anymore. Yes, WE do but we are a handful and you can not expect to stay in business when only a handful of people are purchasing your product.

If your market is dwindling then adding the additional cost of a product enhancement to the end unit is not financially feasible unless it results in more people buying the product. The bottom line for any business is to turn a profit and if that profit is not turned then there can be no future product.

So for people to come here and jump all over AF because a title is coming out without a surround track is really selfish. Sure, we all want the disc and looked forward to the 4.0 sound on a clean clear SACD but that is not happening in this case. I have been told that this is NOT the end of the multichannel line from AF, but seriously, the future of all specialty disc companies is not very bright. Once we old farts die off, people will talk about "In the old days they got music on a record or disc. Too funny"

If AF did not get us the titles we really wanted, and if they didn't get them perfect (Sly, etc), well, that's life. They tried. We praised them, and the biggest obstacle off all turned out to be timing. If they tried this in 2000 it probably would have met with a greater success. In 2015/2016 it's a jungle out there for big record companies let alone a small specialty label.

Let's keep the praise up for Marshall and AF and see what they get out there over the remainder of the year and keep the trashing and frustration to ourselves. We can't always get what we want.
 

bmoura

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Well said, Jon.

There are some inconvenient truths we need to face here on QQ. One is that there is a new format that all of the record companies are now embracing and are in the process of reissuing their entire catalogs in. No, it's not SACD, DVD Audio, LP or Blu Ray Audio. It's Music Downloads.

Listeners are interested in and are buying music downloads today. And that's what the record companies are interested in. Formats that sell well and appeal to the largest number of people who still buy music.

And believe it or not, there are companies like Channel Classics, Challenge Classics, Native DSD and Pentatone (primarily in the Acoustic, Classical and Jazz fields) recording and releasing albums - and even new albums - in Multichannel. Now while many here will say that's not my kind of music and I don't like music downloads and SACDs, Multichannel recording and releases on Multichannel SACD and Multichannel download are alive and well at some record companies. In fact, Native DSD - to take one example - adds DSD titles to their web store almost every week (Friday or Saturday). That includes Multichannel DSD titles most weeks - including many that have never been on SACD disc. Worth checking out if the music is interesting to you.

Let's talk about Audio Fidelity and SACDs. From the start, it's always been clear that Audio Fidelity was looking for new options as sales of Gold CDs faded.

They tried LPs and by the very limited number of LP releases from AF one can guess LP didn't really sell/work for them.

Audio Fidelity returned to Hybrid Stereo SACDs after leaving SACDs for several years and have been issuing Stereo SACDs ever since their re-entry. So that format has clearly worked for AF - appealing to listeners wanting the ultimate edition of classic albums in Stereo CD and Stereo SACD (Hybrid Stereo SACD discs brings both to the party).

Multichannel SACD was something that I have talked to Audio Fidelity - and pretty much everyone else in this market - since it first came out. (Ask the reissue labels and the audio makers about me and they will say, yeah I know he wants Multichannel...) After Gold CDs faded, Audio Fidelity expressed interest, checked into it and said Yes, let's give that a try. They embraced this idea far more ambitiously than I imagined with 4 and 5 channel Surround Sound releases including even unreleased Surround Sound mixes (Super Session, Child Is Father to the Man, Dylan Bootleg 6, Laura Nyro, Billy Cobham's Spectrum) bringing high quality Surround back through the talents of Gus Skinas, Steve Hoffman and Stephen Marsh. It has been a treat to see the project come to life and work with these talented music professionals.

But there has always been a high hurdle here.

To make a Multichannel SACD - or any Multichannel release - you need to now license, find and transfer/remaster not one set of album tracks (Stereo) but two (Stereo and Multichannel). In effect doubling the production costs. So now the hurdle of making back the guarantee payments on each license agreement becomes steeper and harder to reach. Multichannel reissues have to sell more copies to break even. Despite that challenge, companies like Audio Fidelity and Analogue Productions (Acoustic Sounds) continue to reissue albums on Multichannel SACDs. So we've always been on the thin edge here since Multichannel can be a plus sometimes but not other times from a sales perspective.

The good news going forward is that there already is another Multichannel SACD title from Audio Fidelity in the works that some on QQ will cheer I think. (And yes I know every title has fans and critics). Watch for that.

While Audio Fideity's team remain fans of the Multichannel SACD format and the AF Multichannel SACD titles, the not so good news is that Audio Fidelity does review their sales and costs and it is clear to them that it is time to move to a different release pattern where Stereo SACD will be the main release format with occasional Stereo + Multichannel SACD titles rather than what we have seen in the last 2 years. I'd compare it to what we see from Analogue Productions. Mostly Stereo SACDs with the occasional Multichannel SACD. So, some positive news but not what many on QQ want to hear.

One final thing, Jon is so on point about thanking AF and Analogue Productions for the Multichannel SACDs they do release. Marshall at AF, Chad at Analogue and others in the record business are people who respond to praise like all of us. A pat on the back and messages of thanks go a long way to encourage things to happen. And the opposite is also true.

So regardless of what happens in the future, I think it's time to ask Marshall and Chad to take a bow and thank them for rolling the dice, challenging the odds and taking the more difficult path to the market. That's how I see it - and I do thank them when a fine Multichannel SACD release arrives at my door. Like Jon, I'd suggest that QQ fans be sure to say thanks from time to time as well. :)
 

Clint Eastwood

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The most frustrating part of this situation for me is the small but vocal minority on here that either doesn't understand the situation or just ignore it. They come up with these "potential" titles that they want and then expect them to be released by AF and when that doesn't happen they pout and whine. It has been explained a million times on here the obstacles involved in getting a title released, but that doesn't stop the constant complaining. People seem to forget that AF is a business, not a "magic lamp" to make our musical dreams come true. There are numerous constraints placed on these releases that we are unaware of. IMO it's amazing that AF is even releasing some of these old titles in quad form. I suspect this won't last much longer but I appreciate AF for giving it a shot.
 

skherbeck

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The not so good news is that Audio Fidelity does review their sales and costs and it is clear to them that it is time to move to a different release pattern where Stereo SACD will be the main release format with occasional Stereo + Multichannel SACD titles rather than what we have seen in the last 2 years.
Wow... this news made me so sad I just bought 4 SACDs that I had never planned on getting (3 of which I may Never listen to!): Judy Collins, New York Voices, Mannheim Steamroller, and The Collection (this one will get some play time)... now my AF multichannel collection is 100% complete. The AF series of multichannel releases has made my discovery of surround music 18 months ago a really fun (and expensive!) experience! Thank you to all involved in producing and supporting these releases!!!
 

milt

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I never understand the enthusiast self-entitlement when it comes to various hi-res formats and releases.
Obviously, I don't know the ins 'n outs of licensing, mixing, mastering etc., but I do believe what the people involved in the industry tell us and why wouldn't I?
It's a total denial of the reality.
 

Bob Romano

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While I am really sad that things didn't turn out better sales wise for Marshall and AF, I am really thankful for everything he put out while trying. He could have easily said "Nope. Sticking with stereo only". I am also grateful that he was approachable enough to find out what we were looking for. Anytime I have emailed him with questions he got right back to me. He also asked for opinions which I was happy to give. We can only hope for the future and see what comes along. In any case, I think Marshall desreves a big pat on the back and an "atta boy" from me. And I have REALLY enjoyed all the ones that have come so far. Good luck in the future Marshall.
 

cupboy

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For stereo, they will have to compete with downloads, so maybe they can start offering DSD downloads. I would also recommend a reduction in list price for the SACDs. $24.99 tops, but $19.99 even better.
 

Clint Eastwood

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I will continue to support AF...surround or no surround..as long as I like the content....but just to show you how sales are struggling and how small the surround community is...just look at this situation...RT and I both posted a "fire sale" on acoustic sounds for AF surround discs and a few AF gold discs...$10 each for 2 of the surround SACD's with a promo code which brought the total to $8.50...the non surround Gold Discs were more money!...now we both posted this on Tuesday the 31st...you would think with all the visitors we had on this site that they would have sold those in a heartbeat...but they didn't...couldn't even sell them for $8.50...today you can buy them for $9.00...just out of curiosity I put 10 copies of Nightbirds and Super Session in my cart to see if they had that many left...NO PROBLEM...so I could buy 10 discs for $9 each and get free shipping and no tax...now if you are an "investor"...you could buy them now and sit on them for awhile and make a nice profit...just think if you would have forseen what the value of Avalon would be years later...

My point is that we(the surround community)overestimate our numbers all the time...there aren't that many of us compared to the stereo customers...when I think of what AF has done for us...it's amazing...and I would like to publicly acknowledge the efforts of Brian Moura the Multi-Channel Maven...and thank him for his many contributions...we take him for granted on the forum...to have such a great resource available to us is priceless..

And for those "investors" I mentioned...use promo code 10PERCENT and make your investment dreams come true HERE
 

fredblue

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Ah.. what a shame such a good thing has to come to an end :(
(I'm glad I read this before I swung by the death/suicide thread! Ha! -- Only joking! :D )..
well, AF, yours truly Captain Fredtastic takes his top hat off to you, for trying to bring Quad back with such gusto, BRAVO!
..I'm so thankful for (most ;) ) of what AF put out in surround so far.. those AF Surround discs of things like The Doors Quad, Best Of Bread Quad, the previously unreleased stuff like the Billy Cobham/Spectrum Quad, the Supersession and BST/Child Is Father 5.1's are/were the stuff of dreams to me to be getting a modern day release.. and AF somehow achieved it! So.. as Brett says "Thanks a Quadzillion, AF!" :upthumb

..meantime, there are many old Quads that still need to be resurrected, maybe just one last time.. but it does feel like the window of opportunity for these old Quads seeing the light of day again is closing all the more.. with the state of the music biz (and the passage of time meaning - not to dwell on the bleak/death thing - but Quaddies aren't immortal.. and kids now don't care, even my mates in their 30s and 40s think I'm a freak with a room full of speakers and other bits of electrical equipment, they're happy with sound bars and Sonos and all that shiiiiiit!)... So, AF couldn't make it work (and they've had arguably the most successful run at rejigging Quad of any label ever!) how can anyone else now come up with a viable business model to re-release these old Quads? how do you make the numbers stack up? are we talking a global customer base of thousands for these AF Surround discs.. or is it - GULP - only hundreds of people buying these for the surround? is there any way to cut overhead? is there any point anybody else trying if the surround music audience really is that small? is there any way in which WE at QQ could help (aside from buying the Surround releases as we so often do..)..? ah, I dunno.. well I'll just play that AF Collection SACD again and have another beer or 8 to drown me sorrows.. I'm still skipping that Friends Of Extinction track! ;) :smokin
 

rtbluray

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Good grief. The way some people are writing, they are making it sound like the Multichannel SACD series is going away for good.
IT'S NOT.
There will still be Multichannel SACD releases, just not as many.
Audio Fidelity are simply reemphasizing what their main focus has been all along, which are Stereo SACD releases.
I know Brian Moura has been saying that was still their main focus over and over again, but instead of following his advice (and the advice of others like myself) and requesting titles that would sell well on the benefits of both stereo & multichannel SACD (which is what AF were trying to do), many on here still continued to reach for the moon by requesting the most difficult titles, and now that AF have not been able to deliver many of them, so many members are (unreasonably) disappointed and frustrated just because they didn't receive what they wanted.
Audio Fidelity have had to work unbelievably hard against a triple threat in the forms of the owning labels, the artists, and the other reissue labels. All three of these forces have probably done a lot of damage in stopping AF from releasing certain titles that we have all wanted, but it is what it is. Two of the forces however (the owning labels and the artists) have done a lot of good by giving AF the opportunity to release some unbelievably amazing titles (like "Child is Father to the Man", "Best of the Doors", "Homecoming", "Loggins & Messina", "Best of Bread", "Winelight", and so many others) that I and many others will continue to cherish for a very long time!

Finally, I think it's important to reemphasize what Marshall has also said all along (through Jon) which is that you shouldn't just be buying any of these SACDs (especially now) just to support AF's endeavors. Buy them because you really want them, either because they offer phenomenal music, a phenomenal surround mix, or both. For example, I will probably never purchase titles like "Breezin", "Let It Snow", or the live Dylan album for a variety of reasons, but I have purchased the vast majority of the others, so I would say to AF, "Bloody job well done!" :)

(Oh, and one more thing, MOBILE FIDELITY can go suck a railroad spike!) ;)
 

DuncanS

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I've bought nearly all of the surround seies AF have released, and will continue to do so ( I occasionally buy stereo ones). I have heard some music and a few artists I have never heard before, and enjoyed them, and I've got to listen to them in surround. Brilliant :banana: . I have got far more surround releases than I'd expected in such a short period. So thanks Audio Fidelity and I'll look foward to the surround SACDs when they do get released. :upthumb
 

kap'n krunch

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and on top of everything, I've heard that the "modus operandi" for the majors is now even WORSE (yes, it could get worse...)

It usually was, "we'll pay the artist when the products sells"...now, it's "you'll have to pay up front for all the copies made", which make me appreciate EVEN MORE ALL the people who have and still continue to make physical media, AF, SW, etc.

Let's just hope that the Sun does not shoot us a Solar Flare in our direction-which is supposed to happen "regularly"..about every 150-200 years-last time it was in the 1860's, cause, besides being the end of the world (the nuclear reactors would all start spewing their deadly stuff, apart from all the planes falling like flies), for the ones left alive and able to REbuild our technology from zero, all the downloads would
disappear-along with all the info everywhere that is not "burned" somewhere..
The other overlooked fact is that hard drives DIE, so , I suggest you burn your download ASAP.

But let's talk about nicer things...

Physical media is definitely going away, but, IMO, it will NEVER go away completely---...
 

Scott M4

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I will keep happily buying all their future non-soft (jazz/pop) releases in Quad and happily ignore their future stereo releases. I've appreciated getting ahold of so many of their cool quad releases like Mahavishnu, Hancock, Cobham, Doors, Sly, EW&F, BS&T, Guess Who, Beck, Supersession... and look forward to whatever comes. Cheers to AF!
 

JonUrban

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Look guys, no one was more saddened about this than me. What happened was that I asked Marshall what happened with the BS&T GH and why a solid quad title was not being released that way. He responded by saying they were scaling back the surround titles as they just were not recovering the costs it took to make them. If he gives me permission, I will post his email to me.

At any rate, I would guess that Marshall himself was the biggest proponent of the M/C series, and he probably championed it and told his partners and investors that it would produce an increase in sales. He probably also got them to continue with the program past the point of them deciding to curtail the effort. I would also guess that BS&T GH was clearly chosen as a surround title. However, I would also speculate that the financial impact on the company was too great and the investors no longer wanted to spend the extra money to add the surround tracks because the discs they had already produced did not sell enough extra copies to justify the expense. If correct, we have Marshall to thank, not criticize, for the discs we did get.

Again, the above paragraph is pure speculation but you can see how it in fact could be the scenario that killed the "full speed ahead" aspect of the program.

Now I will admit that there were titles released in this program that were not titles I would have chosen. We all pretty much know which ones they are. For the great titles like "The Best of the Doors" there were, IMHO, clunkers like "Breezin'" and others. They are not bad titles, they are just not titles I would have gone to war with.

At any rate, there is a title on the horizon that many of you will be thrilled with. I am not at liberty to tell you but I will say that it's a rock title, not folk, jazz, or fusion.

So please, stop arguing and complaining. It's stupid. Think what you like but AF is a business and if it disappears you won't get anything. Marshall said all along to only buy what you like, so if you don't like stereo discs, don't buy them, but you don't have to stand on a soap box and declare that you won't buy any stereo titles from AF. Really, nobody cares.

I know I don't. :smokin

(PS - I didn't start this thread. Brian pulled it from the AF Suggested Titles thread and converted my post into a new thread, in case any of you wondered what happened)
 

0tto

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There are some inconvenient truths we need to face here on QQ. One is that there is a new format that all of the record companies are now embracing and are in the process of reissuing their entire catalogs in. No, it's not SACD, DVD Audio, LP or Blu Ray Audio. It's Music Downloads.
Brian, i'm curious if at AF they see inevitability of death of physical formats, do they willing to adapt and start to transform their business model by offering DL versions of their releases?
 

Snood

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At any rate, there is a title on the horizon that many of you will be thrilled with. I am not at liberty to tell you but I will say that it's a rock title, not folk, jazz, or fusion.
Please Please Please tell Snood it is the Banana Split's Greatest Hits Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase :51banana: :banana: :banana: :mad:@:

Oh and please no ban Snood Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase :slap:
 

bmoura

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Ah.. what a shame such a good thing has to come to an end :(
Let's be clear. Things haven't "come to an end".

As I noted earlier, there is another Multichannel SACD title already in the pipeline from Audio Fidelity.
With the occasional Multichannel SACD to follow down the line.

What has changed is the number and pace of Multichannel SACD releases from AF.
 

quicksrt

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I'm going to look at the bright side of this. AF spent a lot of time and efforts sending licensing requests to the labels asking for 4.0 tapes. All of the work, and then listening to the tapes that were available, and then passing on the ones that simply don't meet quality standards for SACD reissues. I'd bet that the best of these quad titles that were found, and are available to license, would stay on the short list of potential future AF multi-channel releases. The found masters for "Full Sail" tells me that the real special ones, the ones that are available, are not getting cancelled. Let's say 9 more titles were hoped for release by the end of the year. Those titles can be spread out over the next 18 months. If they are that good, and available, then I believe that they are going to still come out.

I am behind on my SACD purchases because ImportCD has always been out of stock on a few that I want. And I like to order at least 5 titles at a time. So my AF SACD spending is not going down this year, but is due to increase. I also planning on returning to a certain special batch of 4.0 SACD and double dip, grab an extra sealed copy of certain titles I am expecting to go OOP and become in demand in collector's circles. Mahavishnu, BS&T, Alice Cooper for starters. I don't think it would hurt at all to have extras on hand of those three since all are such small runs anyway.

What this means to me is that the titles AF does do are going to be more in-demand, A-List type things, and spread out. I can handle that especially if Warners and Sony Japan also feel like kicking out some cool things.

I do have to wonder why Sony Japan is reissuing BBA on SACD with quad if the market is not there anymore? Why is Warner releasing a big box of quad Chicago mixes?

I sense it really is not all over, but AF is just slowing down the surround titles a tad bit. :smokin
 
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