||By Mike Snider, USA TODAY
High-resolution music gets a much-needed jolt Tuesday with the release of 22 remastered Rolling Stones albums. Originally released on vinyl from 1964 to 1970 and on CD in 1986, they include classic songs such as (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, Paint It Black and You Can't Always Get What You Want.
Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones released remastered
albums this week on Super Audio CDs.
By J.P. Moczulski, AP
The discs in the Rolling Stones Remastered series ($18.98 for single discs) promise added clarity on standard CD players. But the improvements are more noticeable when played on Super Audio CD (SACD) players, because these "hybrid" discs also have a higher-resolution version of the album.
SACD, launched three years ago by Sony and Philips, delivers better-than-CD sound through higher-density sampling and complete digital processing. The result, says Jody Klein, who supervised the release of the albums for Abkco Records, "is that we've gained back the warmth of analog sound."
SACD and a competing format, DVD Audio, hope to gain market momentum. They have been a hard sell so far because of pricey equipment and a sparse catalog, not to mention the dominance of CDs. But player prices are dropping ($200 and up), and the number of titles is growing (600 for SACD, 200 for DVD Audio).
Record labels are eyeing the formats because they cannot be copied as easily as CDs. "We hope it's a successor," says Kenny Nemes of EMI, which is releasing DVD Audio discs now and plans SACD discs next year. "They seem great, especially in protecting against piracy."
How the new formats match up:
More bits than CDs. Both SACD and DVD Audio seek to improve upon CD by increasing the digital-sampling rate — the number of times a second that the original music is turned into computer bits — and frequency range.
Backward compatibility. Many, but not all, SACD discs have two music layers, as the Stones' discs do: one for CD players, the other for SACD players. "SACD is a real direct replacement for the CD. You put it in and press play and you listen," says Bob Ludwig, who remastered the Stones recordings.
DVD Audio discs ($14-$25) build upon the popularity of DVD players and home-theater speaker systems. In addition to a high-res multichannel version of the recording, there's a lower-resolution version that plays on standard DVD players — but not on CD players. They also have videos, lyrics and photos.
Surround sound. Most SACD discs, like the Stones' albums, are two-channel. But a growing number of SACDs offer surround sound.
DVD Audio discs deliver full-range sound to five speakers and a subwoofer and may have a high-resolution two-channel version to boot.
High-res music takes listening to another level, says Ludwig, who also has done a multichannel SACD of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's Live in New York City and DVD Audio albums such as Steely Dan's Two Against Nature.
But so far, he says, "it's very confusing for the consumer."