Demise of the CD, again?

Super Audio CD (SACD), could possible replace the CD. The SACD provides cinema-style surround sound and requires a whole new player.

Most of the buyers so far are owners of home theatre systems that can recreate the higher-quality sound that SACD produces

The reason the music business is putting in all this money is that the introduction of the format is part of a wider plan that would - if they get their way - see the 21-year-old CD format eventually abandoned in favour of SACD. The reason: pirates supposedly cannot crack or duplicate SACD discs.

But privately, record executives admit that they have only two years to get buyers to adopt the new format. The big labels will abandon it if, after that period, the new technology fails to push up their sales.

The alternative is that SACD will join the graveyard of music formats, following such things as 78rpm vinyl, 8-track cassette, and the short-lived Dataplay format, which arrived, hyped by a Britney Spears release, and then disappeared two years ago. Some wonder whether it will ever be possible to stop selling CDs.

The other problem is a rival "better" format, being pushed by Warner Music, called "DVD-Audio". It too produces surround-sound music with higher quality, and is also being pushed as the solution to piracy. And its existence is confusing buyers - who sometimes think that the discs contain films.

Read on...