It can only be good news to see EMI Japan releasing a very large number of SA-CDs. These discs are however, very expensive and become more so once you add shipping and any import duties to them. These releases appear to be stereo only and will cost a premium outside of Japan I suspect.
For me SA-CD is very much about improved sound quality and I am prepared to pay a bit more for that, but not necessarily as much as these discs are selling for. Also, I personally am a supporter of SA-CD because it offers the surround multichannel sound option, which to me enhances the music so much more. I find it hard to listen to stereo discs now as the lack depth and I hear less than I do of the music when it is in multichannel.
I think it is interesting that EMI, UMG and Warner perceive a market exists in Japan, but not the rest of the world. I can't help however to feel this is wrong. There are some of us who would like more hybrid SA-CD discs to be available. That said the independent labels such as Alia Vox, Bis, Harmonia Mundi and others do a great job releasing SA-CDs, so it is from these labels I predominantly buy my music, not the major labels.
I hope the Japan SA-CD releases are being watched closely by UMG and EMI elsewhere in the world and it might get them to look again at their global strategy, especially if UMGs proposed takeover of EMI succeeds. We are told we live in an age of choice and consumer led demand. So I have no problem with the move to downloads, I am no fan of these at all, they do not give me what i want, a tangible product and good quality sound. So please offer me and other like me choice and let me have good quality surround recordings on SA-CD. I recently played some SA-CDs to friends who had never heard of the format, they were amazed at the difference and loved it and will now be looking at it themselves. It is not necessarily a case that consumers don't want SA-CD I think, it is rather a case many have not heard of it because it was not marketed well and has not become the norm through hybrid releases.
Sony Music's whole approach towards SA-CD is I feel rather odd, given that their music label has failed to properly support the format. Again, the consequence of this is that I don't buy Sony Music CDs, instead I buy from those labels offering me what I want, so I guess you could argue that I do have some choice, but it would just be nice if the majors participated more in being seen to offer choice rather than the giving the perception of chasing larger profits all the time.
EMI has a large number of quadraphonic recordings in its vaults, a legacy of their single inventory SQ Quad / Stereo policy in the 1970's. It would be so good if UMG has the vision to produce an audiophile label, not one just based in Japan, selling at a premium price, but a global release of hybrid SA-CDs making available once again these amazing recordings at an affordable price in high quality surround sound. One particular recording which would be most apt for release next year here in the UK is Elgar's Coronation Ode, released in !977 for the Queen's Silver Jubilee would be an appropriate re-release for the Golden Jubilee. That aside, there are many other EMI recordings of this period worthy of SA-CD release in multichannel hybrid format. Let us hope that EMI will have the vision and creativety to think outside the box. I fear that UMG does not appear to be thinking boldly in this way, so there may not be much hope, but it would be good to think that UMG might just revisit its policy and rather than just say that it is commited to high qualiy sound to demonstrate this commitment thrugh the release of high quality SA-CDs. As I say, some of us live in hope...