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Sony Unveils Blu-ray Format Audio CDs

Gordon Kelly


Sony Unveils Blu-ray Laser Written Audio CDs

If you regularly read our comments sections you'll tend to find plenty of audiophiles among us, a group who finds nothing less than lossless quality sound acceptable (yes, we're proud of you all) meaning this could - quite literally - be music to your ears...

Taking its Blu-ray disc technology to the next logical step, Sony has announced a new standard it is dubbing 'Blu-spec' which uses the great accuracy of the blue lasers to write music to the humble CD. The result: audio quality should be vastly increased. Naturally enough, Sony hasn't gone into any quantitive detail about how much better this already-most-subjective of matters but the kicker is Blu-spec CDs will be compatible with existing players around the world.

Quite what black magic it has conjured to make blue laser discs readable by red laser it understandably doesn't delve into but 1. Thank your lucky stars and 2. Expect the odd older HiFi (you know the ones which are picky about recorded blank media) to probably spit their dummies out about these too.

That said, the rest of us (by which I mean Japan...) will get its first taste of Blu-spec CDs when the first volley of releases arrive just in time for - yep - Christmas. 60 titles will initially be released with a classical and jazz theme to them meaning the likes of Beethoven and Miles Davis are getting the treatment again and, if successful, Sony is expected to look for cross label support with rivals EMI, Universal and Warner Music.

Will Blu-spec be enough to claw back market and margin from the online download space? Well, given most people don't seem to give two hoots about sound quality (see white iPhone earphones and kill, kill, kill) probably not. But for the angels who read this site, I wish you a Very Merry Grey Import Christmas...


Press Release via Google (Word Soup) Translation

Martin Daler

November 6, 2008, 5:13 am

any idea where the "vast" improvement comes from? Given that it is compatible with existing players one presumes that the sampling rate and depth remains as before?


November 6, 2008, 7:24 am

Sony is using Deep Magic. That or the Dark Side...

Seriously, Sony is basically saying NOTHING about how this works.


November 6, 2008, 7:40 am

@Hugo "Seriously, Sony is basically saying NOTHING about how this works" - to be fair, what else is new ;)


November 6, 2008, 10:48 am

Isn't the point there will be less bit errors in the manufacture of the disks?


November 6, 2008, 2:30 pm

I call marketing BS. There is no chance in the world that these will sound any better than a properly pressed CD. Sony MIGHT artificially improve them by remastering / upping production values on Blu Spec discs, but that would be no more than marketing spin - they could equally do the same for normal CDs.


November 6, 2008, 3:09 pm

@John Mclean. Production methods can improve sound quality. This is related to players requiring less servo adjustment and retries giving a cleaner read from the disc.

Hans Gruber

November 6, 2008, 3:29 pm

"Taking its Blu-ray disc technology to the next logical step, Sony has announced a new standard it is dubbing 'Blu-spec' which uses the great accuracy of the blue lasers to write music to the humble CD."

"Quite what black magic it has conjured to make blue laser discs readable by red laser it understandably doesn't delve into."

(Hoping my browser doesn't go funny on me yet again so I lose what I've typed already) until I read a wiki the inherent contradiction evident in the above info had me confused. I've since learned that the Blu-spec CDs will be ordinary CDs mastered using Blu laser recording, which should create more precise pits for storing the readable data, and hence less distortion caused in the optical read-out process. Higher quality audio is then meant to follow on from the fact there will be less read errors generated though I'm presently very much agreeing with John McLean's comments that it's all marketing hype jumping on the 'Blu' high def bandwagon.

Anyway, a link from the Wiki article I poached all the above info from (thus hopefully making myself look cleverer than I actually am again), here:

http://www.ps3sacd.com/index.h... (purty graphics for illustrating the new high spec audio proposal)


November 6, 2008, 4:05 pm

This is almost funny: it's digital people! That means in order to get better quality, you need larger data size (end of story!). As the cd format based on the wiki remains the same (hence same storage capacity) the only way to get better quality (ie. more data on the same media) is a stronger compression, but this would be unreadable with older players. Hence it's only an improved printing process that puts the same data onto the same old CD. I am sure my CD player will love me to death for having an easier time to read them, but that's the only upside other than media coverage.


November 6, 2008, 4:39 pm

@Lamboy - I understand the theory, which is that a CD with a more precisely aligned track is more likely to be read accurately, so the error rate should, in theory, be lower. However, a decent CD player reading a clean, unscratched CD which has been properly pressed using a standard mass production unit should read practically without any errors whatsoever, and I fail to see how that can be improved upon. Blu Spec discs will obviously still be prone to scratching, and the sampling rate and bit depth are necessarily no greater than for any other CDs (to maintain compatibility with existing players). I am happy to be proven wrong, but until someone demonstrates, repeatably, an ability to distinguish a Blu Spec disc from a "normal" CD produced from an identical source, using the same high-end hi-fi kit for each in a blind ABX test, I refuse to believe that Blu Spec will offer any benefit.

Technology changes, and so sho

November 6, 2008, 6:39 pm

Ah audiophiles. They'll do anything to justify their outrageous outlay on components. Even NASA doesn't use technologies as expensive and wrapped up in marketing speak, and they are interested in measuring and controlling things FAR more subtle than audio.

As has been alluded in the posts, the master may be cut using a blue laser, but the mass production still uses stamping, which is where the majority of errors creep in and why all CD players have to have error correction on them. The same applies to DVD and Blu-Ray.

It won't make a blind bit of difference, yet we can expect to read reviews about how the discs bring a haunting new depth of realism to the Fast Food Rockers' Fast Food Song.

It's still 16 bit @ 44.1kHz. The human range is 20 bits (you absolutely cannot hear anything more than that) and anything more than 44.1kHz is a bit of a waste of time really (information theory will tell you that). I do agree that headphones and loudspeakers are worth a moderate amount of investment since they are the transducers that actually make a difference.

Still, if you've got the money to burn then good luck to you.


November 6, 2008, 10:09 pm

Presumably it only works if you also use directional cables...


(although if you install the cable the wrong way round it might play backwards)

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