In recent years, consumers have been all about video quality''digital, high definition, giant screens, high capacity disks. Audio quality, not so much. In fact, the move to compressed audio stuffed into iPods and other mp3 players and hard disks that act like home jukeboxes has continued the downward trend in audio quality that started with the move from vinyl record to CD.
At least one artist has decided to do something about it. Rocker Neil Young is releasing his audio archives not on itunes, not as a multi-CD boxed set targeted at Christmas shoppers, but on Blu-Ray discs. Actually, a series of Blu-Ray discs, that will start shipping this fall. The discs will include archival video and stills as well as the audio
files. He made this announcement this week at the Sun Microsystems JavaOne Conference; the Blu-Ray discs will use Java for interactivity.
Of course, the vast majority of today''s Blu-Ray players in consumers hands are part of Sony Playstations; it''s not clear just how many Playstation owners are Neil Young fans.
Could Blu-Ray, besides knocking out its high-def competitor HD-DVD, and perhaps, eventually, replacing the DVD, kill the CD business as well? After all, DVD-Audio and Super-Audio CD, both high fidelity formats, didn''t make much of a difference. However, if you figure that regular listeners will all move to digital downloads, leaving only the audiophiles purchasing round pieces of plastic, perhaps Blu-Ray will finally mean they can stop pining for vinyl. At least they won''t have to have a separate box in their home theaters for audio.
And Neil Young and his fans will have shown the way.