Pure Audio Blu-ray?

The Blu-ray HD-Video format makes a very good high definition audio platform as well. And MSM-Studios, a production company and studio in Berlin, and the award-winning Norwegian label 2L have developed what they call Pure Audio Blu-ray. Here’s how they describe it on their FB page:

Developed by Munich’s msm-studios in co-operation with Lindberg Lyd, the Pure Audio Blu-ray combines the Blu-ray format’s vast storage capacity and bandwidth necessary for high-resolution sound (up to 192 kHz/24Bit) in surround and stereo with the easy and straightforward handling of a CD.

Pure Audio Blu-ray can be operated in two ways: by on-screen menu navigation or by remote control without a TV screen. Remote control operation is as easy as with a CD: besides the standard transport controls the numeric keys directly access the corresponding track number and the desired audio stream can be selected by the coloured keys on the remote control. For example, press the red button for 5.1 DTS HD Master or yellow for 2.0 LPCM. Pure Audio Blu-ray plays back on every Blu-ray player.

The Blu-ray format has established itself as a high definition video consumer format and it does advance the quality of the listening experience, but I’m personally not convinced that it’s going to succeed as a stand-alone replacement for CD, DVD-Audio and SA-CDs. I think we’re past physical formats and living in an age of downloads and even HD streams.

The “innovation” that MSM-Studios has added to the their productions is the ability to access the high resolution audio tracks on Pure Audio BD discs without the need for a monitor to navigate. The have programmed the standardized color buttons on the Blu-ray remote control to play one of the available audio streams as described above. I like that idea. In fact, I have adopted the same strategy on many of my own Blu-ray productions.

However, with the proliferation of HD-Audio downloading and soon HD streaming, I don’t think that “purely audio” optical discs of any type with any feature set will be successful in the marketplace. Blu-ray is an HD-Video format with great audio capabilities.

I have produced and released about 30 Blu-ray discs with multiple audio streams lots of bonus features. They are not Pure Audio BDs. I include full HD-Video of the program or session because we record the entire ensemble at the same time. So why not bring cameras into the space and complete the “private performance at home” concept that we’ve designed. You can always choose to turn off the video while listening to the project and enjoy the glorious surround HD music.

But judging by the amount of email that I get from customers saying that they enjoy watching the musicians play on their flat panels or projection screen is a welcome addition to the experience.

And for those that prefer the audio only experience, there’s a button on my remote that says “pure audio”. Guess what that does?


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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