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<Press Release>
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April 6, 1999

Sony Launches Super Audio CD

Tokyo, Japan - Sony Corporation today announced plans to begin selling Super Audio CD players and related products on the Japanese market on May 21, 1999. The company is also gearing up for the launch of Super Audio CD products in overseas markets scheduled for this autumn.

The Super Audio CD is a next generation audio carrier that reproduces not only the musician's artistic expression, but also recreates every detail of the atmosphere, nuance, and space surrounding the original music source, making it far and away the World's paramount high-fidelity audio format. Sony has drawn on its long history in the audio industry and vast expertise in audio technologies to create a line of hi-fi audio hardware- including players, amplifiers, pre-amplifiers, and speaker systems, that bring out the vast potential of the Super Audio CD.

Sony's first products are targeted mainly at audiophiles who are seeking the highest level of sound quality. Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. will initially release thirteen Super Audio CD software titles in coordination with the hardware launch, with plans to make additional software available at a rate of ten titles per month.

Since launching Japan's first tape recorder in 1950, Sony has asserted strong leadership in the audio industry with the introduction of products such as the Walkman portable cassette player that contributed greatly to the popularity of records, cassette tapes, and other analog media. Moreover, Sony ushered in the digital audio era by pioneering new digital audio formats like the Compact Disc and the MiniDisc. In particular, the high sound quality and convenient optical disc media provided by the Compact Disc, which was introduced in 1982, were so well received by consumers that to date more than 600,000,000 CD players have been sold worldwide.

Meanwhile, Sony began searching for the fundamental elements of technology needed to achieve even higher sound quality as early as 1991, when a project to study a new, next generation audio carrier was begun. This resulted in the development of Direct Stream Digital (DSD), a technology that is capable of directly recording source music in a digital format that very closely reproduces the shape of the original waveforms, and Sony succeeded in developing DSD-based recording technology for use in professional studios by 1996. The introduction of the Super Audio CD, the first consumer audio format to use DSD, follows on the heels of the introduction of a high-density disc that is capable of holding the large volumes of data generated by DSD recordings.

Direct Stream Digital Technology

The Super Audio CD employs Direct Stream Digital (DSD) as the fundamental recording technology that allows for the reproduction of sounds that are infinitesimally close to the original source material. DSD uses a sampling rate of 2.8224 MHz to directly record a 1-bit signal. Recording this signal directly eliminates the need for decimation filtering in the recording process and interpolation filtering in the playback process, allowing for the recording and playback of a digital signal that very closely resembles the shape of the original analog waveform. With a theoretical playback frequency range of up to 100kHz and a dynamic range in excess of 120dB across the audible range, software recorded in DSD makes it possible to reproduce even the most minute high range musical elements. The superior features of DSD have won the praise and respect of well-known artists and sound engineers throughout the world.

Copyright Protection Technologies

The Super Audio CD implements the following technologies to prevent digital music content from unauthorized copying and piracy:

(1)Invisible Watermarking: All Super Audio CD software incorporates a mandatory invisible watermark that is physically embedded in the substrate of the disc. Virtually impossible to copy, the invisible watermark is used to conduct mutual authentication of the player and the disc. SACD players will reject pirated discs because they do not bear an authentic invisible watermark.
(2)Visible Watermarking: At the request of software providers, faint letters or images that are extremely difficult to copy clearly can be implemented on the surface of the disc, making it easy for consumers, retailers, and disc inspectors to distinguish between authentic and counterfeit discs.
(3)Content Encryption: At the request of software providers, digital music content can be encrypted before it is recorded on the disc.

Disc Variations

Software providers may choose from several disc variations specified in the Super Audio CD format, including single layer, dual layer, and hybrid disc constructions. The single layer disc contains one layer of high-density content; the dual layer disc contains two layers of high-density content; and the hybrid disc contains one layer of high density content and one layer of CD content, allowing the disc to be played back in ordinary CD players.

Truly, the Super Audio CD format has been developed to offer the highest quality sound achievable with great consideration given to protecting the rights of copyright holders, and it is undoubtedly the best sounding audio format currently available. Sony plans to actively promote the Super Audio CD to other hi-fi manufacturers in hopes of stimulating the growth of the entire audio industry.

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its music, pictures and computer entertainment operations make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of over $51 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998, and it employs approximately 170,000 people worldwide.
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