The Birth of the Surround Music Awards

This issue of Surround Professional marks four years of publication. That’s four years of cutting-edge technology and four years of profiles of innovators and innovative facilities. The surround market is still maturing and developing, but significant strides have been taken in those four years. The market will continue to morph and evolve, to be sure, but we can already declare it a movement.

The development of the surround consumer market, and, thus, the professional market needed to feed it, has developed slower than anticipated. The late start for DVD-A, the rivalry between Super Audio CD and DVD-A, and the economy have all been cited as reasons for the slow start, but all isn’t negative. Engineers new to surround have had a little more time to experiment and develop an aesthetic feel for multichannel production. Facilities have had time to incorporate surround hardware, making sure new gear is high-resolution and surround ready as old gear is naturally replaced, rather than having to retool in a panic.

Surround music titles are reaching the shelves of fine retail establishments nationwide. Not just in the form of music videos and concerts on DVD-V, but also on Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio, in all their high-resolution, multichannel glory. The rate of release is accelerating and the number of titles in catalog are growing.

In recognition of the burgeoning number of surround music releases, it’s high time that multichannel music has its own set of awards — a program of tribute for the titles at the leading edge of the surround movement. The Surround 2002 Conference and Showcase, the premier annual event for surround education and surround industry networking, is slated for December 13th and 14th at the Beverly Hilton. On the evening of the 13th, we are preparing a gala event that will see the first annual presentation of the Surround Music Awards.

The awards program will recognize titles across the breadth of the multichannel music movement, released in the past year. The award categories are: Best Of Show, for the title that best exemplifies the state-of-the-art and the highest state of creativity in all facets of production; Best Made-For-Surround Title, for the most outstanding title created from its inception with multichannel in mind; Best Mix — Non-Orchestral, for the title that features the most compelling multichannel recording and mix; Best Mix — Orchestral, for the title that features the most compelling multichannel orchestral recording and mix from the previous year, including orchestral film soundtracks; Most Adventurous Mix, for the title that features the most adventurous use of all the available channels in the genre; Best Additional Features, for the title that includes the most compelling extra features besides the primary music program; Best Hi-Res Stereo-Only Program, for the best high-resolution 96 kHz or higher sampling rate, or Super Audio CD, stereo-only title; Best Standard Resolution Title, for the best multichannel music title presented in a standard resolution (Dolby Digital, DTS, or matrixed surround) DVD-Video or 48/44.1 kHz formats; Best Menu Design for the title that features not only the most creative menu graphics, but the easiest to navigate as well; Best Concert Video, for the best multichannel mix of a concert; and Best Multichannel Reissue, for the best multichannel mix of a catalog title previously released in mono, 2-channel, or matrixed surround.

And if that’s not enough, our celebrity host (at press time, we’re agonizingly close to revealing his name) will present the first annual Surround Pioneer award. The first Pioneer award will go to the imminently deserving Elliot Schiener, a man who’s single-handedly mixed and produced more groundbreaking surround music titles than any other. Please join us as we honor Elliot and the top surround music releases at this year’s conference.

Next issue we’ll rejoin our Guest Editor program, with a visit from Renaissance man George Massenburg — one of an elite few who has successfully worn the hats of producer, engineer, equipment designer, and manufacturer. Until then…

Frank Wells
Executive Editor, Surround Professional

Surround Professional Magazine