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Hybrid SACD Production Ramps Up

Sony Disc Manufacturing (SDM) expanded production of hybrid SACD/CD discs to three plants in early May from one, marking the latest in a recent series of moves by Sony and other replicators to increase hybrid production.

Sony turned on one hybrid line in Austria and one here in its Terre Haute facility, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding. Each Sony line is capable of producing 15,000 hybrid discs per day. They supplement SDM’s 30,000/day capacity on two lines at a Japan plant that began hybrid production last July, officials said. All three facilities continue to produce non-hybrid SACD discs.

The Sony plants account for three of the world’s six, and soon-to-be seven, hybrid-disc plants. One is operated by Sonopress in Germany with two lines. Another was launched by Crest in the United States in November 2002 with one line, and Viva Magnetics of Hong Kong launched production in Hong Kong in April 2003 with one line, with a second Viva plant with one line to follow midyear in Toronto.

With hybrid production going online in three Sony plants with a total of five lines, plus Viva’s two lines, Sonopress’ two, and Crest’s one, a total of 10 lines with a capacity of more than 30 million hybrids per year will be operating by mid-2003, a Philips spokesperson noted. That will represent a 30x increase in capacity during a year’s time, Philips said.

The Terre Haute facility, one of SDM’s two optical-disc plants in the U.S., launched hybrid production by pressing Sony Music’s first hybrid disc: Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. In all, SDM plans this year to produce 16 Dylan hybrids for Sony Music. All will be Sony Music’s first hybrids.

In a change of plans, Sony Music said six of 16 planned Dylan hybrids will feature a multichannel SACD mix in addition to a stereo SACD mix. Previously, the company said it would launch 15 hybrid Dylan discs this year and that all would feature only stereo SACD mixes.

SDM is targeting a fall production capacity of 1.55 million DVD discs per day.