Price of Debuting DCC Going Up


The launch date of the heralded digital compact cassette (DCC) player, the showcase item at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, is close. But for the average consumer, there’s no reason to jump for joy just yet.

The first model, the Philips’ DCC900, will cost more than expected: $700 to $800 when it hits the market in September, said Mike Piehl, marketing manager of the audio division of Philips, which developed the format. When Philips announced plans to develop the DCC a few years ago, the price of the first model was projected at $400 to $500.

The DCC format offers a digital tape that delivers CD-quality sound. One of its main selling points is its ability to handle two kinds of cassettes. Not only do DCC units play and record digitally, they also play standard cassettes.


Audiophiles contend that the quality of DCC sound is a shade less than that offered by digital audio tape (DAT) but the difference is negligible to most listeners.

Blank DCC tapes, Piehl said, will be priced like a high-quality metal standard cassette--about $7.

Compensating for the high price of the DCC deck is something that should make it more attractive than the DAT, an expensive format that has settled into a high-end niche--appealing mostly to audiophiles and music-industry professionals. DCC’s advantage is the support of the record industry, which DAT has never had.

“All six major record labels are putting out music on DCC,” Piehl said, adding that there will probably be an announcement about the price of recorded DCC cassettes at the Chicago convention next week. “There will be about 500 prerecorded titles available in September when the unit is marketed. This is a crucial part of the DCC appeal. History has shown that any new technology, without software support, tends to fail,” he said.

In software support, DCC also has a considerable edge on Sony’s Mini Disc--a tiny recordable CD also due out in the fall.

A bonus of the DCC deck, Piehl said, is that it provides, when playing recorded cassettes, title and song information on a display screen.


While the Philips unit will be first on the market, other companies will also market models. Launch dates of these other models will be announced at the Chicago convention.

Reduced ‘Lambs’: On Wednesday, Orion dropped the price on “The Silence of the Lambs,” which swept the major Oscars in March. Since the movie came out on home video last fall with a price tag in the $95-to-$100 range, it has primarily appealed to renters. The new price, geared to collectors, is $20.

“Marlene,” Maximilian Schell’s splendid documentary about actress Marlene Dietrich, has been on the home video market for several years but generally has been hard to find. With great interest in Dietrich since her death, New Line is re-releasing it at $15 on June 24.

What’s New on Video: Here are some recent releases:

*”JFK” (Warner, 95). Director Oliver Stone’s star-studded, three-hour-plus movie, about the relentless investigation of the John Kennedy assassination by Dist. Atty. Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner), was generally praised as first-rate dramatic entertainment, though many attacked Stone’s conspiracy theory.

* “City of Hope” (Columbia TriStar, no list price). Writer-director John Sayles’ sprawling, often disturbing tale of the tensions driving a wide cross-section of characters in a decaying Northeastern metropolis, boasts an abundance of neatly interwoven stories and dozens of characters. Vincent Spanos stars.

* “Company Business” (MGM/UA, $95). Engaging stars (Gene Hackman and Mikhail Baryshnikov) somewhat uplift this tepid espionage drama about American and Russian secret agents, whose once-intriguing battles have limited appeal now that the cold war with Russia is over.


Upcoming on Video: Paramount is releasing “Wayne’s World” to the sales market on Aug. 12, at $25. Also on Paramount’s summer schedule, “Juice,” the coming-of-age drama set in the black community, due July 29. MCA/Universal’s “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot,” the action comedy featuring Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty, is coming out on July 16. “Shining Through,” featuring Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith, is out July 2. The surprise-hit thriller “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” starring Rebecca de Mornay, is scheduled for July 8 release.

Others: “Father of the Bride,” “My Girl” and “Indian Runner” are out Wednesday; “For the Boys” (Thursday); “Cape Fear” (June 4); “Naked Lunch” (June 11), “Kuffs” and “The Addams Family” (June 18); “Grand Canyon” (June 25).