|What Is DVD-Audio?|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Monday, 01 December 2003|
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Buying DVD-Audio Discs
At this point, DVD-Audio confuses the heck out of the bolt-nosed, purple-haired clerks at most record shops. All they want to do is ring up orders, so they tend to not care about anything new or exciting in the store that isn’t easy to sell. No matter what, don’t let the salespeople get you down. Many record stores like Tower Records, Virgin and Best Buy have dedicated “audiophile” sections in their stores that have DVD-Audio and SACD titles for sale. Just find these areas and you are in business.
Be careful not to get confused, because the record labels are out to make your life difficult again with the packaging of DVD-Audio. The typical DVD-Audio title comes in what is called a “super jewel case,” which is physically slightly bigger than a CD case. The competing SACD comes in a more CD-like case often, with rounded corners and stickers that explain what permutation of disc you have in your hands. Before you get in the checkout line, make sure you read the stickers on the disc. There is nothing more frustrating than buying the wrong disc. Also be careful not to miss DVD-Audio discs packaged in standard CD cases or even in standard DVD-Video cases. For example, Blue Man Group’s Audio album is a DVD-Audio disc that is packaged in DVD-Video packaging. Not only is it confusing for the retailers and consumers, it makes for a difficult storage situation when you get a collection going at home. The Audio album is really fun if you can find it.
To date, the best and least expensive place to buy DVD-Audio discs is on the Internet. Not everyone will buy things online, but the inventory is better and more organized than in retail stores, with sound clips, reviews and lower prices. Many DVD-Audio labels sell their titles directly to customers from their own websites.
What Is A Universal Player?
A universal player is one that plays many AV formats, including DVD-Audio, SACD, DVD-Video and beyond. They tend to be affordable in cost (well under $1000) and allow you to build a collection of DVD-Audio and/or SACD discs, even if you are still heavily invested in CD and stereo music playback. Many audiophiles consider a universal player a way to protect against buying the wrong player now at a high price. The downside to universal players is that they don’t have the same parts quality in most cases as do the high-end DVD-Audio/Video players from companies like Classe, Meridian and others. If you are coming out of the analog outputs of a DVD-Audio player, your audio quality is based largely on the quality of the DACs in your player. Cheap DACs found in cheap players sound, well, cheap. More expensive players use better transports that reduce jitter (digital distortion), have better DACs and/or use their own special digital connections that bypass DACs completely. That is the best way to go. Direct digital high-resolution connection from your player to your preamp or receiver sounds absolutely amazing, especially when compared to using any DACs in your player, no matter how pricey the player is.