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What Is DVD-Audio? Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Article Index
What Is DVD-Audio?
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Copy Protection
DVD-Audio is a copy-protected format that allows artists and record labels to keep you from making “illegal” recordings of the music. Many labels opt to not use the copy protection. Others allow you to make a few copies. It is basically up to the label or the artist as to how they want to encrypt the disc. Another deterrent to copying DVD-Audio discs and sharing them on the Net or ripping them on a hard drive is that songs on DVD-Audio are huge files. Some day, demand for DVD-Audio might be so strong that stealing the songs will be a big issue for labels, but for now, making consumers want to buy the format is a far bigger issue. Also, if anyone wanted to copy music from DVD-Audio, they can certainly take the analog output of the stereo version of the record and use that to rip on their computer or MP3 device.

The Future of DVD-Audio
The format war is far from over, but so far DVD-Audio has support from 3.5 of the five major labels. Warner Brothers (WEA) is the driving force behind the DVD-Audio format so far, but EMI, BMG and Universal Music Group have started releasing DVD-Audio tiles to the market. SACD is mainly supported by Sony Music and Universal Music. Both formats in the high-resolution audio format war have support from various indie and/or audiophile labels.

Industry experts predict that what will allow DVD-Audio to replace CDs in the marketplace will be the proposed “DualDisc” - a "flip disc" that has a DVD-Audio layer on one side and a CD layer on the other side. This proposed disc is reportedly designed to replace the CD as the format major labels will utilize for releasing new music. In principle, the idea sounds great, but it has yet to be approved by the DVD Forum (although this is expected very shortly). Another potential problem with the DualDisc is the thickness of the disc - it is lightly thicker than a regular one, and there were initial concerns (that turn out to be unfounded) that they might get stuck in slot-loading players such as those found in cars. Car audio is a very important market for the playback of pre-recorded music, including DVD-Audio and DVD-Video.

SACD has a “hybrid” disc that has shipped to the marketplace and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies to date, with albums like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the Bob Dylan catalog. Hybrid SACDs play in CD players just like normal CDs do, as well as playing back high-resolution stereo and surround sound music.

If you are looking for a new way to make music sound better or more exciting in your system, you might want to order up a few DVD-Audio titles. There aren’t thousands of big titles yet, but many of the ones on the market are very well done and new titles are released each week. You might find that you like listening to music with the added resolution of stereo DVD-Audio or you might fall in love with the possibilities of hearing your music mixed for surround.

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