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SACD or DVD-A - which way will the industry go

 

Boots
Just got a great HT system (NADT742 and PSB speakers)
I have an older DVD player and wanted to upgrade to a Progressive Scan (Have a HD Hitachi 51S500 TV), but wanted to get one with newer audio formats. Anyone have any thoughts on which way the industry will go for the next step in audio ...Super Audio CD (SACD) or DVD Audio (DVD-A)?
Don't want to get stuck with a Beta Max if you know what I mean!
Boots
 

Black Math
Make sure you can by software that is backwards compatible to the cd format. That way it will be useable in the future.
 

Hawk
Boots:

Big question! Unfortunately, I don't think there is an answer. At least not yet.

Three weeks ago, I would have said DVD-A (and I got an SACD player a year ago largely because I didn't know any better) would win because it makes more sense. The SACD format is still a variation on the CD format which is over 25 years old. DVD technology is much newer. Additionally, SACD is being pushed by Sony, the originator of the SACD format and Sony wants big licensing fees for SACD players.

However, it will be driven by the software. Sony owns the largest music software company and can put out SACDs in droves. DVD-A's biggest supporter was Time Warner, but TW just agreed to sell off its music business, so nobody knows what the new owners are going to do.

So, I would wait this out until some things become more clear.
 

G-Man
Best bet is buying a universal dvd player with both DVD-Audio/SACD. That way it makes no difference if either wins or both win. Also it insures that the surround audio disc you may want to buy is playable--whether it is released in either DVD-Audio or SACD. Rarely, if ever, are they released in both.

They both are working on backward compatibility--and some already are. Of course, the most important criteria is how well the recording is engineered. A poorly recorded cd, SACD, or DVD-Audio is bad no matter what.

Surround is already the present, nevermind the future. That is why the main reason I read that people don't buy the excellent Outlaw Audio receiver is because it doesn't have Dolby Prologic II. If it did it might kill the sales of most receivers up to $850 or more, if many people heard of it.

If you have a great surround speakers the Dolby Pro Logic II (and the recently released IIX) is quite an impressive algorithm.

If you just have two excellent front speakers, then you might prefer the cd in stereo mode.

It is a matter of taste.

No doubt, a very well engineered DVD-Audio disc can be mind blowingly good when heard through excellent surround speakers. I have a few SACD and DVD-Audio discs that are great--and some that are poor re-mixes of LP,s or dc's, or some where the engineers just don't have their act together yet.

CD's went through the same growing pains. Many of the early ones, both copies of LP's and original recordings were atrocious until the engineering and miking knowledge got disseminated through the industry.
 

3m3rson
Yes, either wait or go universal.. be careful though, as a SACD & DVD-A capable player may not be that good of a redbook CD player (such is the case with the Pioneer DVD-563A, apparently).

I only have a stereo system, and instead of upgrading to surround, I've chosen to spend the money on improving my system's playback of redbook CDs. A decent external DAC (~$600) with HDCD decoding or 24/96 or 24/192 remastering can do wonders when paired with a quality receiver and decent speakers. See this review... http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/msb_link_iii_upgrades.htm
 

New member
Username: Boots

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2003
Thanks for the replies all!
GMan - I know what you mean about production quality. With my new system, some of my old CDs just sound pretty good (better than before)...BUT some sound phenomenal! Ricky Lee Jones' "Flying Cowboys" sounds amazing! Also, i bought Steely Dan's DVD in 5.1, "Two against Nature" and I am blown away by the sound. I had the Eagles CD "Hell Freezes Over" and it sounded really good on the new system, but I bought the DVD in 5.1, and there is no comparison. The DVD has MUCH better sound and seperation.
So,I think what I'd like to go with is a DVD/CD player with Progressive scan (so I can take advantage of my HDTV) that will also play both SACD and DVD-A. Any thoughts or suggestions on available models, prices and sites to purchase would be appreciated!
Boots
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 10
Registered: 12-2003
It depends on your budget and if you are connecting the dvd player directly to the HDTV or to the receiver.

I would presume since you have a Nad T742 it doesn't have the most sophisticated connections--so you are better off connecting the video directly to the HDTV and the audio to the NAD.

On the least expensive side is the Pioneer 563 at $249--can usually be had for $200 or a little less. The Denon 2200 can be gotten at around $495--list $599. The Denon 2900 can be gotten at around $775-$825--lists at $999. It is built like a tank. I have this model and a Pioneer Elite 47AVi, which would have been good if you had a firewire receiver.

Some people like the Yamaha 2300--same price as the Denon 2900.

None of these have DVI connections and the two cheap ones that don't have other problems--the Bravo and the Samsung--I'd steer clear of them.

The only new one coming out with DVI--actually HDMI, which combines DVI-D with digital audio, is the Pioneer Elite 59AVi--it is expensive $1600--can be gotten around $1200. If you had firewire or a good sized budget it is probably going to be great, but I would pass on it with the NAD.

Advantages other than firewire are HDMI and T-REX chipset, that upscales standard pixel dvd discs to HDTV--pretty cool.

I'd stick with the Denon 2200 or 2900 in your situation.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2003
You may want to add Phillips or Marantz to the short list of affordable universal players. They are very well reviewed. These players may give you an edge with SACD due to the fact that Phillips helped developed the format.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 21
Registered: 12-2003
So far I have only seen Sony's and Philips with SACD--no DVD-Audio. Maybe because they both co-invented SACD--although at that time SACD was strictly a stereo format.

Yes--Marantz makes a fine universal player--lists at around $1400.

At that price range however, I would go for the new Pioneer Elite 59AVi. That lists for $1600 but I have seen pre-orders for $1200. The Marantz doesn't have HDMI, firewire, or the T-REX chip.

While I cannot predict the future, I am pretty confident we will all see more HDTV's with HDMI and firewire. We will also see more AV receivers and HDTV receivers with these inputs/outputs. Good thing too. They carry incredible bandwidth and do it more accurately than any other interconnects. And they are totally digital.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2003
Marantz has a universal player for around $500...DV6400.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 25
Registered: 12-2003
Sorry for my oversite. With the b udget of your system I would either go least expensive-Pioneer 563a @ ~$200, Pioneer Elite 45, Marantz @ $500, or at most the PE 47AV which 5 have seen at $595.

I doubt you want to spend much more on the dvd player than the receiver.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 29
Registered: 12-2003
The Pioneer Elite 45a dvd player lists at $400 and sells at Downtown Audio for $349 and the 47avi sells there at $595--good price. You might be able to use the i-link on the 47avi to hook up to the the Hitachi, which I think also has firewire. That would make for very high quality video connection. I'd check with Hitachi or Pioneer whether it could be done and then just send the analogue audio part to the receiver. If it works you get the highest and cleanest bandwidth possible for a connection that is totally digital video from dvd to HDTV, with no receiver interference.

Maybe if someone knows the answer to that here they can answer it.
 

rto
Unregistered guest
I own a Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai, and while the picture is phenomenal, this unit cannot output a digital video signal through the firewire port.
This connection is for digital AUDIO only. Samsung makes a DVD player (model # DVD-HD931)
which has a DVI digital VIDEO output. It lists
for $299.
 

New member
Username: Boots

Post Number: 2
Registered: 12-2003
Great information guys! Thank you all!
My Hitachi does not have Firewire ... so I would be using DVI or Component Video to the TV, and Digital Optical for the audio from the DVD player to the NADT742. The Pioneer Elite 45a is about in my budget. Would this be good?
Thanks!
Boots
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 41
Registered: 12-2003
The 45a (to the best of my knowledge) only connects digitally to the receiver in DVD Video and cd's. You will still need to connect SACD and DVD-A audio via the 6 analogue interconnects to the receiver. Many people connect the video straight to the HDTV (or TV) via the component (RGB) interconnects---or to the receiver --if the receiver has component interconnects --or to the receiver non-componently, if the receiver has the ability to upgrade the signal to component before you connect the video receiver output to the HDTV.

Sadly the Bravo and Samsung are the only 2 current DVI dvd players and they have too many other flaws to consider them above the other universal platers previously mentioned.

It seems the new HDTV's have been much quicker adding DVI-D and even firewire than have the AV receivers. But we will gradually see DVI input/output along with the more advanced HDMI input/output, and firewire on AV receivers and preamps and HDTV terrestrial/Dish/DirecTV receivers.

The government has provided poor leadership on this. They were good a few years back when the FCC mandated digital HDTV. But our current administration has been rather laissez-faire (to be kind) or just not sure who's bottom to kiss---the program providers or the consumers. Consumers don't give money to the congressmen like the program providers. Hopefully what is good for the consumer will win out---
 

New member
Username: Boots

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2003
Thanks Greg. I will be connecting the DVD directly to the TV. Currently I use component video cables, but the TV does have a DVI input. The cable box is currently connected to the TV directly using component video and the HD stations look terrific! I guess what I am looking for is a player that will play DVD-A and SACD, with the audio output being digital optical and the video being DVI (if I can get that) Would I not be taking full advantage of the progressive scan DVD if it did not have a DVI output, but just component video?
Thanks again!
Boots
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 48
Registered: 12-2003
So far there are no dvd players with digital audio outputs for SACD/DVD-A Audio. Much of this has to do with the fear that music publishing companies have about people making numerous exact duplicates--which seems to happen more in the Asian rim than in the US. Here, most people just want a back-up copy for various reasons. Most people don't want to buy multi thousand dollar dvd copier machines that can crank out lots of exact duplicates in short order.

In other areas of the world where money id far more scarce the people don't seem to mind paying for pretty bad copies of movies and SACD's/DVD-A's.

So I think the companies that own the copyrighted material (movies and music) are just scared, rather than logical.

Most people in Europe and the west want asgood copies or originas as possible to play on their HDTV's and good surround equipment. And these people mostly just want good digital back-up--they don't want to make a business out of selling cd's and dvd's.

But the music and movie owners are so scared they don't want to give any quarter to anyone--even if most of the people who want to buy DVD recorders that can copy HDTV programs have no desire to get into the business of selling these copies.

Plus it is easy enough to make it illegal to sell these copies.

But so far the only way to make an HDTV copy is to get one of the few Hitachi or Mitsu sets that have two-way firewire and record it to a D-VHS made by JVC--Mitsu and Marantz may still have some firewire recordable Digital VHS machines. But digital tape is expensive---no one would do this for a business, only for archiving not for sale programs in the best format.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 49
Registered: 12-2003
So far there are no dvd players with digital audio outputs for SACD/DVD-A Audio. Well, the soon to be released Pioneer Elite 59AVi will have HDMI, which consists of digital video of a DVI and digital audio. Problem is there are no current HDMI HDTV's or AV receivers. Pioneer is coming out with some plasma sets and maybe some CRT rear projection sets with HDMI--but they will all be copy protected (encrypted) so copying them in HDTV or pure digital format willbe impossible. In Japan there are some two-way firewire connections on some HDTV's, AV receivers, and dvd palyers. But not here and with the lobbying in congress not likely.

Much of this has to do with the fear that music publishing companies have about people making numerous exact duplicates--which seems to happen more in the Asian rim than in the US. Here, most people just want a back-up copy for various reasons. Most people don't want to buy multi thousand dollar dvd copier machines that can crank out lots of exact duplicates in short order.

In other areas of the world where money id far more scarce the people don't seem to mind paying for pretty bad copies of movies and SACD's/DVD-A's.

So I think the companies that own the copyrighted material (movies and music) are just scared, rather than logical.

Most people in Europe and the west want asgood copies or originas as possible to play on their HDTV's and good surround equipment. And these people mostly just want good digital back-up--they don't want to make a business out of selling cd's and dvd's.

But the music and movie owners are so scared they don't want to give any quarter to anyone--even if most of the people who want to buy DVD recorders that can copy HDTV programs have no desire to get into the business of selling these copies.

Plus it is easy enough to make it illegal to sell these copies.

But so far the only way to make an HDTV copy is to get one of the few Hitachi or Mitsu sets that have two-way firewire and record it to a D-VHS made by JVC--Mitsu and Marantz may still have some firewire recordable Digital VHS machines. But digital tape is expensive---no one would do this for a business, only for archiving not for sale programs in the best format.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 50
Registered: 12-2003
If people wait a year or so there will be a lot more HDMI HDTV's, DVD players, and maybe AV surround receivers. You won't be able to make digital copies, but at least you will be able to get far better video and audio and all with the use of one firly inexpensive cable, since HDMI has huge bandwidth.

Wire companies and retailers will hate this. Currently they mostly get to sell 3 expensive interconnects for component video if you connect from the dvd player to the HDTV and another 6 analogue interconnects if you connect from the dvd player to the HDTV.

If you connect the dvd player to the receiver first then you double the amount of interconnects I mentioned about. This is great for the dealers and wire manufacturers. Of course, if you have a receiver with fire wire and a dvd player with firewire you at least get a direct digital connection on video to the receiver--such as the few Pioneer Elite i-link receivers and dvd players. There are a couple of other companies with similar connections--rare and more expensive than the PE's.

 

New member
Username: Heff

Post Number: 41
Registered: 12-2003
how about the Denon DVD-5900? It has DVI-D (HDCP) Output with selectable 480p/720p/1080i output.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 56
Registered: 12-2003
True--if you want to spend $2,000. If you can afford it--a great unit. Works real well if you own a Denon 5803 receiver--as it has Denon-link, which is something like i-link is for Pioneer Elite's.

But I would probably wait a month or two when the PE 59AVi gets released and can be gotten for $1200 or less. It has HDMI--which is a combination-type DVI for video and digital audio. Problem is finding the AV receiver for the digital audio link. There are adapters for HDTV's DVI connections and Pioneer will have some Plasma and rear projection sets with HDMI. Other companies will have HDTV's and probably AV receivers in the next year or two.
 

New member
Username: Heff

Post Number: 42
Registered: 12-2003
Denon's DVD-5900 available at elegant audio. $1550 today. If not within your budget, you can wait a month or two and the price will probably be less.
 

New member
Username: Boots

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2003
Wow! That's a lot of great information. My budget is really low compared to some of the units you guys are recommending. Right now I only have $300 or so to spend. I see the Pioneer Elite 45a has component video outputs, and it also says it has optical digital out.
So, I guess I have two questions:
1. As there do not seem to be any lower priced units with DVI output for the video, would I lose much by using the Component Video outputs from the unit straight into my HDTV?

2. Gregory, you said above that "So far there are no dvd players with digital audio outputs for SACD/DVD-A Audio." Does that mean that the Digital Optical audio out on the Pioneer Elite 45a (which I will run straight in to my NAD)will only give the audio signal from a DVD, and not from DVD-A or SACD? That's a puzzler.
Hope to hear soon!
Boots
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 59
Registered: 12-2003
The Denon 5900 DVI output is for video--not for audio. Audio output is still analogue.

Boots--

So far all digital optical or digital coaxial outputs for Audio on dvd players are for cd's and dvd video only. You still need to use 6 interconnects for the audio surround in SACD/DVD-A in analogue. They will give the signal--but only in analogue.

So the Pioneer 45a will give your NAD the audio for SACD/DVD-A--as long as the NAD has the appropriate inputs (can't imagine that they don't).

DVI means digital VIDEO interface. So it has no effect on the audio. And good component inputs are fairly comparable in quality. The only problem will be that eventually everything will be either sent with DVI or HDMI with encryption--so you can't make copies in HDTV quality. At best we can probably hope for encryption that allows one or two copies. The program supply companies are busy at work paying off our congressmen and senators to make sure the consumer gets scruuud!

Hopefully they will allow older units to still use component video inputs.

We should all write our congressmen on this. The consumer should be more important than fears that program suppliers have.

This is probably why only some Hitachi and Mitsu HDTV's have firewire and DVI. Neither company is in the program supply business. But they are under pressure. Currently you can make HDTV copies on those HDTV's through the firewire onto a D-VHS recorders/players made by JVC. There might be one or two other compnies. But Digital tape is expensive.

I have certainly noticed that not one DVD recorder has firewire input. Obviously the evil empires have put the fear of God into them--or lawsuits or whatever. Maybe just the fear of making their lives tough.

You'd think on some of those new and expensive DVD recorders they would have firewire inputs. But Nooooo. And as the HDTV's with DVI are encrypted, they can't send a HDTV signal to be copied--only those sets with 2-way firewire which so far is not encrypted.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 32
Registered: 12-2003
Boots,

Personally, for that money I would look at the Cambridge Audio DVD57. It has NTSC/PAL progressive and DVD-A, not SACD.

Gregory,

We have had similar discussions before. I agree with all your views about encryption and copy protection. I think the only virtue of SACD is to the manufacturers; they hope it will hook purchasers of players to buy dics, and of discs to buy players. It is designed as a format first of all with extrememly strong copy protection. Therefore it is an attempt to boost sales - that is all it is. Is has only become multi-channel because Sony-Philips saw DVD-A coming and did not want to miss a trick.

Part of my own learning curve (and thanks to G-Man among others) on DVD-Audio and SACD is on this forum, on What does"DVD-audio" mean here?. There are some links there to major issues from the point of view of manufacturers.

As consumers, we decide what will be the surround audio format. I personally not only vote for DVD-A, I would not consider wasting money on SACD - I do not wish to be owned by Sony/Phillips.

There is also an honesty factor. If SACD were some step forward, it would not be necessary for SACDs now available to be separate re-mixes of old recordings, designed to make you think there is stereo sound improvement over CD - in fact it is impossible to do an honest A/B comparision because the mix is different. If SACD were really an improvement, you would be permitted to compare, and decide for yourself. Also, twenty years ago, Sony-Phillips said the CD, the first major digital format, gave "perfect sound that lasts forever". That is part of their track record of claims for the formats they own. It is great fun that many hyped SACDs now are actually mostly re-mixes of analogue recording made before CD was even thought of - not only can S-P improve on perfection, they go back to older source material, by their own claim rendered obsolete in 1982, in order to demonstrate the improvement. I suggest their real motive is market-orientated; buy your favourite old LP in the new format; the wrinklies can maybe afford it, now.

Today, I would get a DVD-A player for surround sound, but remember also that DTS, which DVD-V players have, is probably as good (G-Man has disagreed before on this). For playing Bob Dylan or anything from the 60s/70s, really, if I thought I were missing something on CD, then I would get a turntable and a newly-pressed vinyl LP. It is sad that the Columbia catalogue is now owned Sony. That really was a sell-out. I am not anti-Sony. They made some great products and innovations. But they have now got so big think they own us, and can call the shots with bogus claims for proprietory formats.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 62
Registered: 12-2003
John A--

It is just that adding DVD-A isn't all that expensive to a dvd player. There certainly are measurement advantges, if not audible ones. But to me it is so relatively inexpensive to go DVD-a--why not get it? If you can't afford it yet--then wait.

I got SACD too because there are artists that are only available on SACD. While adding SACD is more expensive due to licensing fees from Sony/Philips--I still don't find it all that onerous.

And I am certainly not investing more money on LP's--which seem to cost more than discs and deteriorate. And I have a large LP collection from years ago. But hearing ticks and higher noise levels compared to a good disc makes little sense. The LP companies have to charge a lot--as they hardly sell any and need to make the money backon small pressings.

Heck, people buy cd copies of old LP's. What is the difference of Sony releasing SACD's of LP's or cd's? No one forces anyone to buy these. If you like the cd and you like surround--play it through Prologic II. Or listen through stereo. The choice is yours. The customer benefits by choices.

I agree--I wish Sony didn't own any programming. But they are a little fish compared to Microsoft's control of the PC market. Probably why Sony stock and cash position isn't so great. Microsoft sits on a pile of tens of billions.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 34
Registered: 12-2003
Gregory,

I agree totally. I nearly added to my last post "...just like Microsoft".

I think manufacturers who want to deliver the very best sound quality for the money will not adopt SACD readily, unless the market gives them no choice. There is a nice pdf of a statement from Arcam linked from here. It is relatively easy for them to add DVD-A capability, but SACD requires a different transport mechanism from CD, DVD-V and DVD-A - this, again, is for protection: SACD watermarking has to be verified on the transport. Also, Arcam and others would have to include a new and arguably inferior MPEG decoder/audio decoder. Of course, if money is no object, then, why not? But there are very few for whom that is really the case. If someone's ceiling for a player is say, US$ 300 - 500, why compromise on sound for the sake of keeping options open? In their market niche, for example, what would be the point of NAD offering SACD? (BTW they are introducing DVD-A to their DVD players in February).

Of course there are serious SACD players and serious universal players. I learned about the re-mixing scam from "Krell does SACD" by Martin Colloms in November Hi-Fi News, reviewing the Krell SACD Standard (in UK, 4,245 quid...). It was impossible to make a direct comparison of SACD with CD from the same source., either subjective or with test equipment. One of the "hybrid" test discs from Telarc actually had the SACD layer 4 dB up compared with the CD layer, apart from differences in mixing and equlization. I am very suspicious.

I have not bought any of the new vinyl pressings, I am a long way from the major stores. But I have recently been re-listening to mid-1980s DMM LPs in a series from Hyperion, where I (and they) made the switch from LP to CD halfway through the releases. There really is no difference in sound quality you can point to compared with the subsequent CD releases played on a my newish DVD/CD player. Any differences are difficult to disentangle from subjective associations, memories, the artwork on the sleeve, all that. LPs certainly need a bit of looking after, but if you store them upright, keep off the dust, and use a good stylus, they can be played hundreds of times with no audible deterioration. And there is no compression. All arguments about sampling frequency disappear. Sound itself is analogue, as we know.

Many people spent a fortune replacing their LP collections with the same recordings on CD, for no gain in sound quality. Sony are undoubtedly hoping people will now throw away their CDs in order to "upgrade" again. I am sure this is what it's all about.

Multichannel is different, I agree. That is really something. There was a vogue for "quadraphonic" LPs in the 70s, but only complete nutters and the obscenely rich then had the technology behind the pickup cartridge. Today it is different - DVD is mass market stuff, for movies - 90 million players in the world, and rising. That will ease the transition, and make DVD-A the future surround standard, in my opinion. You can't have a DVD-A/SACD hybrid: the encoding of SACD is pulse width modulation. You have to choose formats. Again, there is no technical reason for PWM that I can see. The incompatabilty of the formats is to the advantage Sony if they win, they can rest secure that no-one is copying SACDs, and control the market, like Microsoft. The whole DVD-A/SACD issue is not about sound quality at all.
 

Anonymous
 
Could you explain the use and difference between SACD and DVD-A. including description of the formats. typical systems available to play these formats. availability of recordings.finaly how these formats will compete currently and in the near future.
 

New member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 34
Registered: 12-2003
the pioneer 563-A can now be had for $179 @ Best Buy...I am impressed with this universal player, not only because it plays both SACD and DVD-Audio, it also does not have the dreaded chroma bug on the DVD side.
Only thing I don't like---no bass management, otherwise an excellent universal player.
cheers
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 68
Registered: 12-2003
John A.-

I am certainly not rooting for Sony/Philips to win. DVD-A makes far more sense to me and for many of the same reasons you stated.

But let's not kid ourselves. CD's that are engineered equally well as LP's just sound better. Just look at the optimum specs of either--and I am talking about LP's played on a very expensive turntable and cartridge compared to a cd played on an inexpensive cd player. The bottom noise level, the frequency response, and other aspects are all superior.

Even most new LP's are mastered Digitally--not by analogue. The fact that sound waves are analogue and our ears pick up analogue signals is unimportant. Afterall, our brains, which really do the hearing are biological DAC's. They convert analogue through a biochemical DAC for us to interpret as sound. The brain doesn't hear analog waves. Same with eyesight. Optic nerves convert to chemical digital signals that our brain interprets.

So let's not get hung up on analogue and digital. Even mediocre DAC's are incredible now. Pretty much all info is or will be held in digital form. The best tv;s are digital. And as the technology improves--it will get better and better.

Nevermind the fidelity of LP's--they lost out to cassettes then cd's mostly because of portability. The fidelity was an extra bonus. The same thing with DVD over CD. Same size disc, but a dvd can hold much more bandwidth, be in surround, in DVD-A also show on your tv the lyrics and artwork. It can do a lot. There will be Walkman DVD-A disc players, surround players in your car, etc.

It is just what will happen. I think Sony will marginalize itself like it did with betamax through overcharging license fees. The only thing it currently has in its favor are artists signed to its label and subsidiary labels.

But they will either alienate their artists, the consumers, the component manufacturers, etc or they will find a way to accomodate.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 36
Registered: 12-2003
Anonymous,

DVD Audio is a pdf file (804 kb) of a 23-page document describing DVD-Audio and SACD. It is from a disc manufacturer, Delux Global Media Services Ltd.

Gregory,

I read the wise and informed opinions of G-Man once more. I agree on all points. Thank you. But we can get into the physics and psychophysics of sound and go on for ages I expect with "The fact that sound waves are analogue and our ears pick up analogue signals is unimportant". You are correct about our brains' biochemical DAC. I make four points, touched on before. 1. No-one knows exactly how it works. 2. There is a lot of analogue pre-processing by the ear itself, both the pinna and the auditory canal. (Try cupping your ear with your hand). 3. The DAC is in the ear itself and transmits nerve impulses to the brain via the auditory nerves. It is not a one-way process; there is info fed back, with as many nerve from brain to ear as vice versa (same true of vision - little known but important - see sci-fi junk e.g. Minority Report about eyeball transplants etc.). 4. Ears and brains are "designed" (take care with this word...) to sample analogue sound. I do not know the sampling frequency, it is probably not fixed (one of the things the return path does). 5. So what we want from speakers is analogue sound, the most faithful reproduction of the original source that the microphones (also analogue) detected. BTW sound also affects resonant cavities elsewhere in your body which is one reason headphones never quite do it (I speak for me). Also LF sound can be felt as vibration.

Now I grant that you can take the analogue signals from the microphones, store them digitally, and then convert them back into sound, and get no perceptible loss. You also get huge advantages in storage and ability to copy stored info quickly and easily. All I maintain is that analogue storage (LP; tape) is not intrinsically inferior. Either method can give loss and distortion if it is not optimised, of course: you have to compare like with like.

All I am saying is that the argument for SACD/DVD-A giving better sound than CD through higher sampling frequency must be bogus if CD was already way over the required sampling frequency, which is what the SAME manufacturers claimed for it. The fact that they now go back to analogue sources (master tapes etc) AND re-master them for SACD etc. shows how they can never have believed it themselves.

I completely agree that "digital LPs" lost the plot. The LPs I still have and find deeply satisfying come from before about the mid-1980s by which time even most LPs were mastered from digital recordings. Whether this is true of new pressings, I don't know. For new recordings, it probably is, but the original digital master for a modern recording is probably far superior to a CD.

Getting back to this thread and Boots's question, my main point is deep suspicion that stereo SACD, at least, is not about sound quality, but copy protection and bogus claims designed to induce people to shell out on uncopyable discs. The real advantage of multichannel is there in DVD-A, and this seems to be a more flexible spec (see above link).

The digital/analogue war was fought before the internet, in the correspondence pages of magazines and so on. Most everyone now prefers the convenience of CDs, including me. But CDs did not win the war on sound quality. For me, I fancy I can hear a bit of rumble on those Direct Metal LPs, but do not know whether it is my turntable or the original tape recorder. You still get worse rumble on some CDs, and digital transmission gave recording engineers a whole new bunch of stupid mistakes to make, and they still do, like confusing programme silence with digital zero. One of the benefits of digital re-mastering has been the amazing things they can now do with historical recordings, made on analogue machines before they reached the technical standards of about 1970-80. I'm not sure how old people are here, but anyone who thinks analogue is crude and primitive could go and listen to, say "A day in the life" from Sgt, Pepper (1967?) and remember all the mixing was done on analogues tape decks.

Hey, it's Christmas, and I've written another damn essay. But thanks for the comments. As I've said before, I think we agree on all the essentials. BTW betamax was generally thought a better standard than VHS, and is still the format in France. That was one battle Sony should have won. But they lost, probably for reasons you describe. One thing I like about open standards is the way is open for small operators with new ideas to make a lasting difference. Bottom line (if anyone is still reading) is vote with your purchasing power and go for DVD-A. For now. If you never had Bob Dylan or Frank Sinatra or whatever on LP, sure, get an SACD player, but there is no advantage over CD. That legacy stuff was never in surround, anyway. Probably it will be on DVD-A in a few years, when SACD goes away. Go look at the DAT postings on this site!

Merry Christmas. All the best.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 72
Registered: 12-2003
John A--

When I have the time I will read your DVD-A pdf file.

I agree. I never bought and would never buy SACD when all it was---was a supposedly gussied-up CD.

My point on DVD-A and SACD vary only in the well-engineered surround formats. I would never buy a SACD disc in stereo. That is a real snow job on the public.

My point is the enjoyment I get from good surround sound, the great fidelity, the great bandwidth, and the great convenience over LP's.

I will never shed a tear if SACD should go under---I may even cheer. If all the artists I would like to listen in surround were in DVD-A I'd be a happy camper. Unlike Betamax (which probably did perform better than VHS), I don't think SACD performs any better than DVD-a--heck--it is probably worse. And Sony/Philips attitude on it certainly makes me feel they might be repeating Sony's obnoxious attitude on Betamax.

Time will tell.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 4
Registered: 12-2003
I disagree on the stereo SACD snow job comment, totally false. Pick up a Bob Dylan remaster. The SACD version is superior to the original CD's (close call on LP's). The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in the DVD-A catalog that can compare to the Stones and Dylan SACD's. There is no need to remaster stereo works in surround, they tried it with quadrophonic and it failed misreably.

I have said this before, but SACD and DVD-A will most likely fail. The fastest growing format is MP3...go get your ipod, it is the future. SACD has the best chance of surviving because of Sony's catalog
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 73
Registered: 12-2003
If SACD and DVD-A have to rely on re-releases they will both fail. Just as if CD's had to rely on re-releases of LP's it would have failed. And at least CD's had the advantage of portability and the Walkman. SACD in stereo will only sell to a small fan following.

SACD in surround or DVD-A in surround will only ultimately succeed if they originally engineer and mix the music in surround that is backward compatible to stereo.

What new non-Sony music company would pay license fees to release in SACD? Damn few, if any. And I am not talking about SACD in stereo format---the future and present is in surround format, particularly with surround discs that will be capable of playing stereo also--as the DVD has huge bandwidth to fit it and have read from the companies releasing SACD and DVD-A they wiil be released in surround with stereo capability.

Sony has been motivated to release its catalog in SACD as it owns it. DVD-A is more like open source and it is inevitable plenty will be released, both new and old, by companies that refuse to pay Sony license fees. Even a DVD-A can be played on a DVD player, just not quite as well as on a DVD-A player. Can't be said of SACD.

MP3 is big and will get bigger. But it is not a high fidelity format. It is a convenience format.

Also MP3 is not a surround format. Look how many people refuse to buy a surround receiver without Dolby Prologic II--which is there to matrix cd's into a surround playback. Obviously the matrix isn't as good as a discrete muti-channel surround recording, but they demand surround.

Heck, from reading this forum about half the people would have bought the Outlaw Audio receiver if it had Prologic II--it was the deal killer for 95% or more of the people.


I have an Apple IPOD and play MP3's through my AV system. But when I want to seriously listen and also have others seriously listen i play cd's or SACD's in surround or DVD-A's in surround. They all love the surround on a well-engineered DVD-A or SACD. Much more than MP3--no contest.

I think Sony has a less chance of surviving unless they change their Betamax-type licensing fees that don't exist with the DVD-A VHS type situation.

Also, who knows whether Sony won't ever sell their catalog? Happens all the time. If Sony feels that MP3 is the future--what good will SACD be?

I don't think that many people will replace their Dylan and Stone cd's with stereo SACD's.

The future is in current and future artist recordings that are originally engineered for surround--not in re-worked material.

Of course, that is if the music industry doesn't implode from not offering added value, rather than MP3 copies.

If MP3 takes over the waterfront--the music companies will wither and die. They need to market something special that isn't downloadable as an MP3. The movie industry makes a fortune selling surround dvd's--and they aren't in HDTV yet. The public still views that as added value.

The music business to succeed in the future will have to offer something that MP3's and stereo doesn't. So far surround sound with artwork, lyrics, and whatever displayed on the HDTV while listening is one answer.

 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 37
Registered: 12-2003
Ben,

Gregory was correct: "Snow" is the right word. Your SACD Bob Dylan remaster is also a remix. It is not the same as the original LP, nor as the CD. You are not allowed to make a comparison.

Personally, I have a few Dylan LPs. My first knowledge of SACD was when my wife bought me one, unaware that it was not a CD (the shop didn't know that either). What Sony undoubtedly wanted was for me to go out and buy a new Sony SACD player. I didn't, and won't. Meanwhile, I saw the new LP pressing in Oxford Street. I intend to get it when I am next in London. The LP in question, Blonde on Blonde, beautifully illustrates what the retro-customer will get from an LP: the legendary sleeve (was it 1965?); exactly as the original; the layout (Sad Eye'd Lady on side 2 of disc 2 etc.). Whether it is a re-mix, too, I don't know, and I have no original to compare.

My son got an iPod for Xmas. Awesome little device, amazing sound for rock/pop, and beautiful design. When I can turf him off I am going to check out what it will really do with something sonically demanding. My son synched his entire 500 MB + iTunes collection from the computer in seconds, and without reading the instructions.

The great advantage of DVD is the bandwidth, as G-Man says. Just say "No" to comprexxion!

I would make my Christmas if someone who knows and cares nothing of Tudor polyphony would check out my nomination for the definitive surround test disc in both SACD and DVD-A on What does"DVD-audio" mean here? and report back.... It is a far cry from the Stones, I concede. Actually, Monteverdi changed the industry standard away from polyphony in 1610 and the Stones could not have happened without him. Always try to keep a broad perspective.... Funnily enough, most pre-1610 music absolutely demands surround sound. Almost nothing afterwards does. Least of all troubadors like Dylan and the Stones. (Of course the Church tried to clamp down on Monteverdi; they wanted market control. Like Sony. But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition...)

Christmas Card to fellow ecoustics posters, with thanks for the interest and entertainment. From an CD I own. No prizes for the ID, just praise.

Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 5
Registered: 12-2003
Now John,

I have the Dylan Lp's (including the Sundazed reissue of Blond on Blond in glorious mono), I am allowed to compare. Don't assume things you don't know.

Now Greg,

I am not saying that MP3 is better, just more popular. Kind of like Betamax, which was better than VHS. Most popular usually wins...like VHS.

Most studio's today are built to record in stereo and that won't change...too much ca$h to reconfigure. The only new surround recordings that you are going to see are fringe artists like the Flaming Lips and the god-awful classical ones.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 39
Registered: 12-2003
Ben, Gregory,

Ben: "I have the Dylan Lp's (including the Sundazed reissue of Blond on Blond in glorious mono), I am allowed to compare".

Then TELL US ABOUT IT! What is the "Sundazed reissue"? I am pretty sure I remember the original was in real stereo, it was remarkable, because mono was still mostly the standard at that time. But I could be wrong, it was a few years ago. I have later, stereo LP re-issues of earlier Dylan LPs and the stereo is stupid, there is just this guy singing with guitar and hamonica. When the harmonica suddently starts coming from the other side of the room you wonder what the .... is going on. How do the formats LP, LP reissue, CD, SACD really sound?

BTW there once a lot of mono back catalogue "electronically reprocessed to give stereo effect on stereo equipment". It was bad, bad. Prologic etc. does a much better job of extracting surround from stereo sources. It can do it because the stereo source has phase information. Mono had nothing to give cues for stereo.

Just to give a little back, Ben, please explain when assuming is OK. No need when you know; not allowed when you don't. "Blonde", BTW.

If Sony is serious about luring the market to SACD it will give EMI anything it asks to use SACD exclusively for the Beatles catalogue. Fortunately EMI has a mind of its own, and any takeover could well be the other way, and we would all be better off. I read that in 1980 John Lennon agreed finally to stereo remixes of the early Beatles LPs (Parlophone was even then part of EMI) "but only if George [Martin] does it". He did.

Re MP3 I have just tried a 20-bit EMI CD recording of Mahler 1 (CBSO/Rattle, 1992) on the iPod, and it is impressive but not hi-fi, really. Even in .aiff format, which ought to sound like the CD, it sounds greatly compressed, and .mp3 is dire. My analogue Sony Walkman does a far better job. I have not tried .acc, which is the format for iTunes from their store (US only at present, and only mass market stuff). Apple claim .acc is "CD quality", but it cannot possibly be. I still maintain that new audio technologies are rarely, if ever, addressed to sound quality, and this includes SACD. That's OK, the mass market doesn't care, and there is no reason why it should. It's folk being conned that annoys me. Though if the content is a con, too, there is not much to lose sleep over.

Ben: "Most studio's today are built to record in stereo and that won't change...too much ca$h to reconfigure".

Total nonsense; knee-jerk conservatism. Just wait and see. As Gregory said "The music business to succeed in the future will have to offer something that MP3's and stereo doesn't". Multi-channel recording is all I can see that they can offer at present, plus the on-screen stuff, as Gregory points out - it partly makes up for not having an LP sleeve. Downloading a 5.3 GB DVD is not going to be a trivial job for some time; so ready-made discs will continue to have added value. A 5.1 .mp3 format would bring a DVD down to about the size of a CD, but with huge loss of quality. That plus roaming wireless wide-band LANs may make a difference in a few years, provided surround headphones catch on.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 75
Registered: 12-2003
Within the next couple of years as the majority of the population has surround systems there will be a big demand for surround music discs. Those companies that don't upgrade will become the dinosaurs, not the other way around.

People are and will be spending multiple thousands of dollars on their HDTV's and their speakers and other components for surround set-ups. You think they are going to be satisfied with playing music in stereo anymore than they would be in watching DVD videos in stereo?

Most people listen to stereo when they have to now and that will be even more true in the future.

Why do you think 99% of all AV receivers have Dolby Prologic II and now coming out with IIX?
People want to listen to their music in surround.

This year Acura and Honda are releasing DVD-A in their cars. You can count on the fact that the rest of the car companies will follow suit. You think they did this without performing a market test?

Because of DVD video's surround sound, music surround is a SURE THING --people will demand the same performance for their audio. Actually they already do--how many DVD's would sell in stereo and not in surround?

This is probably why DVD-A will succeed--because the recording studios are already there. How do you think they record the multi-tracks on DVD video's?

Since SACD is a different technology, Sony is likely to have to either help foot the bill for many recording studio's, have their own recording studios--a current situation, or enter into some fiscal arrngement with separately owned recording studios.

But the technology for DVD-V and DVD-A are based on the same thing. It will be and is no big thing for recording in DVD-A surround. The most difficult thing is for recording engineers to acclimate themselves to mike and mix for the format.

"God awful classical ones?" You mean new suround recordings of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, etc are god awful? Or you think the composers are god awful?

Besides loving classical music in addition to rock-jazz-blues-etc., surround sound is even more effective on symphonic and choral music, as surround ambience greatly benefits the concert hall experience.
Even very important in chamber music (quartets, quintets, etc)as you can either experience the music by feeling surrounded by the instruments or by listening in the audience ( a la concert hall) -depending on the recording technique. They may even have enough room on a disc to give you both recording experiences--or we will wait until there is blue laser discs--uh oh--another can of worms.

CD's will still be usable as they are the same size as DVD's. Although a problem I forsee in the not too distant future is blue laser--and there are two formats that will fight it out. Blu-Ray by Sony, Matsushita (Panasonic), & Pioneer against Toshiba and NEC blue laser based "AOD"--Advanced Optical Device.

These hold anywhere from 20 GB to almost 30 GB, a few times more than a standard DVD. Now whether many will upgrade to these will probably be based on whether it is compatible with the discs you already own and what are the advantages.

Technology is moving so fast. I wish the companies would get on the same page quicker when the realize the better format. But greed as usual will probably prevent that.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 6
Registered: 12-2003
John,

Original Blond on Blond was in Mono, just like Pet Sounds and Sgt Pepper's. Check it out. I have original Blood on the Tracks and Nashville Skyline LP's and have compared to SACD...very close. I have also compared to original CD...not very close.

Greg,

Look at the Billboard top 100, how many classical recordings? If SACD and DVD-A rely on these recordings, the formats have no chance. The fact of the matter is it will take a massive, massive recording industry change to switch to multi-channel recording. They need to get Justin, Christina, 50 Cent, Linkin Park, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Puffy, etc to change their acts. This is where the industry growth is. Why do you think they aren't recording in multi-channel? Why are more people buying home theater systems to watch Movies and TV and not listen to music? Is the public satisfied with the current state of music layback and moving on to something else?

Lexus has a Mark Levinson system and another car has a Linn system (Bentley, I think). Will these become standard as well? Honda sees that people want DVD in their cars, not DVD-A. How you can watch a movie ans safely drive is beyond me.

The problem with SACD abd DVD-A is that companies are relying on reissues, probably because it worked for CD and DVD. The new formats are not that much better than CD to the majority of people. In fact, they have chosen a lesser format...MP3. Why do you think more people buy MP3 players than DVD-A or SACD units? Sony has the ball and they are dropping it. They could have made all of their new releases dual-layer SACD and forced the format on people. This hasn't happened.

John,

The problem with the Beatles catalog is that it still sells. Why fix something that isn't broke? They have issued some remixed albums: Yellow Submarine and Let it Be, but haven't had to mess with the original product.

Another problem with the Beatles catalog is that a lot of the the original recordings were somewhat lackluster in fidelity. They were innovative, but they had to compromise due to recording technology. Still, I see SACD in the future for the Beatles.

If you want to be safe with new formats, buy backwards compatible software. Machines will have to read red book CD for a long, long time...
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2003
John,

from www.sundazed.com

"Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde
180 Gram Gatefold Double LP

Sundazed is proud to present the first-ever reissue of the original mono mix of this landmark double album, recorded in Nashville with Al Kooper, Robbie Robertson, and a cadre of top session cats. The result, later described by Dylan as "that thin, wild mercury sound," is a unique masterwork that sounds as vital today as when first released in 1966. This Sundazed edition is presented on 180 gram vinyl, from the absolute original analog mono masters."

IS THAT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 41
Registered: 12-2003
Gregory,

I agree completely. Well said. If you know of an internet forum on chamber music... Let me say this since it is still just about on-topic. The Phillips 1970s Quartetto Italiano Beethoven cycle is a fantastic example of intelligent digital remastering, and there you are right, the CD is better than the LP - but it is cleaned up. And by people who know what they are doing. Not so with a lot of CD reissues.

Ben,

Brilliant. Thanks! That is good enough indeed. The Sundazed Blonde in Blonde is probably the one I saw in London. I heard Sad Eyed Lady on the radio the other week and it was stereo, they must have been playing the CD. I even saw a review of The Incredible String Band on LP in the latest HiFi news. I have always tried to move on (and have), but I have to admit it would be good to own some of those old things...

The Beatles still sell, but so do Dylan and the Stones, so the companies themselves must think there is a market for reissues in new formats... A surround Abbey Road etc. will come, no question. My dream would be Sony Records folds, EMI buys the catalogue, and gets George Martin to do DVD-A versions.... Sony also have the CBS classical catalogue and have deleted half of it. What happened to the once-wonderful US record industry? I am pleased you tell me Sgt Pepper was mono. The stereo CD of about ten years ago is wunnerful; George Martin again. A lot of audiophiles were anti-stereo well into the 70s. Their arguments can be applied today to surround sound: if you care about sound and don't have so much cash, do you choose a goodish stereo set-up, or a home-cinema-in-a-box?

BTW seeing car ads, I get the idea the DVD-V is for the passengers in the back. It is probably a safety feature if you have to take small children on a really long journey. Personally I'd get an Aston Martin to go with my Linn system... I wonder whose system Honda uses. Volvo has a surround system, too, I forget which. I suppose Blaupunkt will get into VW, BMW etc. BTW Linn is one wonderful company that has gone the SACD route, unfortunately. I should think they make their in-car system able to play SACD. When I get a Bentley I will report back.

Final comment, I suspend judgement on iPod pending further tests. I have discovered it has an equalizer function wiith presets, difficult to forgive, and my sure indicator of not understanding sound. I am going to try "Hip-Hop" Mahler and a Dylan talking blues on the "Spoken Word" setting. I never understand why anyone thinks for one moment that different settings are better for different sorts of music. Who thinks it would be good to hear the exact sound you would hear if you listened to a church recording played in a church? Or do you choose "R&B" to funk it up a bit?
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 76
Registered: 12-2003
Ben-

I am quite aware of DVD-Video in various SUV's and van's, etc. I meant ACTUAL DVD-A's in cars.

Here's an article:

Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s luxury brand is the first to latch hold of the 5.1-channel digital surround audio technology, a format developed for compatibility with DVD-Audio recordings.

The '04 Acura TL may be the first, but Panasonic Automotive Systems Co. of America, which developed Acura's ELS Surround sound system, says plenty more will follow -- starting with select vehicles from the '05 General Motors Corp. lineup.

Down the line, the technology will be found on Lexus (some Lexus models in Japan now have it), Nissan/Infiniti and Audi models, and more. Some vehicles will use Panasonic's ELS Surround system, while others will use units still under development at other car audio suppliers.

Officials won't confirm the ELS-GM tie-up, but the relationship seems likely: ELS Surround billboards, boasting "A concert in your car," recently began springing up around metro Detroit -- even though no car, other than the TL arriving in October, has it.

The technology, whose hook is purer sound, was said to blow away GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who, Panasonic says, became a champion of the technology and squeezed it into the lineup.

The multi-channel DVD-Audio is mated to a premium 8-speaker surround-sound system. It uses six distinct channels, compared with two on typical premium sound, to deliver resolution 500 times greater than with a CD. The system results in very distinct, more-realistic sounds emerging from each speaker. The technology virtually wipes out the background noise and hissing normally found at high volume with conventional audio.

"We spend so much time in our cars, so the car has always driven the broad acceptance of new audio formats," says Elliott Scheiner, DVD-Audio pioneer and veteran record engineer and producer. Now helping Panasonic spread the word about the new technology, Scheiner has worked with icons such as Van Morrison, REM and the Eagles, as well as popular contemporaries Beck and Faith Hill.

"Often I take a mix I'm working on and play it in my car to get a feel for what it will sound like as people are out driving," Scheiner says. "I began thinking that DVD-Audio in a vehicle would really be a way to take the control-room, studio-sound experience and let everyone enjoy it."

Cars are perfect for the format, he says, because, unlike homes, they present a defined listening space with controlled, pre-existing conditions.

The difference between DVD-Audio surround sound and a typical CD played on standard premium car audio is striking. Enhanced clarity, definition and detail have the power to transform an old, well-worn track, such as the Eagles' "Hotel California," into something that sounds fresh -- like a live performance. As Scheiner points out, all 14 guitar parts from the original recording now can be heard -- something not possible on vinyl or CD formats.

But adoption of the new system may rankle as many music lovers as its superior sound pleases. The system does nothing to improve the sound of a regular CD. And while CDs play on the system, DVD-As won't work in standard CD players.

That is, if you can find any. Thus far, few recordings have been remastered to the new format, and few new albums are being released in the DVD-A format. Panasonic officials assure this is about to change as larger labels begin to embrace the new technology. The markup, if any, on DVD-As relative to CDs remains to be seen.

Also, the system doesn't incorporate an MP3 player -- something skeptics may attribute to the tight relationship between the music industry and those forging the new technology that would shut out illegal downloads. Plus, ELS DVD-A Surround won't make radio broadcasts sound remarkably better -- only DVD-As.



 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 77
Registered: 12-2003
Ben-

"Honda sees that people want DVD in their cars, not DVD-A. How you can watch a movie ans safely drive is beyond me. "

I was quite aware that DVD-V was for kids entertainment in the back of SUV's and vans. What is dramatic is DVD-A taking over the cd listening part--and from the above article--likely to spread at least through the Camry, Accord, Passat range and higher. This is for adult entertainment--unlike DVD-V's in cars which are built-in baby sitters to keep the kids quiet.

Actually I think that as you move up the economic scale the liklehood that a person or family will have a quality HDTV with surround system goes up considerably. Now I couldn't care less if Jay-Z, Linkin Park, Fifty Cent, or the any number of disposable groups or artists will be on DVD-A or not. But it wouldn't suprise me that the very successful artists will demand their labels put them out on DVD-A's as a sign of prestige. They will want to hear themselves in their Mercedes and Lexus. What many of these people lack in talent, they more than make up the difference in vanity and self-aggrandizement.

Now whether Bob Dylan likes it or not he willo be happily collecting his royalties on his 15 newly released SACD's. I am sure the Stones, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, and many other will be happy with the royalties---some will be happy or unhappy with the quality (I mean the artists, not the consumer-although I am sure it holds true for them too).

To me it is obvious that surround in DVD-A and/or in SACD will be around. Look how many people bought DVD's of already owned VHS movies(I am guilty). The same will happen with DVD-A's on already owned cds (I am guilty) and on new releases. Groups with corporate clout like REM, U2, Clapton, etc. will always get their labels to release them on combo surround/stereo discs if they so desire.

But just the fact that DVD-A is going to be in the head unit on so many cars in a few years and people will demand software to fill them--it all means with surround in the car and the house some form of surround will succeed --and it may well be both current forms, but if it is DVD-A in cars--I bet on DVD-A.

Sony/Philips may conti9nue to crank out SACD surround, but I presume it will become the LP of the industry.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 8
Registered: 12-2003
Greg,

You are overlooking two important facts.

1. People like me listen to their car radio twice a day, to and from work. Why? For me it is Howard Stern and traffic info. I don't buy music for automobile listening sessions. Maybe if they brodcast in 5.1, surround will have a chance.

2. The majority of DVD players in use are not DVD-A players. The people that are using them only care about watching DVD's. The average person will keep that same DVD player until it dies, which can take years. Heck, I am willing to bet that more sub $50.00 DVD-only units were purchased this holiday season at Wallyworld, B-Buy, and C-City, than were DVD-A Players.

For DVD-a or SACD to survive a line must be drawn. All new DVD players must be able to decode both and all music titles must be of a hybrid format. I don't see that happening.

Don't get me wrong, I like the high rez formats, but logic tells me one or both will fail. I can see DVD-A and SACD being the Quadrophonic LP or Video Disc of this generation.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 42
Registered: 12-2003
Ben,

1. Few people buy music for their autos, agreed. But given a choice, they are more likely to buy something that keeps that option open than something that closes it.

2. "The majority of DVD players in use are not DVD-A players"

Correct. But what matters is that all DVD-A discs also play on DVD-V players. So the 90 million (plus Christmas) are not wasting their money buying a DVD-A disc; they just, mostly, don't know about them yet. But DVD-A discs are beginning to take off. I have ten. I am going to get a DVD-A player in due course. I will not be the last....

How many SACD players are there?

I have a longer post coming up with something on iPod, in-car, MP3. But first I am going to upload some god-awful classical to illustrate some points, including what garbage MP3 is, sonically. IMHO.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 78
Registered: 12-2003
Ben-

DVD-A and SACD surround is in its larval state. I would be shocked if most people even heard of them yet.

I know a heckuva of a lot of people with long commutes and that travel cross country. They listen to lots of cd's and books on tape or cd. I am one of them. I listen to cd's in my car all the time. I prefer music or NPR to Howard's teenage fantasies---and I used to listen to him over a decade ago. I guess I got older and tired of it.

I agree that one or both formats must be backward compatible. As DVD-A is basically the same format and if only one format wins--it is the odds on favorite to be the winner. The one that can play as a stereo cd, a DVD-A surround in a car, as a surround Walkman with the new Dolby surround headphones, and a DVD-A surround at home with extras such as lyrics and artwork portrayed on your tv simultaneously.

It has so many applications that I find it hard to believe it won't eventually be a hit.

Like TIVO-type devices, it often takes a few years for people to experience a neighbors device to become a convert.



With the one to three million upscale vehicles sold per year I will be suprised if half don't get this addition--maybe more.

It all depends when critical mass is hit--which I think will be inevitable.

The only thing against it is people's fear that technology is moving so fast they are antsy how long any technology will last.

 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 46
Registered: 12-2003
Lots of thought-provoking stuff here, thanks, guys. I will keep this short and on-topic.

Multichannel audio in cars.

Gregory is right, what you can play in cars could be decisive. The audio tape cassette only really became obsolete when the error-correction in small CD players became good enough for them to run in cars: new cars no longer need or have tape players as far as I know.

According to an article Top 10 Sound Systems in Cars Over $30,000 for 2004 only Acura has 5.1 audio as factory equipment in a production vehicle at present. It is DVD-A. I am sure Gregory is correct; DVD-A will quickly become de rigeur for the seriously rich or status concious. The line-up of car makers with stereo systems is interesting. Lexus/Mark Levinson; Mercedes/Bose; Range Rover/Harman Kardon (speakers at least). Volvo is playing it safe (of course) with a built-in Prologic system, no true multichannel.

Stimulated by these posts, I have done some listening and am not at all persuaded by MP3. I have written some stuff on how Mahler sounds on an iPod, and made some files in different iPod formats. MP3 is the worst. I don't think this is the thread for that. But the article above seems to say MP3 in cars is a good idea and very up-market. I don't think so. CD is miles better. For mutichannel, DVD-A will take off, I am sure.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 9
Registered: 12-2003
I never said MP3 was better, just more popular. Sometimes that is all it takes. If online downloading of songs and albums continues to grow, you had better hope they figure out how to compress DVD-A.

You may be right about cars and DVD-A, but you may be wrong. I am betting you are wrong, unless they develop a DVD-A disc that is hybrid (they may need to make the disc thinner), can be ripped, and will be stocked with regular CD's (record companies only release one disc instead of two or three)...this in no where near happening. Go to a store and count relevant DVD-A titles, ones in the Billboard 100...not too many.

You have a whole generation of people who do not own a stereo, they have a computer and a MP3 player or portable CD player. The world is changing, just not in the way you are predicting.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 47
Registered: 12-2003
Ben,

I think you, Gregory and I are pretty much in agreement. I think you are right about MP3 increasing. Most people are not so bothered about sound quality, and put more value on convenience, price, and portability. But for sound quality, MP3 is a big step back from CD, while DVD-A is a big step forward.

I just checked the US Apple Store and their top ten includes:

1. iPod
2. iTunes Gift Certificate
3. Griffin iTrip
4. inMotion Speakers
...
10. Belkin iPod Auto Charger

iTrip is an FM transmitter to let you get the signal by tuning in on your car (or other) radio. (It would have mean something quite different to Dylan, Beatles, etc...)

iPod Auto Charger allows you to use the dashboard power supply, also seems to have a pre-amp. I find the iPod output signal is very weak, comparable with phono moving magnet.

So clearly in-car MP3 is popular already. What saves the iPod for me is that you can also use other audio file formats. The .aiff sound is still not quite as good as from the same format files from a CD, but it is close. If Apple included digital out it would get round even that problem. It should be great, because up-market CD players have a lot of the price in transports and noiseless power supplies. The iPod has no transport at all, and you can't get a quieter supply than a battery.

I am not predicting how things will change, but I can clearly see a lot of potential for DVD-A, and what sells now is irrelevant. The DVD-A titles I have are all incredible for sound quality, and I only listen in DTS: I am in the transition zone and I think many of the 90 million DVD-V players will be there, soon. There are always early adopters - e.g. the "audiophile". Sometimes the mass market does follow, eventually. It was just that way with CDs. The first players, in 1982, were terrible and absurdly expensive (more than a very high-end turntable); it took maybe six years before CDs even got into regular high-street shops. People objected to CD because of the cost, inconvenience, and the limited catalogues; they thought getting a player was taking a big risk for little benefit. Then a whole army of people claimed the sound was inferior, including influential, up-market makers like Linn, who rejected the whole idea. You can see vested interests at work. So what sells now is not the point. Billboard follows, it does not lead.

BTW you may think classical generally is god-awful, but it is the classical freaks who are usually hardest to please. The first CD issues were about 50% classical titles, and the labels were all ready for it, because even the big studios had been recording digitally (sometimes in parallel with analogue) for about four years before the Cd format was agreed. That is also true now for DVD-A; big orchestral stuff has microphones all over the place and the tracks are kept separate until the final stereo mix for CD. Which is often a disaster, as G-Man points out. So a lot of classical labels already have multi-channel on file, waiting for the green light from market analysts etc., I expect.

Here's another thing from messing around with Mahler on an iPod: if they compress multichannel they should do it with AAC, not MP3 - it is miles better, and the files are smaller.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 79
Registered: 12-2003
To be honest, I really don't care what format is the most popular. I only care whether an excellent format for surround sound exists and is widely available in classical, jazz, and hopefully the best that rock has available.

But the hardware for DVD-A is very new, so it is hardly suprising that there aren't more than 1,000 releases. It took cd's a while to take over from LP's---and there are still some LP releases.

It has been a few years since TIVO has been around and they have sold only over a million. But I bet within 3-5 years over 25 million people will either have TIVO or a bunch of other similar PVR/DVR's--personal video recorders/digital video recorders that all operate on identical principles, just with differing software. Some technologies take a while to take hold.

I think DVD-A will be like that. There will be enough releases for those that want to experience the enjoymnet and there is Prologic II to mimic the experience with cd's until more people are ready to invest their money and themselves in the experience.

What sells this kind of thing is similar to what sells TIVO. Someone experiencing it. When people drive in others cars with DVD-A and listen in others houses with DVD-A the male techno-urge to have the superior will take over.

Heck, isn't that is why most people are in this forum ?

People are asking which surround receiver to get and the differences---and the biggest difference between any of these receivers is miniscule compared to the difference between MP3 quality and DVD-A or SACD. If people are that worried about squeezing a potential 1-2% performance from one receiver to another I feel confident they will want a format that is more than 25% better--maybe a lot more.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 10
Registered: 12-2003
Comparing the introduction of SACD and DVD-A to the introduction of CD is a stretch. In fact it is such a stretch a comparison shouldn't be made. It would be more accurate to compare them to DCC, DAT, and the Minidisc. All minor inprovements on existing formats. After all SACD and DVD-A are just improved version of CD.

I'm glad you like music in surround, Greg, you are in a minority. I feel that Pro Logic II sounds horrible with stereo recordings. Now I don't listen to classical, but it is a dying art with miniscule sales...nothing to push a format on. The fact of the matter they have been selling surrond in receivers for over 15 years and it still hasn't caught on.

Most likely the future is what I am typing on...my computer. MP3 and CD are good enough to satisfy most people and that won't change any time soon.

I see a whole generation of males (and females) 15-30 who are downloading music, burning some to CD for the car, loading some into portable devices, and using their hard drive for storage. When there is a party, the PC is rolled out. I see this more and more. The awe of owning a hard copy isn't there for these people, hell the packaging stinks anyways. These are the people who will be driving technologies of the future. Do you think they care about a DVD-A or SACD that won't play on their computer? This cannot be denied.

John,

First generation CD players wern't that horrible, it was the software that was the problem.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 48
Registered: 12-2003
We are still in agreement on the basics, but we have different priorities, I think. I am with Gregory. I personally don't care, either, what is popular. "Popular" means there is a market, competition, and better value; but it takes time. The minority, audiophile CD is now a commercial proposition only because of the huge number of CD players out there, and most are used to play Robbie Williams or whatever. The huge number of players got there because some people took the plunge early and pronouned it a good thing; they were willing to experiment.

Genuine surround (SACD and DVD-A) is not like the introduction of CD - I agree, there, Ben. It is bigger than that. It is like the introduction of stereo. Stereo also started as a minority with a heavy classical bias and most people said "these guys are nuts".

First generation CD players were horrible. The Philips and Sony CD100s cost 500 quid (say $800) then (say 3000 quid/$5000 today), and were replaced in two years by things a third the price with sound quality twice as good. After five years CDs became a commercial proposition. The first Cds themselves were mixed, but some were good even by today's standards.

I make one more point. Classical buyers/listeners are less conservative than rock/pop buyers/listeners. They are first into new technologies. This is because what matters for them is the music itself, not the medium. They judge more by how close things get to the sound of the original performance. They don't imagine simulated acoustic effects can enhance the Chicago Symphony or the Kronos Quartet, and they don't expect to be able to listen on buses. They want to hear it like they were there. The sharpest of sharp edges for pure audio surround, now, is that recording by The Sixteen of Thomas Tallis. It will never hit Billboard, but who cares. If you hate the music, you still have to acknowledge pursuit of perfection. Jeez, the performers even had to start their own recording company to do it the way they wanted. Sony, EMI, Deutsches Gramophon will only go the way their market researchers and directors will let them. The big operators are not driven by pursuit of sound quality, but by profit. They will not take risks. That is conservatism. Will it sell in Peoria, or Milton Keynes, is not the question.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 54
Registered: 12-2003
In praise of iPod, but not MP3 is an even longer post, with some links and an iPod test with Mahler 1.

The MP3 will download OK, but for AAC the file should be saved to disc, then opened with the player program/plugin: I think the server does not encode that file type.

Happy New Year.
 

Anonymous
 
is the Pioneer Elite DV 59AVI made in Japan
 

New member
Username: Project6

Post Number: 131
Registered: 12-2003
I've seen different units made in Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. Most of the circuit boards are Philippine made and some parts are made in Malaysia. Doesn't matter, though as long as the quality controls are there.
cheers
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 139
Registered: 12-2003
Does it matter where it is made? The Japanese products are now mostly being made in China and elsewhere in Asia. Just like the US---the labor is expensive in Japan and US and Japanese companies have erected state of the art manufacturing sites in China, Taiwan, and elsewhere. There are a couple of Taiwanese companies that specialize in making high end components that they either design or a US or Japanese company designed.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 128
Registered: 12-2003
Going back up the thread a bit, I heard a BBc Radio 3 "CD Review" slot on Saturday with the director of Nimbus records. Nimbus had a large but specialist catalogue, were first into CD in the UK (using Sony mastering in Austria), used only simple miking techniques, and also experimented a lot with "Ambisonic" recordings (which never took off, of course). They went in to liquidation in 2001, but now the core staff have bought it back, including the catalogue of ambisonic recordings, e.g. a Beethoven Symphony cycle. They intend to remaster these for DVD-A and/or SACD.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 130
Registered: 12-2003
Correction:

Nimbus Records did not use Sony - they did their own CD mastering. They made an imaginative and very early independent investment in CD technology, and, in fact, I remember they mastered for other recording companies (e.g. Saydisc and Amon Ra). I think I was mixing them up with BIS, who, sadly, seem to have gone the SACD route, like Linn - possibly for the reason I mentioned.

I would still bet heavily on DVD-A. Watch out for Nimbus DVD-A releases later in 2004. Those Hanover Band Beethoven recordings are superb, and it is great to think they are all ready to go with genuine surround sound - how many other recording companies can say that? If Nimbus do their own DVD-A mastering, I bet it will be good. If they don't, there are excellent independents doing this, e.g. KA Productions , who have done all the Naxos DVD-As so far. They are all extremely good. Let's hope, too, Nimbus keeps the DTS DVD-V option, and DD for the larger market.

Gregory Stern and I have agreed the problem with CDs was (still is) mostly miking techniques, and that surround sound will give more scope to wrong-headed engineers whose aim is not, in the end, accurate recording and reproduction of real sound. Nimbus was one of the few companies that always got that right.

I am sure DVD-A is the way the industry will go. Nimbus led the field last time, with CD. I think they are on a winner again with DVD-A.
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 18
Registered: 12-2003
I repeat what I have said before. There are not enough classical music buyers to support an entire format, or introduce it.

I have read that SACD and DVD-A were not even present at the Major MFG's booths at CES 2004 (besides Meridian). That is huge.

John,
How would you mike 2004 Mercury Prize winning artist Dizzee Rascal to make his CD more realistic?
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 19
Registered: 12-2003
OOPS!

I meant 2003 Mercury Prize winning artist Dizzee Rascal.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 131
Registered: 12-2003
Ben,

Good to hear from you again.

"There are not enough classical music buyers to support an entire format, or introduce it.". Wrong then, wrong now.

The question is "which way will the industry go?", not "where is it now?".

Nimbus is a good example of a "classical" recording company who were streets ahead of everybody during the transition to CD. They made and mastered their own CDs, and even stopped LP production (and they made brilliant LPs) at a stage when the mass market was still saying CDs would never catch on .

Where the mass market comes in is by creating a base of players to play the discs on. We have 90 million DVD-video players. People bought them to watch movies. The transition to DVD-A will be fairly easy. Not so SACD (how many players?). I doubt there ever were even 90 thousand ambisonic decoders.

Sorry, I have no knowledge of Dizzee Rascal. His CD could already be perfect for all I know.

Rock/pop recordings are generally market-driven, and have to be a commercial proposition. the buyers are often into peer-group approval, and the makers latch onto that, as you can see in advertising everywhere and radio and TV stations worldwide. Everyone in the chain is a conservative. I repeat: more real innovation comes from the classical specialists, because they have have different priorities and do not care whether they are in a minority or not.

Let me re-post Dec 29th: the Nimbus catalogue now illustrates the point.

</i>
The first CD issues were about 50% classical titles, and the labels were all ready for it, because even the big studios had been recording digitally (sometimes in parallel with analogue) for about four years before the Cd format was agreed. That is also true now for DVD-A; big orchestral stuff has microphones all over the place and the tracks are kept separate until the final stereo mix for CD. Which is often a disaster, as G-Man points out. So a lot of classical labels already have multi-channel on file, waiting for the green light from market analysts etc., I expect. </i>
 

New member
Username: Black_math

Post Number: 20
Registered: 12-2003
John,

CES points to where the industry will go. That is why 2-3 years ago the hi-rez formats were being intruduced and had a heavy presence. Not being there in 2004 should tell you that equipment manufacturers are giving up and moving to other areas...like portable audio devises with hard drives.

There are 90 million DVD players most of which do not decode DVD-A. 80 million of those players will be used until they wear out which should be 5-10 years from now.

What were the 2003 revenues for Nimbus? How many units did they sell in 2003? I am guessing 50 Cent moved more albums. Real innovation came from the guy who started Napster. He showed the world how tu get their music for free. Real innovation come from artists like Moby who figure out how to make a market for music that was deemed unmarketable.
 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 132
Registered: 12-2003
Ben,

You make good, strong points. But look, it is a transition. The 90 million DVD-V-only players will play all current DVD-A discs. So guys like me will with a DVD player for home theatre will buy a disc, discover it sounds great, then, when they find there is more to it (the real DVD-A format), will think about getting a true DVD-A player. And in 5-10 years a lot of people will have a lot of DVDs, and will want something to play them on.

As I said, Nimbus actually folded in 2001. I doubt they sold anything in 2003. That is not the point.

I really doubt CES points the way. It tries to direct the market. Ten years ago it would have been full of laserdiscs, minidiscs etc., trying to generate consumer demand. People spending there own hard-earned cash often have their own ideas. Fortunately. I also disagree on Napster. That is another issue!

In any new technology there are always conservatives who think nothing new is good, and nutcases who think that anything that is old is bad. The question we all face, all the time, is deciding what is worth paying for. "There is no future in it" is often just knee-jerk conservativism, or protection of established markets. Microsoft denounced the graphical user interface, then the internet....

A lot of recording companies lost a lot of money over some decades investing in surround sound (ambisonics, quadrophonics, etc), knowing it was intrinsically a good idea, but with no hardware except for exotic stuff few people would buy. Now there is a consumer base of players, and multiple speakers and multichannel amps. That changes everything.
 

New member
Username: Gman

Post Number: 143
Registered: 12-2003
There is plenty of niche room in CES. The amount that Bryston, Krell, Aragon, Anthem, Plinius, etc. sell compared to Pioneer, Sony, Panasonic, H/K, Onkyo is miniscule. Sony probably has more hardware sales in a day than the high end has in a year. Yet somehow there remains a significant high-end.

I see no reason that there can't be a niche in the music scene for surround SACD and/or DVD-A that is percentagewise at least as big as the high end. I am not saying it will happen tomorrow---just as most people still don't own HDTV sets--but it certainly can happen.

I think the big problem has been a premature release of mostly poor product.

If I was working for Sony I would try using a couple of my biggest artists and release the cd and the surround SACD--with the surround SACD having 2 extra songs that are ambitious and utilize surround smartly.

I am not saying it will take off--as the music industry is running scared on a lot of levels and seems to lack vision.

I know tons of people that replace their VHS movies with DVD's. The Music Industry needs to answer the question--"What can we give our customers that sounds far better than downloads and has other attributes they will want to pay for and own---just like a DVD movie?"

They answer that question and market a great product well--they will succeed. They don't, the music industry might disappear totally---it might end up as variou artists bonding together at various sites just for downloads. Uggh.


 

New member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 137
Registered: 12-2003
Gregory,

Agreed. But premature release is only half of it. Sometimes the product is junk, always will be, and fails to live up to the hype. Consumers vote with their purchasing power.

CD was niche stuff in 1982. VCR was niche in 1979. Stereo was niche stuff in 1960. Powered flight was niche stuff in 1903.

The enemies of progress are large corporations who want to control markets to make the largest returns on their existing investments. Progress comes from niches, people willing to try for themselves something new and untested.

CES and Billboard never innovated anything. Neither did Microsoft. Sony did once, when it was small.

Today, home theatre is still a niche, but it is easy to see it is getting bigger every day. DVD-A is an opportunity that will follow. Unless the industry kills it with protectionism (e.g. analogue-only interconnects) and rival, competing formats to confuse and mislead the potential purchaser.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 334
Registered: Dec-03
Naxos, a huge and independent multi-national, at least by classical recording standards, has just announced release of budget SACDs, too. Its DVD-A catalogue is larger, and the SACDs seem to be re-mixes. But if Naxos sees a future for SACD, that is something.

Their latest DVD-A is a classic example of the stupid things sound mixers used to do with stereo multi-miking, only worse. It is a fantastic performance of a fantastic piece of music (Vaughan Williams, A Sea Symphony), but the two soloists (baritone and soprano - they are terrific BTW) are given the whole centre channel in 5.1. They therefore sound as if they are about 30 feet tall, or else using hand-held microphones: both seriously disturbing images. Also various surreal cellos, blown up like The Incredible Hulk, move in to the centre stage at various times, as if on rails. You wonder if the cellist has some special relationship with the recording engineer. Why Naxos did not stick with K&A Productions for the recording and mixing I do not know. Their earlier DVD-As, done by K&A, have excellent balance, using the the centre channel sparingly, if at all.

SACD has the advantage of NOT having a centre channel.

If you are still reading, Gregory, I do recommend that latest Naxos disc. I think we agreed that multichannel is going to give hopeless recording engineers a whole slew of old mistakes to make. It is still a tremendous disc. This is getting off topic.

It looks as if SACD and DVD-A are both growing. But, since multichannel is the really new thing, the question is whether people are going to buy DVD-A dics that are hybrids with DVD-A, or SACD discs that are hybrids with CD. In the latter case, they won't get surround sound if they have a CD-only player. In the former case, they will get surround sound if they have a DVD player, and all DVD players are also CD players. I wonder how many potential purchasers even know that.
 

Silver Member
Username: John_a

Post Number: 335
Registered: Dec-03
In last paragraph I meant to write "whether people are going to buy DVD-A dics that are hybrids with DVD-V..." Sorry, folks. This thing is confusing enough already.
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