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Old 6th December 2002, 07:05 AM   #1
postman is offline postman  Australia
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Default Dvd Audio

This might sound real "newbie" but can dvd audio discs be played in any dvd player or do you need to get a special player for them ?
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Old 6th December 2002, 07:41 AM   #2
hifiZen is offline hifiZen  Canada
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Default dvd audio...

Well, this is a tricky one. First, you have to figure out just what kind of DVD disc you're looking at...

"DVD Audio" is supposed to refer only to discs containing either 2-channel or multi-channel 24-bit 96kHz or 192kHz material, compressed using MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) lossless compression. These discs require a DVD-Audio player which supports MLP decode (usually there's the MLP logo on the player). The discs themselves are usually labelled "Advanced Resolution", not with the MLP marking. There are, however, some discs which contain the same material, but without the MLP compression - the material is in straight PCM format on the disc. These can usually be played in any DVD player.

But, there are several disc types which are often mistakenly called DVD-Audio, or are packaged to look like the real goods, but aren't. These can be music videos (DVD-Video like any movie), sold in the audio section of the store. Or, they may be CDs containing DTS compressed audio, and sold in jewel cases that are the same size and shape as the ones created for DVD-Audio. Also, many discs have multiple formats on them, and you may discover some other format available on the disc after you start to play it.

Here's a rundown of the DVD audio formats, and what's required to do playback:

Dolby Digital (DD): most common compressed audio format, it's used in most DVD movies. Highly compressed, poorest sound quality. Plays on basically every DVD player on the planet.

DTS: a step up from DD, DTS is also compressed, using a different algorithm, and usually at a higher bit rate than DD. Sounds better, but requires a DTS decoder. Don't be fooled by DVD players bearing the DTS "digital out" logo. These players don't actually have a DTS decoder, so can only pass the data to a DTS-decoder equipped receiver. Without the decoder, you'll only be listening to the DD track. Players bearing the DTS "Digital Surround" logo have the deocder integrated, and should have multi-channel analogue outputs on the back panel. DTS has released quite a few music albums in the DTS format, often with no accompanying stills or video, and in a multi-channel format. Touted as a higher fidelity standard than CD audio, but there's no guarantee due to the compression and possible variance in bit rate from disc to disc.

PCM: should play on all DVD players, if the DAC will support the full sample rate (if not, the player should downsample). There is no set standard for word size and sample rate, but the high-end recordings will be either 24/96 or 24/192. Check carefully what you're getting. This is potentially the best hi-fi format, due to it's wide compatibility.

Advanced Resolution: The real goods... 24/96 or 24/192 PCM audio, MLP encoded. Requires a DVD-Audio player, so look for the MLP logo.

SACD: I guess this doesn't really apply to DVD, since it is a separate standard, but it's essentially based on DVD technology. Requires an SACD player... look for the logo. As good as 24/96? Better? Worse? The debate rages on...
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Old 7th December 2002, 02:26 PM   #3
OliverD is offline OliverD  Germany
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Default Re: dvd audio...

Quote:
Originally posted by hifiZen
PCM: should play on all DVD players, if the DAC will support the full sample rate (if not, the player should downsample). There is no set standard for word size and sample rate, but the high-end recordings will be either 24/96 or 24/192. Check carefully what you're getting. This is potentially the best hi-fi format, due to it's wide compatibility.
I'm not sure, but I don't think there are DVDs with 24/192 that will play on a cheap "non-DVD-Audio" player. As far as I know this format is available on the "real" DVD-Audio only.

Also, DVD-Audio players, when playing a "real" high resolution DVD-Audio, will only output 16/48 on their S/PDIF interface (to prevent high resolution digital copies), so if you are using an external DAC, it's probably the best idea to buy discs recorded in PCM 24/96, the highest resolution that is output via S/PDIF.
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Old 8th December 2002, 08:10 AM   #4
hifiZen is offline hifiZen  Canada
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Yes, you may be right. I'm not sure 192kHz LPCM is defined as a required format for standard DVD players, though 24/96 LPCM definitely is. Some cheapo players may support it anyway, since there is no decoding at all required for PCM material.

24/192 LPCM discs certainly exist, though they are rare... I've yet to encounter one, and we have a very complete library of test material at work (there must be one in there somewhere and I've just never used it). Even 24/96 LPCM discs are quite rare - you generally need to look for the esoteric labels such as Chesky Records to find them. As far as the digital output goes, you're pretty much correct there too. The vast majority of players downmix surround to two channels, and output 24/48 LPCM on the digital output when PCM mode is selected. Otherwise, the SPDIF stream is usually DD or DTS compressed data. There are a few mass-market players in existence which can spit out 24/96 from the SPDIF output, but not many, and I can't even remember the models off the top of my head.
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Old 8th December 2002, 08:16 AM   #5
hifiZen is offline hifiZen  Canada
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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention MPEG audio, which is also a standard audio format found on DVD-Video discs, mostly in Europe. It is much like Dolby Digital, in that it is a default sound format when video content is present. The default audio formats for DVD-Video are DD, MPEG and PCM. One or more of these formats must accompany any video material on a DVD, and these formats are often used as "backup" for DVD-Audio discs, so that they will still function in a non-DVD-Audio player, even though you won't hear the high resolution audio track.
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Old 9th December 2002, 07:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: dvd audio...

[


Advanced Resolution: The real goods... 24/96 or 24/192 PCM audio, MLP encoded. Requires a DVD-Audio player, so look for the MLP logo.

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Not quite so. So called advanced resolution is often not defined on the discs and can be 48/16 or 48/24, say on Naxos discs. This is why I will only buy 192/24 DVDAs or 96/24 DVDVs. The latter is compatible with DVDV players . Wtach out for those which don't output 96/24.

A mine trap and shame on the DVDA forum.
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Old 9th December 2002, 08:28 AM   #7
hifiZen is offline hifiZen  Canada
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Quote:
A mine trap and shame on the DVDA forum.
Absolutely agreed. If there's a reason for the high resolution audio formats to fail, it's the bewildering array of formats, and abysmal labelling standards. How can consumers possibly sort it all out, if someone who works with DVD technology daily (like myself) can barely keep tabs on all the variations? The mass market will never buy into technology which isn't straightforward and easy to understand. The whole situation is absurd, and rather depressing, frankly.

At least there is one high-rez format which seems to have it's act together, and that's SACD. For me, it's just a shame that the format isn't digital manipulation friendly...
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