CD Redbook versus DVD Audio

Being an 'insider' in the industry keeps one busy enough not to read some of the(even though basic) information, which one should read.
Recently a friend brought over the Chris Botti album, recorded on both sides--one CD the other DVD Audio.
Well, after extolling the virtues of CD Redbook, in recent years, with the newer players, I would have to admit freely that (even though I own the Exemplar DVD which plays, I think, all platforms available including DVD Audio) I had never 'gone over to the dark side.'
Good Lord, this is better in virtually every way possible.
What struck me (about this limited experience)was the way that the staging improved,with blackness within the soundstage, taking it to an almost holgraphic experience--- with BASS just rolling, very naturally, out of the speakers like never before!!
This bordered, to me, on the same level of experience that I had when I first discovered Tubes,(not the Bass, but Staging part) at the dawn of civilization. Really, it was that kind of 'new found experince' and yes,was that good.
The bass took on an almost surreal quality, with tonality I had not experienced, except with the great tonearms, and Koetsu cartridgess, from waaaay back in the days of those round black things....the one's that have ticks and pops but sound great if done correctly.
This is as close as I have been to that kind of, and level of, both musical experience and what I perceive to be, accuracy of sound.
Anybody else out there with similar kind of experience with DVD Audio? I know, given the breadth of 'terrible recordings' that some must sound horrible, as usual, but when done close to right, wow.
If more are good than bad, and assuming that when done correctly that it excels, which it may not, given this caveat--why is this platform not more popular?. I know the arguments about too many choices, and too few audiophiles, but this is 'remarkably better' in my limited, and more important, IMHO.
Thanks for the heads up, Larry. I'll have to give it a listen. Which Botti album is it specifically?
I've owned a Panasonic DVD S47 for about 6-7 months now and just recently bought a Jack Bruce DVDA recording done at 24/96. The S47 sounds pretty decent on redbook (I've damped the chassis pretty extensively, upgraded the power cord and run it through a pretty good line conditioner, which, in my opinion really notches the performance of these cheaper DVD players to another level), but I, too, was shocked at how much better DVD audio sounds. What really struck me about it was an almost analog-like sense of ease that seems to be sorely missing from redbook. It is beyond me why 24/96 or beyond is not in use on anything that is being recorded these days, and my feeling is that you don't really need megabuck digital front ends to get very high quality sound if it's recorded well at the higher sampling rate(s) that DVD audio allows. It's simply ridiculous that the clearly affordable technology of this software medium is not made more readily available to the consumer.
Check out the Grateful Dead's American Baeuty on DVD-A. It's almost like hearing it for the first time.
Competing format's and unnecesary complexity (for the averge consumer) is what has killed (or put it on life support) the format. A shame.
Chris Botti has a DVD video called "Night Sessions" which is also a very good recording for sound and picture. It was recorded in a small club setting. It's a reference disc for me.
I'm a believer.
It really shouldn't surprise anyone that DVDA, with 24 bit 96KHz sampling, outperforms the marginal 16 bit 41KHz CD, although DVDA, like any media, is at the mercy of the recording engineers. I have found DVDA and SACD to be equally capable of sonic excellence, but the DVDA protocol is far more flexible than SACD and offers many "extra" features that SACD can't match. As I have mentioned before, try a DVDA from the AIX label to see what can be done.

It's a shame that audiophiles were taken in by Sony hype about DSD, and felt obligated to criticise DVDA without really listening. SACD is OK, but DVDA offers so much more.
It probably is superior to Redbook CDs in every way except the most important. There is almost no music to play on the machine.

There eventually will be a digital format that will replace Redbook CDs. But, when it happens it will be for the same reasons that CDs replaced vinyl. That means superior sound barely matters, if at all. It has to be more convenient than CDs (like cds are for vinyl), it has to be cheaper than CDs (like cds are for vinyl), it has to be more portable than CDs (like cds are to vinyl), it has to have a large and varied library of music to draw from (like cds did quickly after their introduction), it can't be tailored for the audiophile (just like cds weren't) because we are just a small niche market in the music world. And, it has to do something that CDs don't do, like cd players are able to skip tracks which turntables can't. That probably will mean video.

Hmmm, sounds like i-pod or some variation like it. I would be willing to bet any amount of money that whatever replaces cds will not be a silver disc. Your grandchildren will make as much fun of cds as mine do records. I know that audiophiles love to fight over which format and piece of equipment has the better more natural sound but, for 99.999999% of the music buying public it is all about convienence, portability, and expense.
It's funny, but when we 'progressed' from vinyl to cd's what we didn't discuss was the fact that we were essentially moving one step away--which is to say that we eliminated the stylus, replaced by the laser. To many people that was not significant enough, since we introduced many errors, not the least of which was clock speed, as well as the potetial for vibration and on and on.
It seems to me that a better move would have been to eliminate the mechanical altogether, in favor of a time domain release of digital information, which does not rely on a variable speed mechanical device.
The information, if sent as a digital stream, with clocking as part of that data, could potentially eliminate one 'damaging' aspect of the medium. Until then we will have known limitations.
As to the Botti Album TVAD, Sting is Featured, as well as Michael Buble, Patricia Barber (I think). I am not near the disc at this moment, or I would give the title.
As to Agaffer's response, I agree, that this 'next step away won't be a silver disc, but I think, is something as described above- non mechanical. He's right, that the only way we have success is with more software than is available than on any other medium, but it's chicken and egg. It seems obvious that it costs more to make double sided DVDA since they are in such short supply and many labels have and will continue to reject this medium and that can kill the platform quickly. This disc was on the discount shelf already! Many consumers are looking for music with little concern for the excellence that this medium brings.
It will be a shame if we don't see more though-it is marvelous.

It's a shame that audiophiles were taken in by Sony hype about DSD, and felt obligated to criticise DVDA without really listening. SACD is OK, but DVDA offers so much more.

I don't think that's quite what happened. What happened, IMO, is that that the home theater/video-oriented nature of DVD-Audio, lack of standardized labelling, wildly varying features (or lack thereof), and dearth of quality material, made DVD-Audio difficult for nearly everyone to adopt. From a useability and consistency standpoint, it's probably the worst music format ever invented next to the DualDisc (which carried forward all of the flaws of DVD-Audio and added several of its own).

SACD, by comparison, is much more straightforward. The main reason CD became popular was due to convenience and ease of use. SACD was essentially a continuation of that paradigm. DVD-Audio was a major step backward in convenience and ease of use, and it has paid the price for its designers' short-sightedness.
I have a few DVDA discs and some sound great but some sound much worse than their CD counterparts.
TVAD, and anyone else interested--unless someone else already gave this:
The Chris Botti Album--
"To Love Again"
Featuring: Sting, Paula Cole, Michael Buble, Jill Scott, Paul Buchanan, Gladys Knight, Renee Olstead, Rosa Passos and Steven Tyler--yes him.
Listening again this morning, I was not delusional about the quality of this format, this is the best I have heard through my system, and an absolutely delightful album, if not to everyone's taste.
Thanks Larry, I ordered it last night. I'm looking forward to hearing it as I've never given DVD-A much thought.
Some players don't support this, so again another thought on this platform. Not everyone can even order this--uh, well they can order, but not play.... TVAD let me know what YOU think of it, beyond the recording, and into the 'sound' of DVDA. Addressing RWWEAR, again, as I mentioned above, lesser engineers can make recordings that NOTHING can save--but this medium has the most promise I have heard for a step forward.
An addendum...Larry posted too quickly for me to edit my previous post...

Reading that Paula Cole sings on the Chris Botti album sealed the deal for me. She sang with Peter Gabriel on his "Secret World Live" tour, and she is one of the highlights of that DVD. Also, in case you didn't know, Chris Botti toured with Sting once or twice in recent years in a spotlight role, which explains the connection on Botti's new album.
From the 'look' that Botti has adopted, he and Sting use the same people for all facets of personal fulfillment.
Dress, hair, (dare I say makeup)etc.
Also, and I forget his name, the Guitarist is a solo artist in his own right, with credits of his own.
I think Sting, as do many successful performers, mentors up and comming artists, to his credit.
Rex...I really don't see what your problem is with DVDA. I just put them in and push the PLAY different from a SACD or a CD.

However, IF you are interested you CAN select the MENU and then other features. For example, the DVDA of Emmylou Harris, "Producer's Cut" has a very interesting interview (audio and video) with Brian Ahern explaining, in good technical detail, how and why the multichannel mix was accomplished. For people whose DVD players don't do DVDA, there is Dolby Digital and DTS multichannel programs, and a stereo option for those who are only two channel. There is a photo gallery, and the text of the Lyrics. Oh, and lest I forget, the audio quality is first rate. A disc like this, and there are many, makes SACD look primitive.
I agree Eldartford; insert, press play, listen. I don't see how it can get any less complicated or easy to use.
I submitted a clarification of my earlier remarks, but it doesn't appear to have made it past the moderation gauntlet. I am at a loss to understand why. Perhaps this one will make it through.

Anyway - I certainly agree that if you put a DVD-Audio disc in the player and push "play," you'll get sound. The problem is, it may not be the content you want. Depending on the disc and your setup, the tracks that play by default aren't necessarily the ones you'll want to listen to. The issue is not so important for multichannel listeners, but most people (especially in the audiophile community) are not multichannel listeners, they are 2ch listeners. DVD-Audio is, for the most part, optimized for multichannel, and can require 2ch users to jump through an amazing amount of hoops to get something other than a digital downmix.

It's a bit easier if you have a TV hooked up to your audio system, but again, many 2ch users in the audiophile community do not have and do not want TVs in their 2ch systems. DVD-Audio is currently the only "music" format that almost mandates the use of a television.

Then we have the discs themselves, which are authored in a seemingly random fashion. Some discs have multichannel only, some have stereo only, some have stereo and multichannel, some have multichannel only but advertise stereo, some have MLP multichannel but LPCM stereo. Sampling rates and bit depth are all over the map, from 24/192k all the way down to 16/44.1k, and everything in between. Some discs with 2ch content are authored such that 2ch content is in Group 1, some are authored such that 2ch is in Group 2, some are authored such that 2ch is in Group 1 but must be selected with the Audio button, some are authored such that 2ch content is in the DVD-V section, and the player must be reconfigured to access it, and on and on and on....

I have gotten around the problem with my 50+ DVD-Audio discs by developing a "cheat sheet" to indicate which buttons to press to get the program I want on each disc, but it's a real pain to have to develop this (and requires a player and TV setup to do it). Plus, one of the many problems with DVD-Audio is poor labelling. I have purchased a number of DVD-Audios that claimed to have 2ch tracks, and turned out not to have them at all. The only choice for a 2ch user is to listen to a suboptimal downmix.

If the bulk of serious music listener were truly ready for multichannel and video-oriented audio, and if DVD-Audio's creators had more tightly adhered to a set of user interface standards, then DVD-Audio might have been more of a success.

By comparison, SACD does not have any of these problems. If you are a 2ch-only user, put the disc in and press play, and you'll get dedicated 2ch tracks. If you are a multichannel user and have a multichannel disc, put the disc in and press play, and you'll get dedicated multichannel tracks. No TV needed, no "cheat sheets" required, a user interface as simple and intuitive as Redbook CD, and (for the most part) consistency of disc authoring across the entire range of offerings.

Just from that standpoint alone, it's easy to see why SACD was more of a success in the audiophile community than was DVD-Audio.
Rex...I understand your point of view, but..

1. Although not necessary to just play a DVDA, a video screen is necessary to access other features, and at least temporarily for setup. No big deal though. I went out and bought a 13" TV for less than $80, and it is part of my equipment rack, just used for setup. I have no big screen in my audio system. I listen to music.

2. What's wrong with a downmix from multichannel? How do you think that all stereo (and 5.1) programs are produced from multitrack (24 channel) masters.
Well said, Rex. When I had a Denon 2900 it was NOT as simple as putting a disc in and hitting "play" to get to the 2 channel audio selection. I have rid myself of all my DVD-A's and all my non-hybrid SACD's and have sought to maximize my redbook playback. I did think that both SACD and DVD-A offerred, with some inconsistency, better sound but in end tired of the lack of selection and the need for specialized equipment that compromised the majoirty of my collection, which is redbook. I now do not even have a CDP and have moved to a hard-drive based music server. I am now listening to more music than I ever have before.
1. Although not necessary to just play a DVDA, a video screen is necessary to access other features, and at least temporarily for setup. No big deal though. I went out and bought a 13" TV for less than $80, and it is part of my equipment rack, just used for setup. I have no big screen in my audio system. I listen to music.

I am happy for you that you found a solution you can live with. I hope you can agree that the solution you found may not be appropriate for everyone. The fact that nearly all players on the market require a TV for one or more aspects of DVD-Audio playback is not an advantage or a plus for the format.

2. What's wrong with a downmix from multichannel? How do you think that all stereo (and 5.1) programs are produced from multitrack (24 channel) masters.

They are not even remotely the same thing. Creating stereo and/or multichannel tracks is an endeavor intended to create an original work of art. A downmix is an electronic process performed on those tracks by the player. It is a modification of the original data stream.

Some people think downmixes sound just fine. I have done A-B comparisons and found that downmixes are inferior to dedicated 2ch tracks.
Rex...You exaggerate to say that real time downmix is "not even remotely" similar to a priori mixdown. It might be identical, depending on how the engineer felt that day. But this is a subjective thing, and I respect your opinion.

But the need for a video screen really isn't a strong argument. It's an investment of less than $100, which ought not to be an issue for folk who spend thousands on wires.
But the need for a video screen really isn't a strong argument. It's an investment of less than $100, which ought not to be an issue for folk who spend thousands on wires.

I believe this is indeed a strong and valid argument. From my perspective, the cost of the video monitor is not the issue. In my opinion, the issue is connecting a video screen and navigating through a set-up menu in order to enjoy 2 channel DVD-A audio, when it should simply be a matter of inserting a disc and pressing play with one possible added step of pressing a button on the remote control or on the machine's front panel to clearly cycle through options on the player's front display. I understand that the vast majority of DVD players are installed in Home Theater systems which have TV's, but on-screen menu navigation is an inelegant solution that will discourage use of the format to all but the most die-hard fans.
Tvad...If it's too much trouble for you, then it's too much trouble for you. For problem. Compared with the ritual that playing vinyl requires, it's nothing.
Just tonight I went back and listened to the Chris Botti, and then to several other regular discs that I have enjoyed many times in the past--and franky felt were mong the top quality recordings I own. I realized that the DVD was better in every way, and offered all the advantages listed in the orignial post, but it was even more so than I had originally stated!!
Sometimes I can overstate differences that I hear. (An admission that all audiophiles should consider making.) Frankly, on the second, and even more lengthy comparison, I was surprised at how completely 'flat'the cds (that I had previously revered) sounded. The dynamic contrasting was almost completely 'squashed' sounding. The staging collapsed forward and lacked the holographic sense that I had noticed on the Botti recording. It really was strange to her them after this eye opening, rather ear opening session. (In the back of my mind I am thinking that this is going to cost me another fortune to replace my discs for the umpteenth time; I mean really, how many times am I going to replace the same music? Thank God I didn't fall for El Cassette or 8 Track!!!)
This immediately got me to the internet to look for as many titles as I could find, and I found a web site which has tons of DVDAs listed. If you guys like I will post their name so you can take a look at their offerings.
My only issue with this particular site is, even though I had narrowed my 'search' to DVD Audio, they show others (meaning non DVDA,s) in that same location, so I had to go back and forth several times and eliminate some regular cds from my cart.
Let me know if you'd like the name of this site--its good with that one caveat, and offers a wide variety of music, for virtually all tastes.
Tvad...If it's too much trouble for you, then it's
too much trouble for you. For problem. Compared with the ritual
that playing vinyl requires, it's nothing.

Amen, Eldartford.

By the way, Lrsky, I'll have to trust what you say regarding the
superiority of the DVD-A side to the CD side of Chris Botti's "When I Fall
in Love", because my Denon 3910 will not read the CD side of the
I had a similar experience when comparing the redbook cd version of Alan Parson's "I Robot" to the 24/96 DVD version issued by the Classic Records label a few years back.

This disc is not a true DVD-A, but the "tweener" 24/96 stereo format that will play on any standard DVD video player. I vote it as the most "underappreciated digital format/most short-lived" award. It was just getting off the ground when the big buzz surrounding the DVD-A multichannel disc format was heating up in 2000 and killed it off.

The Classic Records disc has a much more pleasant overall sound compared to the CD. The opening track is holographic sounding and you can easily hear the individual voices which make up the choir section as they harmonize. There are also some synthesizer and triangle or bell strikes that just hang in the air like they are real. It sounds awesome.

The kicker is that my cd player is no slouch. I have an Arcam FMJ cd-23 with the Ring-Dac, but my old Sony DVD carousel player from 1998 can handle 24/96 stereo without downconverting and output it via it's analog outputs. And I'll be damned but that 24/96 disc sounds better on the Sony vs. the redbook cd played on my Arcam!

I never understood why that format all but disappeared. In stereo, at least, I think you'd be hard pressed to really hear a huge improvement in sound going upmarket to SACD or DVD-A...and you don't even have to buy a new DVD player! JZ
I have the I Robot release also and it sounds great. These discs are still being produced as some artists such as Neil Young prefer them to DVDA. IMO opinion the 24/96 side sounds better then the 24/192 side. Yours must have a redbook CD side as mine does not. The other side of mine is DVDA.
I also have been surprised by how good some 24/96 recordings sound. I have several AIX discs that include, in addition to the DVDA program, Dolby and DTS programs that give you a choice of "Audience" or "Stage" multichannel sonic perspectives. Sometimes I want the "Stage" mix, and I don't seem to lose much in audio quality over the DVDA program (which is "Audience" only).

I think that the reason is that the skill and care of the recording and mixing people is the most important factor. 24/96 data makes it a bit easier. But even a CD, where the 16/44 data is really marginal, can sound very good when the production is done well.