What was wrong with 24/96 PCM on DVD-Video discs? Surely that was good enough for the mass-market?
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Aroc, you make a valid point -- 24/96 PCM is really good enough (more than good enough) for the typical mass-market consumer and even from an audiophile perspective. For that matter, DVD concerts in Dolby or DTS 5.1 are quite good also, so what is the big attraction of DVD-A?
As I've said before in this forum, my biggest wish is for the music industry to get off its collective butt and adopt one of these new higher resolution formats that are available to them. There's no reason to continue with the 44.1kHz/16-bit dinosaur any longer. At this point it's an insult to the consumer's intelligence.
How would those of you in this forum that own a DVD-A player rate DVD-A performance compared to DD or DTS 5.1??? I realize that at present DVD-A is an immature format, but from the software titles currently available, what are your candid impressions?
Plato: As you know, I have both SACD and DVD-Video set-ups in my home system, and while I love SACD, based on my listening with the Classic and Chesky DADs and SACDs, I could be happy with either of those formats over CD. What I do not like about DVD-A is that due to the copycode concerns the software won't let you pass a true 24/96 digital signal from the player's digital output (like you can with DVD-V), so you can't use a high-quality 24/96 DAC. Hence, you're stuck with the cost-compromised transport, dac and analog stage of that $229 player from the WIZ (by the way, love the title of the thread!), and I don't think that's going to give anyone a true taste of the medium's potential, and certainly won't entice me to back the medium if I'm going to be stuck with a mediocre low-fi player. And a high quality universal transport won't help here either, for the same reasons. At least Sony put out some very good initial players to whet the high-end crowd's appetite for SACD, and now they've got a good deal of less expensive players out there to go for the mass market. And if you think there are not enough SACD titles out there, the number of SACD titles dwarfs the DVD-A titles. So I'm not so sure that DVD-A is going to overtake SACD, even though my understanding is that the recording engineers have backed the pcm format over DSD; however, I'm still not sure either format is going to catch on ultimately in a market that cares more about convenience and sees very little improvement, if any, over redbook CD. Perhaps enough of a market can develop from the multichannel aspects of the new formats, but I'm skeptical. Mind you, though, if enough good, high quality labels make SACDs or DVD-As that will pass a 24/96 digital signal, I won't mind these formats being restricted to niche markets...
Thanks for your thoughts. I think it's interesting, if true, that the recording engineers are backing the PCM format, in effect choosing "none of the above." This still appears to be far from a done deal.
Sony has a strong selection of SACD titles remastered mainly from their 2-channel classical archives, as I understand it. So the real race will be to see which format(s) will be used for current and new music releases (and new multichannel recordings). I think that whichever format dominates the new release market will ultimately win the war. Yes, Sony has come way down on the prices of its SACD players, but even $400 is too high a price for real mass-market proliferation, in my view. Plus, there is no SACD player that presently sports a digital output. Personally, to have to use 3 pairs of analog interconnects to implement DVD-A and/or SACD, is really idiotic -- especially to high-enders who pay quite a bit for high-quality interconnects. Hooking up 3 pairs of the average "Phat-boy" interconnects to my surround receiver to accommodate a single source component is not an experience I will enjoy. So at present, my audio and video systems are still separate entities, with Dolby and DTS 5.1 being the sources of choice for my video applications, and my trusty analog TT and digital upsampling gear reserved for audio-only.
At this time of crisis in the USA, there ought to be a little more unity and agreement among the various formats. If folks knew which way to turn I'd bet there would be a lot more buying going on, and a lot less fence sitting. You know, the other day I broke out my old reel to reel tape deck and started playing through some of my old recordings and it was great fun. I also attended a record show recently, and bought a lot of great vinyl LPs for shamefully low prices. I can certainly find ways to amuse myself for as long as it takes the powers-that-be to sort this thing out. Who knows, by the time they finally reach a decision I may lose interest. Take care, my friend. :)
Plato, having heard your two-channel rig (particularly the vinyl playback), I don't see why you'd spend any time listening to the HT setup! I will note that there is quite a bit of new classical and jazz coming out on SACD these days (and not just from specialty labels--Sony has new Midori and Joshua Bell releases on SACD, for example), and a number of new pop releases as well are appearing. Add to that Virgin's and Universal's support of SACD and plans to make SACD releases and there may be some hope for SACD. Now if only Sony would wise up and release hybrid discs for all its new releases, they may yet get the public interested in the format. I do think that the "hook" they need for this format (and DVD-A as well) is the multi-channel aspect of the discs, much as I don't care about that. That's the one thing that the mass market might see as a big improvement over CD, and could be the key to acceptance in the marketplace. Just my two cents, of course.
No kidding A/V and music are separate. I don't even _own_ a TV set. :-) I haven't heard DVD-A yet, myself. But I have fielded questions among my non-audiophile friends as to why we need DVD-A when they thought Metallica's S&M on DVD-Video sounded so good (better than CD). And from a simple "Joe Sixpack" perspective, I was stumpted for an answer.
But I have heard SACD at a dealer demo (shout out to "AudioCraft" in Mayfield Hts, OH) and I liked what I heard. From a marketing perspective, DVD-A seems like the natural successor. To the public, DVD=the new digital thing with surround sound, so the public will under stand where DVD-A is coming from. (they'll see it as the marriage of DVD-V and the compact disc). But if you assume that AV and music will be separate, then SACD makes more sense to me.
First, to answer Natalie's question, no, I wasn't in Toronto, I attended the record show in Edison, NJ at the Raritan Center last Sunday. Some vendors were really overpricing their offerings, but others had a nice selection of classical and popular music, many for $1 per album. I actually picked up 4 or 5 classical boxed sets for $1 per set, on London, RCA (Red Seal), and Columbia -- all in very nice condition. :)
Rcp, as yet my HT system pales in comparison to my 2-channel systems. Yet, considering that I only have about 1/25th of the money invested in HT that I do in 2-channel gear, I am quite pleased and intrigued at the level of performance my HT provides. I can't help being a little curious about how it would sound if I added better quality speakers, amps, and maybe some tubes in the signal path. In spite of the digital processing going on I get very clean and detailed reproduction with amazing dynamic range, no doubt due to the higher resolution that DVDs provide. If more high-quality software becomes available it will be interesting to see the potential that the multi-channel approach offers. Here and now, it's a real kick for watching movies. That much is undeniable.
I think you are right that there should be more hybrid discs released on SACD and that this could ease the transition to that format for the masses. The only catch is that the dual-layer hybrids cost more to produce than the SACD-only discs and would drive up costs to the consumer -- which would deter sales. So that may be a double-edged sword. Basically, if the prices of the players come down just a bit more (I'm sure they will) and the list of available titles starts to blossom, then SACD could succeed.
By the same token, it has been proven time and again, that the mass market cares more about low prices than it does about the quality of reproduction. So, the appearance of $200 DVD-A players could spark buying if software titles become more abundant. Unfortunately, I think that in the long run, whatever format offers the lower-priced software will dominate the mass market. My guess is that the competing camps know this and will make every effort to keep the prices of their available software very similar. In the future we will probably see universal players that will play discs of all formats, with the various formats coexisting, each having its respective share of the marketplace. I don't know if that's good or bad, but it appears to be the way that we're headed.