DVD Audio: An Introduction

DVD Audio is a music format that is designed to offer improved audio performance over CD. The new audio format can be used to provide listeners with Advanced Resolution stereo and/or multi-channel (up to a maximum of six channels) music. In order to play back DVD Audio discs, players have to be specially designed to support the format. So far, consumer electronics manufacturers have announced a range of DVD Audio players, including home decks, portable players and devices for cars.

DVD Audio has a sampling rate of up to 192kHz compared to a maximum of 44.1kHz for CD. It also supports resolutions of up to 24 bits, compared to 16bits on CD.

The idea behind DVD Audio is that it allows producers to give listeners a playback experience that is much more faithful to the original master recording that has been possible previously.

DVD Audio discs have a much higher capacity than CDs. This extra space can be used to provide audio at the highest possible quality or for longer recordings, or to provide additional material, such as information on the artist, photos and even video, all of which can be displayed on a television screen. Alternatively, DVD Audio discs currently on the market from the likes of the Warner group of labels have the audio content in both DVD Audio format and as Dolby Digital surround so that they can be played back on regular DVD players.

DVD Audio discs are navigable in the same way as DVD Video when played back on a player connected to a TV set. Users can select the required track from an on- screen menu and with an internet connection, can click on links to go to websites.

These dual format discs are a good way to kick-start the market while DVD Audio players are still relatively rare. The market will also be helped by combined DVD Video and Audio players.

Robert Armstrong is a contributor to The HDTV Tuner - a guide to the kit, the content and the issues related to HDTV.

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