DVD Forum Finalizes the DVD-Audio Format

DVD Forum Finalizes the DVD-Audio Format
Chuck Bruce of The Atlanta Audio Society
May 1999

TOKYO, February 9, 1999: The DVD Forum announced today that its Steering Committee has approved Version 1.0 of the DVD-Audio disc specifications, making it the fifth of the DVD format family after DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM and DVD-R. Based on this adoption, the DVD Forum will publish the DVD-Audio Format Book, which contains the detailed specification of the format. Copies of the book will be available to authorized companies early spring of this year.

The new specifications are the product of discussions on the DVD-Audio format which began in January, 1996. This effort was carried out by the DVD Forum’s Working Group 4 (WG-4), under the chairmanship of the Victor Company of Japan, Limited (JVC). WG-4 committee members thoroughly studied the desires of the music industry and interested parties in the US, Europe, and Asia, and have come up with numerous innovations and technical solutions to implement this next-generation digital audio format.

By making sound quality the priority for the format design, the specifications provide the opportunity to offer consumers a listening experience that is superior to anything currently available to the public. Foremost in the specifications, both stereo sound and multi-channel mixes for playback in home theater or automobile environments can be placed on the same DVD-Audio disc, featuring digital recordings that will be technically more faithful to the original studio master recording. The sonic improvements are possible as a result of two factors: the DVD disc capacity, which is nearly seven times that of compact discs, and advances in sound recording technology since the introduction of the CD in 1982.

The DVD Forum issued Version 0.9 of the DVD-Audio Specifications in June, 1998. Since that time the format features and listening demonstrations have been presented to leading audio professionals worldwide. Based on the very positive reactions that have been received, the final format has been adjusted only to accommodate two new music industry requests that are incorporated into the version 1.0 specifications. First, a lossless transmission system for music signal processing has been added as an option for content producers. This transmits very high quality audio signals within a limited transfer rate without any loss of the original musical information, to allow over 74 minutes of multi-channel audio playback off a single-sided, single-layer 5-inch disc. The final specifications were also modified to increase the flexibility for content providers who may elect, for example, to use only Dolby Digital (AC-3) sound with video clips or both Dolby Digital and LPCM sound tracks.

Upon the release of the Version 1.0 DVD-Audio format specifications, the following statement has been issued by The International Steering Committee (ISC), representing the worldwide recording industry. The ISC has been collaborating with the DVD-Audio Working Group for over three years to come up with the best format features for this next generation audio sound-carrier. The ISC stated: “The DVD Forum’s approval of Version 1.0 will facilitate development and adoption of the copyright protection technology that is vital in the modern digital era; the rollout of DVD-Audio products is near, and it will be a milestone for consumers to enjoy a totally new music listening experience.”

Major Characteristics

  1. DVD-Audio supports a wide range of Digital Audio options. The versatility in music creation practiced by the music industry is accommodated by the following elements: available sampling frequencies cover 48kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz, as well as 44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, and 176.4kHz. Bit resolution is also widely supported in l6-bit, 2O-bit and 24-bit. Up to six channels are available for multi-channel recording, with a maximum transfer rate of 9.6 Mbps. Compatibility with the DVD-Video and DVD-ROM formats is maintained.

  2. Recording options range from 2-channel to multi-channel sound. In 2-channel stereo, more than 74 minutes of recording time is possible on a single-sided, single-layer disc even at the highest quality mode, at 192kHz/24-bit. With multi-channel modes, even 96kHz/24-bit, 6-channel recording can be included with more than 74 minutes of playback time. The signal has an immediate presence like that of an actual concert hall, or an entirely new high quality 3-dimensional surround-sound environment. DVD-Audio content recorded in multi-channel mode can also be played back properly on 2-channel stereo systems as intended by studio producers, thanks to the dedicated content producer directed fold-down capability.

  3. Enriched added value options include playback of video clips with PCM and/or AC-3 sound, with the quality of the DVD-Video format. Video sideshows can also be included for viewing while listening to the music. Discscan contains all kinds of information of interest to music fans including: visual display of liner notes (album title, song titles, artist data, etc.); artist discography; and a URL (Universal Resource Locator) for the access to some bonus contents on the Web, which at the content provider’s discretion, may be available only for users with certain commands or passwords.

For further details, contact: Public Relations Dept., Victor Company of Japan, Limited. Tel: +81-45-450-1488, Fax:+81-45-450-1498. Office of Secretary, DVD Forum Tel: +81-3-5444-9580, Fax:+81-3-5444-9436.

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