Digital Video Articles, Tutorials, Guides & Q & A

Audio, DVD, History, Video Basics

The DVD-Audio Format and Why It Didn’t Catch On

DVD Audio Format

DVD-Audio (Digital Versatile Disc -Audio), also known as DVD-A was developed by Panasonic.

It offers up to twice the sound quality of the audio CD or compact disc audio.

It also sought to offer a playback time of about 7 times longer than that of an audio CD with its higher storage space for audio content.

Much like Super Audio CD (SACD), the DVD-Audio format proposed to offer a better alternative to the audio CD.

DVD-Audio Specs

DVD-Audio operates at a bit depth of 24 compared to audio CD’s 16.

The sampling rate is 192 kHz for stereo and 96 kHz for 5.1 channel surround sound.

In other words, DVD-Audio gives you multi-channel audio compared to audio CD’s 2 channels for stereo.

DVD-Audio can offer up to 6 channels for a surround sound experience.

The multi-channel audio output uses the Meridan Lossless Packing which is a lossless compression system.

This compression is equivalent to or better than Dolby Digital or DTS compression.

DVD Audio vs Audio in DVD Video

DVD-Audio is far superior to the audio contained in DVD Video.

Why is this so? In DVD Video much space is taken up for the video content. Audio is squeezed into the remaining space by using lossy compression.

DVD- Audio, on the other hand, focuses on superior sound by increasing sampling rate and stepping up the frequency range to a level not possible with audio CD and DVD-Video owing to their limited space.

The soundtrack contained in a DVD-Video is 16-bit and the sampling rate is 48 kHz.

DVD-A Additional Content

Typically DVD-A is meant to store music tracks. However, it supports the storage of additional content like liner notes and images, very much like an Enhanced CD.

DVD-AudioV

You may not have heard of this format but you may have guessed the V means it comes with video content.

DVD-AudioV, apart from carrying audio content has a limited amount of video content of DVD quality.

Why DVD-Audio Didn’t Catch On

According to an RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) 2003 report, DVD-Audio sold only 0,4 million discs. SACD managed 1.3 million but audio CD sold a whopping 745.9 million and surpassed DVD-Video (including music DVDs) which sold 369.6 million copies.

Despite the superior sound and additional storage capacity, DVD-Audio didn’t catch on for the following reasons.

1, Additional hardware requirements – people don’t want to invest in technology that may become obsolete much like Betamax.

2. Copy prevention prevents consumers from ripping it and playing it back on a computer.

3. MP3 was becoming popular just when the public was getting used to the DVD-Audio format.

4. The size of a DVD-Audio file was not ideal for sharing over the Internet as opposed to MP3 and other formats with smaller file sizes.

5, Not many popular titles were released in the DVD-A format.

6. DVD-Audio playback would need a Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS sound card or software like foobar2000 with complicated workarounds. Just too much inconvenience compared to audio Cd or MP3 playback.

Free Video Workshop