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DVD-A, DVD-Audio, SACD

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by fraggle, Apr 6, 2003.

  1. fraggle

    fraggle
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    Hi peeps, paging the Tech gurus out there!

    Just chatting to a friend about DVD-A, DVD-Audio and SACD.

    (DVD-A being the audio bit of normal DVD-Video)

    She says the only difference between DVD-V audio and DVD-Audio formats is
    "DVD-Audio has header tags like MP3 ID4 tags rather than title and menu structure"

    Now to me that sounds like it can't be right, I mean they wouldn't have even bothered making DVD-Audio if that was the only difference, a slight mod in the firmware in all DVD players and it could cope with DVD-Audio discs.

    So whats the difference?

    And I've also been trying to find a good technical description of all three formats, without any dumbing down to "I'm with Stupid" level. And have failed :(

    Any links?

    Help appreciated!
     
  2. MikeK

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    Sadly, your friend isn't quite correct.

    The terms DVD-A usually means DVD-Audio - I think you are referring to DVD-DAD (Digital Audio Disc - DVD-Video discs which have no (or little) video and just use the DVD-V system's audio capability)

    DVD-Audio can feature MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing), a newer style compression system - no DVD-Video player can handle that (unless it also happens to be a DVD-Audio player as well).
    MLP is usually used for 5.1 music mixes on DVD-A.

    DVD-V (and hence DVD-DAD) can feature up 96kHz/24bit stereo PCM, as well as DD and DTS encoded surround formats (inc DTS96/24).

    DVD-A can feature up to 192kHz/24bit stereo, as well as 96/24 MLP surround.
    Just to add to the confusion, most DVD-A discs feature a DVD-V soundtrack too (either lower rate PCM, DD or DTS), to give some level of backwards compatibility with current DVD-Video players.

    One point worth noting is that many DVD-V players won't ouput 96/24 on the SPDIF port, but will resample it to 48kHz.
    Obviously this will have some cost in quality (how much would depend on many things).
    Also, on DVD-A players, no digital ouput is allowed (by the DVD-Audio standard) of high resolution soundtracks - so you have to connect to an amp with 5.1 analogue inputs.

    SACD is DVD-A's direct competitor - it uses a different system of digital storage altogether - DSD. Opinion seems divided, but it's probably on a par with DVD-A for the most part.
    This has no compatibility with DVD at all (although there are DVD players which can handle SACD as well). It also has no video capability. However, you can get hybrid SACD discs which feature a standard CD layer on the disc, which can be played back (albeit at CD quality) on any standard CD player.
     
  3. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    Not strictly true, although it's been the case until recently. You can now get high end Meridian DVD-A players (their flagship 800 player, and I believe the not-quite-so-hideously-expensive-but-still-pretty-hideously-expensive 598) with digital audio outs for connecting to their surround processors or active DSP speakers. I think there were one or two other brands that have come out with similar digital outputs, but it's slow going so far.

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  4. ncpl

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    Dunky,
    Correct. Meridian call it SmartLink, Denon call it (wait for it) Denon Link and Pio do something with Firewire.
    They all have to encrypt the hi-res digital out of the player and decode in the Av amp/proc.

    fraggle, your mate might like to have a butcher's at the following for some info:
    http://www.dvdaudiopreview.com/
    http://www.highfidelityreview.com/
    http://www.audiorevolution.com/
    http://www.aixrecords.com/


    Cheers

    Nick (Owner of the not-quite-so-hideously-expensive-but-still-pretty-hideously-expensive-but quite awesome 598)
     
  5. fraggle

    fraggle
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    Cheers for the links.

    Ok, so to summarise what I've just read....

    DVD-DAD audio tracks can be 2 to 5.1 channels, use PCM (lossy compression) and are 44.1/48/88.2/96Khz, 16/20/24 bit.

    DVD-A can be from 2 to 5.1 channels, uses MLP (lossless compression) and are 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192Khz, 16/20/24 bit. At 192Khz & 176.4Khz they can only be 2 channel.

    I haven't read anywhere that when using 176.4/192Khz, MLP cannot be used? Reading from the first link it implies that MLP can be used on any sampling/bitrate/channel combination?
     
  6. MikeK

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    OK, perhaps the bit on digital outputs is not 100% the case, just 99% it seems :).
    In any case you cannot get a standard SPDIF digital port to output a high res digital bitstream.
    For most people this means no digital output on DVD-A players.

    The current version of Meridian's SmartLink (at least according to Meridian) downsamples stereo 192kHz/24bit to 96kHz/24bit anyway, and Denon's DenonLink may or may not be all it seems at first glance either - I don't have all the info to hand, bit I seem to recall that it was restricted to something like 48/20 on unencrypted material, and encrypted material depended what was allowed by the disc (this may have changed though by now)

    In both cases, AFAIK, it's a proprietary technology - ie, it requires a proprietary decoder at the other end of the link.




    DVD-DAD audio tracks can be 2 to 5.1 channels, use PCM (lossy compression) and are 44.1/48/88.2/96Khz, 16/20/24 bit.

    Not quite - PCM is uncompressed, and DVD-V (inc DAD) can use it in stereo only up to 96kHz/24bit.
    On these discs you can also use a multichannel format such as DD, DTS or MPEG (which is all but dead now) - and these all use "lossy" compression.
    DVD-DAD will usually be 96/24 PCM - perhaps ironically this "format" (strictly speaking it's not a new format, just a repackage of what DVD-Video has always been capable of) may emerge as a serious challenger to DVD-A and SACD - the big advantage is that it only requires a standard DVD-V player, which many people now have!

    DVD-A can be from 2 to 5.1 channels, uses MLP (lossless compression) and are 44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192Khz, 16/20/24 bit. At 192Khz & 176.4Khz they can only be 2 channel.


    Likewise DVD-A can use uncompressed PCM, but now up to 192kHz/24bit (stereo only).
    These discs also support the lossless compression MLP for multichannel audio (up to 96/24).
     

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