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The Great DVD-Audio bitrate scam

CJROSS

Well-known Member
The Great DVD-Audio bitrate scam

Dudes I have been reading a few comments from DVD-Audio users in these forums (Bobbypunk etc) with great interest about how low DVD-A bitrates actually are stated on the back of the disc package, well It was with great interest that I recently bought :

Porcupine Tress : In Absentia (Wonderful album BTW) :
http://www.play.com/play247.asp?pa=stts3&page=title&r=DVDA&title=157345

My thinking was it was available for roughly the same price as the CD version £12 from Play, and it would be interesting to see what it would play on (I don’t own a DVD-A player but I use DVD-V @ 48Khz & LPCM @ 48Khz via my DVD-V player to an offbaord DAC), ie Ive heard that you can play DVD-A on some DVD-Roms in PCs, well heres my finding after one disc.

Audio tracks
DVD-Audio 5.1 24 Bit 48Khz
DTS 5.1
16/48 Linear PCM

Is this for real ? Ie does 48Khz surround sound classify as DVD-Audio ? I thought that DVD-A was packaged as being 5 x 24Bit 96Khz hi-rez surround sound or 2 x 24 Bit 192Khz hi-rez stereo. I mean this is a joke IMHO. Don’t get me wrong the 16/48 LPCM track (ie a standard DVD-V readable track - the only one I can use on my DVD-Rom & DVD-V player) sounds sublime, but the 16/44.1 redbook CD version does as well – it’s a very well recorded album.

So the moral of the story of DVD-A is that it seems that it is being pushed as a 24 Bit format rather than higher frequency sampling rate (96-192Khz) quality, which brings me to HDCD & Some DVD-V material I have run into. HDCD recorded at 20 Bit – 44.1 Khz is it that different to 24 Bit – 48Khz ? or what about DVD-V material like : Dave Gilmour Live (Another wonderful live concert BTW) :

http://www.play.com/play247.asp?page=title&r=R2M&title=109718&p=25&c=&g=25

This DVD-V disc has a 24 Bit – 48Khz Linear PCM track on it, which sounds superb to my ears, so what goings on with DVD-Audio ? Nothing Im seeing is convincing me to adopt the format ie how many 24 Bit – 192 Stereo recordings do you guys know of ? And if 24 Bit – 48 Khz is the new “standard” on the ground, whats the point ?

Your views are appreciated.
 

sticker

Standard Member
I've noticed this as well, recently (2 weeks ago) bought 2 DVD-A discs from DVD Pacific and after playing the first disc (The Planets) was distinctly underwhelmed, so much so that I got out my 2 channel vanilla CD which imo was far superior. The remaining disc was better but nothing like some of my other DVD-A (Linkin Park, Missy E etc). :mad: :(
I certainly in future will be taking notice of the actual bit rate prior to buying any more DVD-A

Regards
John
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Originally posted by sticker
I certainly in future will be taking notice of the actual bit rate prior to buying any more DVD-A

Regards
John
A good point John but how will you be able to do this unless you can physically check the back of the case to see what the sampling rate is ? Ie I could not see from play before I bought (neither do Amazon/Vivante et al show bitrates or sampling rate) and there is no way of checking from what I can tell until someone buys a DVA-A disc and reports to other users.

All seems like a scam to me hoodwinking the public with substandard recordings. I would also note that SACD as a format has not “diluted” it hi-resolution content in the way that DVD-A has, ie how many 24-192Khz stereo tracks have you heard of in DVD-A?

ATB
 

sticker

Standard Member
Yep that is the problem in not actually having the disc cover in my greasy mits! I was hoping that the disc producer would have some info on their website, but I won't hold my breath on that though!
This kind of underhand action devalues the DVD-A momentum and seriously undermines its attempt to claim the "new resolution wars crown". I think that when DVD-A is done well, it is very good, but imho every SACD disc that I have (don't yet have a SACD player) has been really well recorded, this being a deciding factor for me.
Well Recorded, high resolution was what the 2 new formats were all about I was led to believe, but the proof is in the pudding......................some puddings are distincly stodgy?

Regards
John
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Originally posted by sticker This kind of underhand action devalues the DVD-A momentum and seriously undermines its attempt to claim the "new resolution wars crown". I think that when DVD-A is done well, it is very good, but imho every SACD disc that I have (don't yet have a SACD player) has been really well recorded, this being a deciding factor for me.
Agree 100% John there is no reason not to have 24 Bit – 96Khz 5.1 mixes on DVD-A discs or even 24 Bit 192 Stereo ones, as soon as they start downsizing the quality of these tracks then its fair game from the SAC side to point out that the majority of DVDA are below promised levels ie 5/24/69 or 2/24/192. FWIW I own 2 SACD discs : Stings Sacred Love & Nigel North on Linn SACD now the interesting thing about these discs, is that they are both wonderful sounding in CD terms (in fact the Nigel North one is also HDCD ontop of being SACD/MC & Stereo at the highest resolution) It sort of shows who is taking the contest seriously.

Originally posted by sticker Well Recorded, high resolution was what the 2 new formats were all about I was led to believe, but the proof is in the pudding......................some puddings are distincly stodgy?
Same here but its patently obvious since the early days of this format that they did not give a stuff about hi-resolution stereo in the form of 24 Bit 192 recordings, how many of those are there ? I don’t think Im far off of saying that 24 Bit 48Khz surround tracks are about equal to DVD-V levels. Now even the MC 5.1 mixes are being pumped out at ridiculously low levels, really does smack of DAB and its touted 192Kbps data rate, now at 128Kbps, and what are the magazines saying about DVD-A quality ? diddly !!

Now this is not a discussion of how superior or better SACD is but when you look at the resolution levels offered since the beginning of SACD it has never went downwards like DVD-A has.
 

EvilDead

Novice Member
I don't think that 192/24 DVD-As are going to solve all the problems. I have a couple of disks which sound well ropey, however I think this is due to poor mastering rather than not being a 192/24 recording, just like CDs, some are good, some are
bad.

I don't take too much notice of this when buying as there is much more to making a disk sound good than recording it at 192/24 IMO. I apply the same rule as when buying kit, don't buy on specs.

I do agree though that they should be making more of the capabilities of DVD-A, though how soon this is likely to change I don't know. I recall reading it's due to the lack of modern kit in the majority of recording studios (could be wrong, the old grey matter gets confused!) so it could be some time.
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Originally posted by EvilDead I don't take too much notice of this when buying as there is much more to making a disk sound good than recording it at 192/24 IMO. I apply the same rule as when buying kit, don't buy on specs.
Evil the old “as long as it’s a good recording” argument is a copout IMHO, you disocunt the specs above then at your peril (ie a record exec reading your comments thinks “well these guys are accpeting 48Khz as a standard then), ie DVD-A has been marketed as high resolution format for the specification levels of 5.1 @ 96Khz & 2Ch @ 192Khz. FWIW I would rather have a 5ch mix recorded at 96Khz & played back at 96Khz (same with 192Khz material) than a 5Ch mix at 48Khz how on earth is this hi-resolution ? Even if you say its well recorded ? This format is about extracting the best audio from a DVD disc pure and simple so the specs are everything in this case, for example the Porcupine Tree recording is excellent but they are still ripping off DVD-a fans with a piffling 48Khz track.

Originally posted by EvilDead I do agree though that they should be making more of the capabilities of DVD-A, though how soon this is likely to change I don't know. I recall reading it's due to the lack of modern kit in the majority of recording studios (could be wrong, the old grey matter gets confused!) so it could be some time.
Well nearly every studio these days IIRC is 24 Bit 96Khz ready, we in Europe have long fell behind what is regarded in the US as quality recording studios standards, ie 24/96 capable or HDCD able studios, think of companies like Chesky et al always pushing the high-resolution cause, the only studios I know of in Europe who match these heights are from Linn in Scotland, and they have chosen SACD as their hi-res medium.
 

sticker

Standard Member
Originally posted by CJROSS
ie DVD-A has been marketed as high resolution format for the specification levels of 5.1 @ 96Khz & 2Ch @ 192Khz.
I agree, this is the crux of the matter. It would be like promoting a new BMW 6 cylinder car and selling the 4 cylinder version. Both fine cars but the 6 cylinder is so much better, that by driving the 4 cylinder you are missing out on so much and have been mis-sold.
All IMHO of course and probably a very bad analogy :blush:

Regards
John
 

EvilDead

Novice Member
I wouldn't want any record execs to think I'm prepared to accept a poor substitute!!!

My point is perhaps illustrated by something sticker said, that his CD of The Planets sounds better than the DVD-A, if you look at them based purely on the specs, the DVD-A should still have the CD licked, and I reckon even if the DVD-A was 192/24 there's every chance that wouldn't change.

Using his analogy whilst you'd be a bit miffed if you ended up 2 cylinders shy with your BMW, having 6 cylinders doesn't guarantee you'll beat the 4 cylinder at the lights!!!

What we all want is race tuned M3s!!!
 

VirusKiller

Novice Member
Just a thought (bearing in mind that I neither own nor have heard DVD-A or SACD):

Are we talking about new or existing recordings? If new, there is no excuse. If old, what would would these originally have been sampled at? Red book 44.1?
 

Jeff

Well-known Member
Done properly, 24/48 is perfectly adequate.
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Originally posted by Jeff
Done properly, 24/48 is perfectly adequate.
Well Im sure it is perfectly "adequate" as my experience of Dave Gilmours DVD-V is very good sounding, but are you happy to know then that DVD-A should be 24/48 as its "adequate sounding" when it always been shoved at the hi-res market as 5/24/96 or 2/24/192 ?

Am I reading this correctly ? I thought you guys would be kicking up a stink about this. BTW I bought into the DAD format with 24/96 stereo from DVD-V and that died a slow death, and it sounded stunning. SACD cannot be accused of watering its resoltuion down unlike DVD-A. If 24/48 is accpeptable to a lot of people why do we need DVD-A then its perfectly able to be carried on the DVD-V medium IIANM.
 
N

nthornhill

Guest
Originally posted by VirusKiller
Just a thought (bearing in mind that I neither own nor have heard DVD-A or SACD):

Are we talking about new or existing recordings? If new, there is no excuse. If old, what would would these originally have been sampled at? Red book 44.1?
I get the feeling looking at recent DG/Decca/Philips/EMI/Sony CDs that recordings have been at least 24 / 96 for quite a while and probably far higher (or recorded directly in DSD, as Sony have been doing for plenty of classical stuff lately). I assume they simply downsample it for the CD. That should mean that taking the original master copy for creation of DVD-A at higher resolution is easy enough, even if the recording wasn't originally aiming for DVD-A use.

What I'd like to know is whether a DVD-A from a 24 / 96 multichannel master tape will sound better or worse than a SACD which has been converted from PCM to DSD on the way. I imagine DVD-A would have a distinct advantage in such a case...

Of course, the moment you start contemplating such matters you have to accept that even SACD doesn't guarantee 100 KHz resolution, since if they are upsampling from a PCM master there will be all kinds of compromises involved. :) So even with SACDs it's probably a good plan to look for the "recorded directly in DSD" on the box if you want guarantees of recording quality. Most SACD hybrids I've looked at so far don't necessarily state this...
 

ncpl

Standard Member
CJ,
In response to your question:-
"....how many 24-192Khz stereo tracks have you heard of in DVD-A"
I have nearly 50 DVD-A. Only 2 carry 48k/24 tracks. The other are all 2/192 and/or 5/96.
I accept the argument about hi-res should be hi-res and 48 is standard res when you consider DVD-V to be an existing standard.
The packaging should, but doesn't always, state the various content options. Some do but get it wrong (e.g. Natalie Merchant states a 2-ch MLP mix but there isn't one)
Given some comments that the SACD's sound great (albeit not played on a SACD player ???) means we are talking about a comparison of DVD-A to redbook CD. I am with Evildead on this in that the musical/artistic/studio engineering content is almost infinitely more important that the tech spec of the disc. I have loads on CD's that I am delighted with such that I would never replace them even if a DVD-A or SACD was available.
I also have some DVD-A that simply do not shine...Naxos Planets is one. It's dull. Others are simply not my cuppa because they are not played to my liking e.g Koopman/Bach organ disc. I just don't like his playing. Compare to a Nimbus ambisonic CD of Bach organ stuff and it's blown away......regardless of format.
The big muso companies of course will scam us one way or another. Low bit rates, DSD or MLP cut from the 44/16 PCM master not the original tapes, etc etc.
I would suggest you check a DVD-A that is at least widely regarded and well produced in every respect. It would be a shame if you took your bat and ball home after just one purchase.
FWIW - my idea of good sounding DVD-A would be LAWoman, Petsounds, King/Clapton and above all else...Art Pepper/Rhythm Section.
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Originally posted by ncpl CJ, It would be a shame if you took your bat and ball home after just one purchase. FWIW - my idea of good sounding DVD-A would be LAWoman, Petsounds, King/Clapton and above all else...Art Pepper/Rhythm Section.
Nick an excellent response if I may say so first, Like any SACD I purchase just now, a DVD-A I purchase will have one eye on the future, ie I will buy a DVD-A player if I amass a few discs. But unlike SACD, The DVD-A industry is hardly doing the format any good (IMHO) supplying resolution below 96/192, this is the main selling point of the format, now taking me out of the equation (as a potential customer) I have noticed quite a few comments here and on the AAsylum of these lower bitrates, so its not just levelled at the DVD-A disc I purchased BTW. At the end of the day we all want the best quality recordings from any format, FWIW of the artists you mention above I have heard HDCD of

LA Woman
Petsounds
Claptons Reptile
All of Natalie Merchants HDCDs And these all sounded sublime. (You have fine taste in music sir IMHO)

I think it would be a good idea for DVD-A users like yourself to make it widely known if a DVD-A has resolution lesser than 96/192, it would enlighten a lot of us beforehand about how much effort the record label puts into these DVD-As. Quite easy to copy any info into this thread for example.

ATB
 

alfablue

Standard Member
I don't have the in-depth understanding shown above, but I have a few DVD-A's

I see REM's Reveal states 96/24 whilst Automatic states48/24

Is the lower spec of the older Automatic likely to be due to limitations of the original source recordings? Otherwise why would they choose this lower spec for what might be their best album?

Looking at "In Time 1988-2003" I think I may have answered my own question. On the back, no info on reolution. Inside in very small print, they say most are 96/24, but some were recorded at 48/24 and have been "unsampled" (is that a typo? do they mean upsampled) for audio consistency.

Yes Fragile is 96/24 - but then this is surprising given it's 1970's vintage

This is all very confusing, and at times it seems the truth may lie in the smallprint which is not possible to view pre-purchase.
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Richard : a lot of recordings are at 48Khz dude then “upsampled” at mastering process to 96Khz or 192Khz, again all this fannying around with the recording process is another faux paux by the DVD-A industry, compared to DSD rercording for SACD, the resolution is captured in the original take ie no possible tweaking down the line, not like DVD-A in a lot of cases like your mention above to retain “audio consistency” saying that though a lot of SACD recordings are PCM based, from old mastertapes then converted to DSD these are as I have read the SACD mixes that get the most compalints for audio quality, But direct DSD recordings are from what I read from SACD users, the ones in SACD that make hairs rise on the backs of necks, a bit how DVD-A @ 192Khz should do.

Upsampling as you mention above offers nothing new to the original recording, ie no extra detail or resolution but it tweaks the existing recording to how the recording engineer wants it to sounds, ie his opinion. A pure 96-192 Khz audio trail is what you are looking for as it captures more info than 48Khz, even after upsampling to 96Khz its basically a “guess” on what it should be, the exact same is true of you say listening to a CD @ 44.1Khz sent towards a lot of new fangled 192Khz DACs the 44.1 is upsampled but no data added (upsampling is a hugely contentious issue FWIW). I hope that explains upsampling in laymans terms dude.

I share your concerns about the small print on the resolution of discs, but TBH I think its all being kept quiet & hidden to stop people who want the highest resolution from having any ammo to complain.
 

alfablue

Standard Member
Thanks CJ - very informative.

So I should assume that the Yes DVD-A is upsampled, even though there is no mention. (In a way, I don't object because these are classic albums, but it would be nice to know).

As for SACD - I have Miles Davis Kind of Blue - I am unconvinced by that, whilst SACD gives 5.1, surely given the antiquated recordings they used it surely gains very little, and perhaps loses the ambiance of the vinyl version.

But what about DSOTM - that is using old recordings, but that does indeed make the "hairs rise". I gather they did take a great deal of care over this release.

Finally - we have these new standards, DVD-A, SACD, what about the standards extending to the way in which technical info on recordings is presented? (It needs to be standardised, AND on the back cover). Obviously there are commercial disincentives to this, but in the end surely a truly quality product will sell itself to some extent.
 

CJROSS

Well-known Member
Originally posted by alfablue So I should assume that the Yes DVD-A is upsampled, even though there is no mention. (In away, I don't object because these are classic albums).
Well unless the Yes team are a bit partial to time travel, I would assume the DVD-A are remastered from orginal masters, just like SACD DSD of old PCM masters. So not original, as I said SACD fans are more into pure DSD recordings. That’s not to say that DSD-PCM or Masters-DVD-A upsampling are bad sounding far from it. But a “pure” path in resolution is what these formats (both BTW) are about to audiophiles.

Originally posted by alfablue But what about DSOTM - that is using old recordings, but that does indeed make the "hairs rise". I gather they did take a great deal of care over this release.
Well Floyds Roger Waters & Dave Gilmour have long been known as a band how take great care in their recording quality, the 2 DVD-Vs Ive heard from both of these guys : Waters : Live in the Flesh & Gilmours Live Acoustic are certianly audiophile quality (and that’s on the DVD-V format), The Wall on vinyl is one of the most wonderful things Ive heard in my collection its even beats many audiophile 180g pressings, as a final aside I cant wait for Pulse on DVD-V this year. The CD is also a wonderful release, it does not surprise me that DSOTM is so critically praised in SACD terms. These guys are wonderful to fans how care about audio quality.

Originally posted by alfablue Finally - we have these new standards, DVD-A, SACD, what about the standards extending to the way in which technical info on recordings is presented? (It needs to be standardised, AND on the back cover). Obviously there are commercial disincentives to this, but in the end surely a truly quality product will sell itself to some extent.
Very good points Richard, I know that pure DSD mastering for SACD releases is advertised as a selling point, generally in the SACD cover notes albeit, but DVD-A as mentioned above in the small print sometime gives away small details to audiophiles, would you advertise that ?
 

ncpl

Standard Member
Guys, I'm not sure why the assumption is that older stuff (e.g. Yes-Fragile) is not an A/D done at native 96 or 192 from the original master or at least an analogue master. The companies that dupe us with upsampling I think are the minority.

If you look at the DVD-A cast list on the inside back cover of Fragile, the number of people involved suggests a proper job was done....and the SQ supports this IMO.

If you look/listen to Pet Sounds, they do explain what was done, how, why etc to breathe the most amazing life into what was already a great album. If you haven't had chance to hear yet, it's well worth it. Recording year = 1966, DVD-A sound = stunning. The bass synths (or whatever they were called then) are huge.

So, for me there is no correlation to the spec on a given disc and it's original recording age. Another one to break the rules is perhaps Bjork - the 5.1 is 48k but sounds mighty fine. Tubular bells is the same. I do wonder why Oldfiled went to all the trouble to re-do it but only at 48 in stead of 96.

A nice A/B to do for 2-ch is Young/Harvest. Simple acoustic songs that in 192 become so vivid. Also Rumours - Great in both 2.0 and 5.1

For pre-purchase reviews, try this place
http://www.highfidelityreview.com/reviews/index.asp
 

ncpl

Standard Member
Forgot to mention AIX records. Definitely native 96 recording and discs are stacked full of extras. Again stunning sounds albeit you have to pick the titles carefully to match your own tastes in music.
 

alfablue

Standard Member
Good point Nick - and I agree about SQ on Fragile. Is there any source of definitve information about various albums / recordings? (Probably not, I guess).

I do believe in treating things at face (or ear) value - if it sounds good, fine. But I also want to seek out and buy the best recordings I can.
 

manny

Standard Member
reading some of the earlier posts it seems that some things could be made a little clearer. those old 70's recordings aren't upsampled as they were not originally digital recordings, they were made on good old fashioned analogue tape. when the c.d.s were mastered they were taken from these analogue tapes at 16 bit 44.1 khz. there have been instances where a new high-res version was upsampled from these c.d. masters but mostly the engineers went back to the analogue tapes and made new 24/96 or 24/192 masters. if you look at The Doors L.A. Woman album, the stereo version is 24/88.2 while the multi-channel is 24/96. this is because the stereo is the same re-master used for HDCD while the multi-channels were completely re-mixed from the original multi-track tapes transferred to digital at 96 khz.
SACD is the same, the Dark Side Of The Moon tapes were transferred from analogue tape to DSD.
the problem comes from recordings made from the late eighties on, where the original recordings were made digitally. there are only a fairly small number of all digital recordings from then but they are all 16 bit and either 44.1 or 48 khz. only in the mid nineties did 20 bit recording appear, and more recently 24 bit. while analogue tape can hold enormous detail and dynamic range which succesively better digital mastering has been able to extract more and more of, these early digital recordings contain all the information they ever will, they can be enhanced and tweaked but that's it.
i've rambled a bit but i hope someone can get something useful from what i've said, thank you if you've read this far ;)



one other thing, some recording engineers would say that bit depth is more important than sample rate, so 24 bit is capable of sounding much better than 16 bit, even if both recordings are only 48khz. i still think 192 khz sounds amazing and i wish there were more discs carrying it.

another point i forgot, SACD can be taken from old digital recordings too, DSD works at a fixed bitrate, so while there will always be the same amount of information on the disc this takes no account of the source material, you might say it was upsampling without telling anyone! i know one recent SACD ( though my brain can't remember which one ) was re-mixed from 16 bit copies of the original muti-tracks, made necessary becuase the original tapes had degraded so much. as far as i remember it still sounded fabulous though, score one for recording quality over bitrate? many re-mixes have also had their analogue multi-tracks transferred to digital at 24/96 PCM, been re-mixed and then the final mix transferred to DSD. since most digital studio equipment works with PCM i question if a true all DSD recording, unless recorded live, is even possible at the minute.
 

alfablue

Standard Member
great info Manny - it's becoming clearer.

"Dark Side Of The Moon tapes were transferred from analogue tape to DSD"

So this explains why DSOTM sound so good?
 

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