Audio DVD disks--their quality and their future

We were strolling through best buy and I noticed that audio DVDs are now available. I had first heard of the format back in 1996 but had not known that they were currently available.

I’d like to know if anyone has tried it and what do you think about the quality? Further, what do you think about the future of this medium? If you have any links to expert commentaries, please also share those (it is a hard subject to google, as you get a million shopping links right up top).

Personally, I find it hard to get positive or excited about the medium. Here’s why:

  1. I welcome a new audio medium: a medium to end all mediums. One that has a sampling rate so high that the human ear could never perceive anything better. Something analog and very close to natural sound would be even better. We also have the technology to create this ultimate medium right now (don’t we? I’m not pretending to be an expert). If DVD audio represents the ultimate, then fine. If not, then let’s skip it and go for the ultimate, even if we have to wait a few more years. I don’t think we need another half-assed medium like 8-track, quadrophonic, DAT, mini CD, etc. etc.

  2. The “we give you permission to buy this physical object and enjoy the material in limited fashion” school of musical enjoyment is a thing of the past. The majority of people now want to listen to the particular tunes they want and enjoy them wherever they go. In other words, iPod, MP3s, the works. Audio DVD is already anachronistic.

  3. The same stupid-ass pro-empire “country codes” and restrictive encoding (right?).

  4. Still using the jewel case, which deserves to be in the Top 10 Worst Packages of all time. Oh, but make those cases bigger and heavier while you’re at it! (To distinguish them from smaller CD cases?!–More for your money?!)

  5. DVD players have not been conceptualized with the audiophile in mind. Even if the discs themselves are great, I need a bit of reassurance that I am going to get truly superb sound from the whole system. Surely I am not going to get ultra-high-quality digital audio from your average cheapo DVD player; yet the industry has not taken the time to tell me just what I should do to get that experience. I sniff insincerity, a lack of real effort or guts in that area.

Hence, even if the medium is an improvement on CDs, I see little reason to celebrate. Please let me know what you think.

True audiophile DVD players do exist - for a price. This example from Linn can play not only DVD (audio & video) but is also one of the very best regular CD players on the market. It also costs ~ £6,000 (> $10,000) :eek:

Regardless of any technical merit I am not convinced that DVD-A (or SACD - a rival format from Sony) will catch on because, currently, audio quality is not a priority in the mass market, convenience and cool-new-gadgetry are.

Dunno; AFAIK, most set-top DVD video players will also play DVD audio discs (mine will, at least), so if you have a 5.1 surround-sound setup for your home cinema system (lots of people do), then the Audio DVD can take advantage of it. I can see the point, sort of.

I have one Audio DVD, but only because it’s the flipside of a DVD video album - Blue Man Group Complex Rock Tour Live - I’ve listened to it once - even though the mixes are different on the audio side, the Blue Man Group seems pretty pointless without the visuals.

I don’t think that audio DVD is going to have legs. The only advantage it really has is improved fidelity, and CDs already offer more than enough for the average consumer.

CDs offered a huge convenience factor over vinyl, with a fidelity and convenience improvement over tape. DVD doesn’t offer much over CD. Getting a double album on one disk is nice, but that isn’t a market mover.

I have a feeling the next step will be going non-media. You buy the song in the data format of your choice and load it onto the storage device of your choice via standard hookup or wireless transfer. It’s already begun, and will just grow until it is the dominant format.

When you refer to “quality” are you asking about long-term durability of the DVD itself?

If you are, I can contribute. I work in a museum, and suggested to our curator that we ought to start burning some of our VHS films onto DVDs for long-term preservation because magnetic tape breaks down over time. He shook his head and said that the VHS films would most likely outlast the DVDs.

Apparently, CDs and DVDs are made of an unstable plastic which will break down and make them unusable after a decade or two. He said that the commercial in which the newly wed couple burn their wedding video onto a DVD and then toss the VHS tape made him cringe.

Do CDs have a life expectancy of 10 years? - Str8 Dope Archives 8/10/2002.

I can’t see why DVD-Rs / DVD-RWs would be less

What are you talking about? Jewel cases are great. If you can think of a storage unit that matches the jewel case for durability, protection, and convenience, I’d sure like to hear it.

Your curator is an idiot. VHS is probably the most fragile format ever devised, except perhaps for writing letters in the sand during low tide. Magnetic tape not only degrades every time you play it, simple exposure to the air causes it to break down. I’ve got tapes that are 15-20 years old that have only been viewed once or twice, and already they’ve gone bad.

He might be thinking of “DVD Rot”, which is a problem with some DVDs where the plastic layers become separated, air gets through the cracks and begins to corrode the aluminum data layer. This can happen if you flex and twist the disc a lot, especially if the center hub of the storage case is too tight. However, this only happens to factory-produced discs – recordable DVDs use a layer of dye that doesn’t “rot”, although it is more susceptible to other problems like heat and sunlight.

The durability of jewel cases is horrendous! The plastic cracks far too easily. I’ve moved a lot, and every time I do it seems that a bunch of my CD cases break.

The protection that jewel cases offer is adequate but not ideal. The plastic can scratch the CD. The central hub is also bad: Some are too tight, and you can damage the CD trying to yank it off.

The convenience of the jewel case is its worst aspect; it’s true suckage. One great virtue of CDs is their compactness and lightness. The jewel case at least doubles of the weight of the disc + package. The paper books that typically come with CDs are hard to slide into the plastic nubs in the front cover.

Jewel cases are awful packaging.

I’ll 2nd the “What are you talking about?” hijack…but wouldn’t have done so unless I could contribute something more positive. If you don’t like the hubs offerend in standard jewel cases, you can always buy lift-lock adapters.

[QUOTE=Mangetout]
Dunno; AFAIK, most set-top DVD video players will also play DVD audio discs (mine will, at least), so if you have a 5.1 surround-sound setup for your home cinema system (lots of people do), then the Audio DVD can take advantage of it. I can see the point, sort of.
QUOTE]

Sort of, indeed. I got a free SACD with my new DVD player last year. Some Bob Dylan stuff from the 60’s. I don’t believe thay had 5.1 DTS Dobly back then :smack:

Unless, like a lot of people, you get them covered with greasy stains and scratches…

I have a universal player that plays DVD, CD, SACD, and DVD-A. It cost $200. It puts out superb sound in both SACD and DVD-A.

I love these formats. I have a dedicated home theater with acoustically treated walls and a good sound system. A well-mixed 5.1 DVD-A or SACD (they are competing hi-rez audio formats) is an almost religious experience. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was remixed in 5.1 by Roger Waters, and it’s amazing. When the clocks go off at the beginning of “Time”, they’re all around you - you feel like you’re in a room filled with clocks. It’s a very cool experience. The footsteps running around actually circle the room. Synthesizer swishes fly over your head. And the sound is totally devoid of the harshness you get from the CD - the singers are simply in the room with you singing.

Some DVD-As and SACDs are mixed poorly or copied from poor masters, and they’re no better than a CD. So it really depends on the source material. But at it’s best, it’s astounding and well worth buying.

But DVD-A and SACD aren’t going to replace CDs. They’re not really a competing format. What they are is a way for the record companies to re-sell their product to the same market, and for them to sell premium versions of the same product to audiophiles. I personally don’t care about the digital rights management on these, because I own the CD version of every SACD or DVD-A I have. So I have a source of music for my computer and Mp3 player. But I’m sure glad that for the few discs that are worth it, there’s an audio standard that lets the material shine.

One advantage of CDs/DVDs over magnetic tapes, as a long-term storage medium, is that lossless copies can be made - OK, it would be expensive, but copying your archived material onto new media on, say, a 15-year cycle would avoid most risk of loss through degradation; try this with analogue magnetic tapes and you’re still suffering degradation every time you make a copy.

Of course, the media companies are doing everything they can to eliminate this advantage. Don’t DVD Audio discs use stronger encryption than DVD Video?