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DVD Audio & SACD - The Royal Scam Part II - page 2


Issue #2: No Universal Digital Output for High Resolution Signal
There has been some progress here. The DVD-AWG decided on firewire or IEEE1394 as the standard digital interface for DVD Audio. Now the question remains is when will hardware vendors fully support this? Pioneer has introduced one of the first hybrid DVD-A/SACD players with the I-link digital output which incidentally only interfaces with their mega $4K+ flagship receivers and the digital interface only operates for DVD Audio, not SACD. Another company to note who has a solution is Denon. According to their Rep at CES 2002, the new Denon AVR 5803 Receiver has a proprietary digital interface which is exclusively mated with their new DVD 9000 players. This is a brilliant strategy as it does not violate the copyright law set upon digital transmission of high resolution audio signals. While this seems promising, it leaves me a little uneasy that there are only a few vendors with this solution, forcing us to buy costly flagship Receivers and matching DVD Audio players if we want high resolution DVD-A with proper bass management, time delay, and level settings. It would be nicer if the universal digital interface would be adopted more quickly by hardware vendors so that consumers had their choices of brands and model #'s to suit their preferences and budgets. It would also be nice if Sony / Phillips would jump on the standardized digital interface bandwagon and we could have a single digital interface solution for both formats to eliminate all of the technical and cabling issues currently hindering these potentially high resolution formats. 

IEEE1394 Firewire

IEEE 1394 Firewire Interface

Meridian, the co-developer of Meridian Lossless Packets (MLP) also has a proprietary digital interface for their Preamp Processor and DVD player. However this is a very costly system that most people would have to refinance their homes to afford. It is unclear if Meridian intends to transmit MLP data via this interface from the DVD-A player to the Processor, or if this interface will be used solely for DD / DTS and digital transmission to their active DSP loudspeakers.

Issue #3: Limited and Expensive Software
There has been some progress here, mostly for DVD-A, since I wrote the this article's predecessor. However, the titles are not being delivered as quickly as promised. In addition, most of the software costs around $25, which is almost $10 more than a current CD that is already overpriced in my opinion.

I have a hard time believing the masses will shell out $25 for a high resolution DVD-A or SACD disc which most peoples systems, and ears canêt appreciate the difference, especially in an MP3, "Cubed Speaker" world we live in. This leaves these two competing formats fate on the support of the audiophile minorities. DVD-A seems to have a slight edge since it has more hardware supporters, and is backwards compatible with DVD-V via the Dolby Digital 2.0 or DTS 5.1 alternative soundtracks. However, SACD has many more titles and Record Label support. At this point, it's a toss up who will be the clear winner, or if there will be a winner at all. I suppose in the next year or two it may not be so ambiguous. I am personally hoping that both formats can peacefully coexist.

Issue #4: No Channel Speaker Delay Adjustments (most players)
The purpose of channel delay speaker settings is to configure the proper amount of signal delay for each speaker based on their distance from the listening position. This helps to create more realistic imaging between all speakers to provide a more enveloping and natural surround field. Speaker Distance compensation is impossible to do in the analog domain. The lack of a digital output for DVD-A / SACD negates the possibility of your Receiver / Processor to handle this task and thus at this point, it must be done in the player. To date, with the exception of the soon to be released DVD-A players from Denon, there are currently no DVD-A / SACD players on the market that incorporate this feature.

Issue #5: No Channel Volume Level Adjustments (some players)
Many of the DVD-A players on the market do not give the option to adjust volume levels for each channel. Since you connect these players via the analog outputs, you have no control of this in your Receiver / Processor. Only the master volume may be adjusted which in turn scales the remaining channels down proportionally. The problem with this is if your rear speakers are too close or too far from your listening position, or if the DVD-A mix contains too much or too little output to the rear channels. Since you have no control to vary surround volume levels, your rears, or even center channel, may play too loudly or too softly depending on your situation. Luckily some of the newer DVD-A players and all of the new Sony SACD players do have channel level adjustment feature, but we weary of the player you may be considering to purchase if you arenêt sure it incorporates this critical feature. A solution for this may be an analog volume level control feature added to the six channel inputs of the A/V Receiver. Some A/V Receiver manufacturers have made claims that their new models will be offering this feature. We will just have to wait and see, or should I say, listen. The Apex AD-7701 illustrated below has no bass management, speaker delay settings, or volume level adjustments for DVD-A or SACD.


Apex AD-7701 Universal DVD-A / SACD Player


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