What's stopping a company from developing a hi-rez PCM format with no video?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by KeithH, Dec 3, 2001.

  1. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    I like DVD-Audio, but in comparison to SACD, I find the need to run a DVD-Audio player with a TV to access on-screen menus a bit cumbersome. Don't get me wrong. It's not like I am going to give up on DVD-Audio, but I've been wondering what is stopping a company from developing a competing format without the video content. Given the maturity of PCM technology, couldn't a company develop a non-video, high-resolution PCM format that might better compete with SACD? I do see a few potential problems with the development of such a format:
    1) The need to use Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP) for fitting high-resolution PCM on a 5" optical disc: Note that I am not talking about the DAD format as an alternative to DVD-Audio. For one thing, DADs have video, though one does not have to navigate on-screen menus to play them. Also, DADs are limited to 24/96 PCM stereo. I am talking about a non-video format that could play 24/192 stereo and 24/96 5.1 tracks. If no video were incorporated, it is possible that an encoding scheme like MLP would still be needed. I assume that Meridian has locked the use of their MLP scheme into the DVD-Audio format. Thus, a company would probably have to develop an alternative to MLP for a new format. That could certainly be an impediment to the development of a non-video version of DVD-Audio.
    2) The need to find a major record label to back the new format. SACD has Sony Music and DVD-Audio has Warner. Other major labels such as Virgin and Universal have either released titles in one of the new formats or have announced support for them. Thus, there may be no major label around to back yet another high-resolution format.
    3) What kind of player would be used to support this format? Since this high-resolution format would be based on PCM and there would be no video requirement, both DVD and audio-only players could support it. So, there is potential flexibility there. In that respect, such a new format could attack SACD and DVD-Audio head-on, though the company(ies) backing the new format would need a focused marketing approach (as with any new product).
    4) Can the market support yet another high-resolution audio format when SACD and DVD-Audio still haven't achieved mainstream status? The two current high-resolution audio offerings have yet to establish themselves as mainstream formats, and there is reason to question whether or not a high-resolution format ever will. The CD is ubiquitous, and I don't see the masses wanting to give it up, even for MP3, let alone a high-resolution format. So, a third high-resolution format would have to be considered a risky proposition.
    On the surface, a non-video, high-resolution, PCM-based audio format as an alternative to DVD-Audio would be attractive, at least to me, but there are many potential issues that could hinder its development. What are your thoughts on the development of such a format?
    Finally, I have heard a little about 24/96 DTS coming down the pike. I assume that this format will offer video, so frankly, I am not sure how it will differ from DVD-Audio from a user-interface and sound standpoint. Do we really need 24/96 DTS? I guess the answer could be a resounding yes if this new format can offer some quality software not available on SACD and DVD-Audio. Still, from a technical and ergonomic standpoint, what will 24/96 DTS really bring to the table?
     
  2. Michael_T

    Michael_T Second Unit

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    Keith,
    Basically you are describing DVD-Audio. There is nothing stopping any company from actually releasing DVD-Audio discs without any video content. I do not think that video content is something that must be on a DVD-Audio disc, other than the fact that since it is a DVD, and it is being marketed to the lowest common denominator, including video content (even if it is just a title screen and a few nice pictures) make it more acceptable to the home theatre crowd (as well as the "audiophile").
    If Sony can make their multichannel SACD players such that you can select either stereo or multichannel with a push of a remote button, it would seem that the DVD-Audio consortium could have come up with an easier way to access the stereo and multichannel mix without having to turn on your TV. (I know you can access the multichannel mix by merely pressing play when closing the disc drawer without having to use your video monitor.)
    I think if DVD-Audio was firmly directed towards the "audiophile" like SACD was at the beginning, maybe we would have seen DVD-Audio only players, instead of DVD-Video/DVD-Audio combo players, that focused more or the inherent sound quality of DVD-Audio rather than all the extras on the disc. I guess since it had DVD as part of the description, the marketing genius' said it HAS to be a DVD with pretty pictures and special features out the wazoo.
    I agree, alot of the extras (videos, Dolby Digital compatibility, DTS compatibility, pictures, etc.- and these are extras when you think merely about DVD-Audio vs. SACD - where most Sony SACDs are incompatible with regular CD players) are unnecessary and eat up precious disc space - but how many do you think would sell without them? I know alot of people who buy DVD-Audio discs merely to hear them in Dolby Digital surround. More money for the marketers - and greater market share.
    I think DVD-Audio would satisfy your model for a PCM format without video, but businessmen got in the way. [​IMG]
     
  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Michael, you make solid points. I described DVD-Audio without the video, obviously. Unfortunately, no DVD-Audio players have a two-channel/multi-channel button on the remote or front panel, as you alluded to. With DVD-Audio, you can operate the player like a CD or SACD player by placing the disc on the tray and hitting "play" instead of "open/close". However, I believe the multi-channel track is chosen by default when there is a choice, and there is still no way to toggle between the stereo and multi-channel tracks without the TV.
     

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