DVD-Audio draft specs announced at CES; HDCD ported to Motorola DSP chip

As expected, the DVD WG-4 Audio Working Group announced at CES that it has released a draft of its DVD-Audio specification to the 10 original DVD consortium companies, and to music-industry associations RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), RIAJ (Recording Industry Association of Japan), and IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry).

Details of the standard, two years in preparation, were sparse, but we find it significant that the chairman of WG-4, Bike H. Suzuki, felt it necessary to say that "The WG-4 recognizes that the music industryÆs top priority is copy protection. . . . For this reason, we believe that the final format design must be capable of accommodating new secure protection technology such as watermarking, or embedded data technology." As reported in "As We See It" in the February '98 issue of Stereophile (due to hit the newsstands next week), it is believed that the record industry will not allow unencrypted, high-quality (24-bit/96kHz) linear-PCM data to be accessible outside a single-box DVD-Audio player. Either players will not have digital outputs to feed a separate high-quality D/A processor, DSP-based room equalization processor, digital recorder, or digital control center, or if they do have unencrypted digital outputs, these might be restricted to CD-standard (16-bit/44.1kHz) data. We will bring you more information on the proposed DVD-Audio standard as soon as we hear it.

The CD is not yet buried, however. The same day that WG-4 made its announcement, Motorola announced that its new 100MIPS DSP (digital signal processor) chip, the DSP56362, will include Pacific Microsonics' HDCD decoder and digital filter, in addition to the industry-standard Dolby Digital (AC-3), DTS, and MPEG2 data-reduced surround-sound formats. With over 25 million HDCD-encoded CDs already sold, this chip will bring better-than-CD resolution and dynamic range to the home-theater receiver and DVD-Video market. And it is, of course, possible that Motorola hopes that the inclusion of the HDCD algorithm will give their DSP chip a commercial edge over the new Cirrus DSP chip. (And check out the Beach Boys' superb-sounding, HDCD-mastered The Pet Sounds Sessions boxed set!)