DVD-Audio 1.0 is Set

Drum roll, please: As promised, the DVD-Audio 1.0 specification has been finalized by the DVD-Audio Working Group 4 of the DVD Forum, and will shortly be presented to the Steering Committee for final approval. A multitude of delays both technical and political popped up over the last two years, stalling the evolving specification until just recently. (It was orginally intended to be released months ago.) Still to be settled, however, is how DVD-Audio 1.0 will co-exist with Sony's and Philips' promise to promote their rival technology, Super Audio CD (SACD), as an independent and competing format.

A press release from the Working Group Chairmanship, JVC of Japan, states that "the Working Group has studied the requirements of the music industry and interested parties in the US, Europe, and Japan, and has reached solutions required for the next-generation digital audio format." The format will be formally unveiled at the DVD Conference in San Francisco October 1 and 2.

As previously reported, the 1.0 spec will use Meridian's MLP lossless compression scheme, which will allow over 74 minutes of 2-channel audio on a single-layer disc at the 24-bit/192kHz rates---a theoretical frequency response of DC to 96kHz with 144dB dynamic range! In multichannel mode, 74 minutes of 24-bit/96kHz 6-channel audio are possible, which can also be made compatible with 2-channel systems.

The specification allows for sampling frequencies of 48kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz, as well as 44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, and 176.4 kHz. Quantization is available in 16 bits, 20 bits, and 24 bits, and up to six channels are available for multichannel recording, with a transfer rate of 9.6Mbps maximum. In addition, the spec supports playback of video clips in the DVD-Video format, and "slide shows" can also be viewed while listening to music. Supplemental information, such as liner notes (album title, song titles, artist data, etc.), artist discography, and a URL (Universal Resource Locator) allowing web access, are also included.

In a departure from the DVD-Video spec, DVD-Audio will not have regional coding to restrict discs purchased in one country from playing on a machine bought in another. There is also a door left open for an "optional audio" format to be added at a later date---perhaps the DSD coding used on Sony's and Philips' SACD? We'll let you know if Sony shows up at the Conference in two weeks.