First DVD-Audio/Video Players Built to DVD-Audio Specification Announced

Time for early-adopter audiophiles to start saving those pennies. Panasonic has just announced delivery dates and suggested pricing for two DVD-Audio players: the Panasonic DVD-A7 and the Technics DVD-A10. Beginning this October, Panasonic says that both models will be shipped to dealers nationwide, with the DVD-A7 retailing at $999.95 and the DVD-A10 checking in at $1199.95.

Panasonic says that while the DVD-A7 provides "extraordinary audio and video quality," the Technics DVD-A10 is a step above and "designed to address the needs of discriminating audiophiles." As an example, Panasonic points out that the audio power supply in the DVD-A10 incorporates a system called Advanced Virtual Battery Operation. The company claims that by using a capacitor to supply its charged power to the audio-reproduction circuitry, the technique simulates a battery (a pure source of DC current) to virtually eliminate power-supply "noise" for "faithful reproduction of even the smallest signal information."

Additionally, an R-Core transformer, which the company says has a rounded shape to help minimize leakage flux and noise, replaces conventional transformers' squared-off corners and uneven flux patterns. TA-KE II electrolytic capacitors are used throughout for what Panasonic claims results in better mid-high-frequency response with lower distortion.

Panasonic has also developed a new D/A converter for the new machines, based on MASH technology and refined by Matsushita for 24-bit/192kHz DVD-Audio use. The company says this not only gives these players 24-bit quantization (vs. CD's 16-bit maximum), but that the new DAC, combined with a Digital Re-master Processing circuit, uses audio dithering techniques to increase the frequency response and dynamic range of conventional CDs as well.

Panasonic's Gene Kelsey states enthusiastically that "DVD-Audio not only far exceeds the audio quality of conventional CD reproduction, but provides new enhancements that can combine listening with a truly interactive experience. A DVD-Audio/Video player will be the cornerstone component of all home entertainment systems of the near future."

But it would be a shame if audiophiles with new DVD-Audio players were all dressed up with nowhere to go. Lisa Farris, vice president of marketing for Universal Music Group, says that "Universal Music Group is looking forward to supporting the first new audiophile standard since the introduction of CDs almost 20 years ago. By providing recording artists with an expanded aural palette, DVD-Audio's better-than-CD-quality stereo and multichannel surround sound showcase a whole new listening experience for the consumer. Universal Music Group is preparing releases from a wide range of artists covering every genre in conjunction with the launch of the DVD-Audio player."

In addition to conforming to the newly established DVD-Audio standard and containing an encryption system to prevent unauthorized disc duplication, Pansonic says the new players are full-featured DVD-Video players as well, and incorporate both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS surround decoders. "DVD-Audio is about to unleash an entirely new revolution in what we now simply call home audio," says Gene Kelsey. "It will be an attack on both our aural and visual senses, taking the performer yet another giant step closer into our living rooms."