Digital Outputs for DVD-Audio?

The EE Times is reporting that the DVD Forum is getting close to finalizing a specification that would allow audio signals to be available via digital outputs on DVD-Audio players. Audiophile frustration with the new DVD-A format has mounted in the months since its introduction, with lack of access to a high-resolution digital signal from players, which currently have analog-only outputs, and the possibility of watermarked discs.

Concerns regarding copy-protection have slowed the DVD-Audio rollout considerably and are at the root of the decision to not include high-resolution digital outputs on current players. But in an article dated March 28, the Times reports that the DVD Forum is planning to use the IEEE 1394 (aka FireWire) specification to connect DVD players with digital audio amplifiers and digital television sets.

The DVD Forum's Hideki Mimura is quoted as saying that "the principal mission is to create a 1394 recommendation for playback-only DVDs. After we finish this step for playback-only DVD, the next step is discussions for recordable DVD." Mimura adds that "before the 1394 specifications and the guidelines even become available, however, a practical digital interface implementation for DVD products has to consider various copy-protection schemes adopted for DVD."

The DVD Forum has adopted the "Audio & Music Data Transmission Protocol" (also known as the "A&M protocol") specification to enable the transmission of audio data and MIDI data on a 1394 bus. The A&M protocol is described as a plug-and-play type standard intended to allow the high-resolution DVD-Audio formats such as 96/24 and 192/24, as well as compressed audio formats such as AC-3 and DTS, to be sent from one 1394-equipped device to another.

The DVD Forum says it will post its latest guidelines regarding the 1394 specification on its web site near the end of April.