CES: CD Compatible DVD-Audio On Its Way

CES: Combination DVD-Audio/Redbook CD discs are already in the pipeline and will be appearing on retailers shelves in the near future, reliable sources in Las Vegas, including software manufacturers, told High Fidelity Review last week. It is widely known that Warner Bros. personnel are already supporting such a move, but until now questions have been raised about the viability of the idea from a licensing perspective.

However, although a formal announcement has not yet been made, we were given the impression that WG-4, the DVD-Audio Consortium and part of the DVD Forum, has embraced the expanded disc format to overcome objections to the lack of DVD-Audio disc compatibility with standard CD players in the home and car.

By eliminating this roadblock, the intent is to further broaden the appeal and increase the value proposition of a DVD-Audio purchase (DVD-Audio discs already contain Dolby Digital and/or DTS tracks that are backwardly-compatible with all DVD-Video players). Of course, the high-resolution DVD-Audio content will still require a DVD-Audio-capable player.

We are told that although dual-layer technology already exists for putting both DVD-Audio and Redbook CD content on the same side of a disc, initial releases will be dual-sided to insure greatest compatibility and simplicity of use: put in one side for the CD track, and flip it over for the DVD-Audio and DVD-Video content.

Regardless of the much-touted – and perhaps erroneous – technical superiority of DSD (see our Surround Professional show report for more), a large part of the SACD format’s appeal lies in its CD compatibility. With the advent of CD compatible DVD-Audio discs, the current format war will undoubtedly step up a gear as one of SACD’s few advantages over DVD-Audio is nullified.