Exclusive: the DVD Forum has officially approved DualDisc, the dual-sided DVD/Compact Disc hybrid disc tested recently in Boston and Seattle. In a statement issued to High Fidelity Review, Bike H. Suzuki of JVC and Chairman of WG-4 said: “DualDisc is officially approved by [the] DVD Forum.”
DualDisc is the DVD Forum’s answer to SACD, a disc that offers both high-resolution DVD-Audio and DVD-Video compatible content on one side and Compact Disc compatible content on the other. BMG, EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Universal all tested titles within the first batch of thirteen – although Sony’s discs did not include high-resolution content – thereby indicating that the format will have widespread support amongst the major record labels.
The impact of DualDisc could well be far reaching, not just for the high-resolution listener. While DVD-Audio/CD hybrids will address many of the negative issues raised about the format (specifically the inability to play a DVD-Audio disc in a standard car or portable system), the market is also likely to embrace DVD-Video/CD hybrids, with movie or concert titles offering up a CD version on one side of the disc.
Warner Music Group representatives described DualDisc as: “…a feature rich and flexible music product with highest quality fidelity available. Identical in size and looks to a Compact Disc or DVD disc, the DualDisc offers consumers the option of playing the disc in either a CD player and or DVD player.”
Once the Boston and Seattle tests were underway, approving DualDisc was a two-step process. First, the DVD Forum’s Working Group (WG-4) evaluated the technology, their primary concern being the physical compatibility of the discs themselves. Some industry commentators have gone on record with erroneous claims about DualDisc being impossible due to disc thickness, however this was overcome some time ago. Cinram, who produced the test discs told High Fidelity Review that “DualDisc has the standard DVD layer thickness on one side and a slightly thinner than normal CD on the other. The DVD capacity is equivalent to a standard single layer DVD at 4.7GB, and the CD layer can hold approximately the same amount of data as a regular CD.” DVD Plus, manufacturers of a rival technology have also reduced disc thickness to 1.48mm (the DVD specification calls for discs no thicker than 1.5mm).
The TCG (who coordinate the activities of the Working Groups) then submitted the technical proposals to the Forum’s Steering Committee, whose responsibility it is to address financial issues such as technology and logo licensing.
“The Dual Disc was approved at the last TCG meeting. The approval at TCG was reported to the Steering Committee held last week in Seattle and ratified,” Bike H. Suzuki confirmed. For more information on the DVD Forum, visit: http://www.dvdforum.org/
DualDisc has the potential to kick-start both the DVD-Audio market (some major label insiders have told High Fidelity Review that their release schedules have been on-hold pending a decision on DualDisc) and the music market in general, with single-inventory discs that offer video, supplementary materials, Compact Disc, high-resolution and even AAC content all in one package. It will also be interesting to see how SACD supporters Sony and Philips attempt to redress the balance… watch this space…