DVD-Audio 2002: Warner Music Group Overview

DVD-Audio 2002: Craig Anderson of the Warner Music Group, representing Warner Bros, Atlantic and Elektra labels didn’t have far to travel in order to attend the DVD-Audio 2002 presentation as the Warner Bros. lot is literally on the other side of the street from Dolby Labs. Burbank offices. He gave High Fidelity Review an overview of their activities during the remainder of the year.

Of the upcoming WEA titles being released on DVD-Audio, Anderson was most excited about the October 15th release of Linkin Park’s ‘Reanimation’, while a week later will see the release of Alanis Morissette’s ‘Under Rug Swept’ followed swiftly by REM’s ‘Automatic for the People’.

Anderson was quick to address the concerns of listeners that feel the Dolby Digital track on the DVD-Video compatible layer of DVD-Audio discs might be a different mix than the MLP tracks. He assured High Fidelity Review that they are simply downsampled from the 24-bit 96kHz masters they receive and not altered in any way.

As for the stereo tracks, they are not always specifically mixed for two-channel (unlike their SACD counterparts). When a disc does not contain a dedicated two-channel track, there is always a downmix created automatically using embedded bitstream information from the discrete multi-channel mix. That said, Warner Bros. always tries to include a high-resolution two-channel Meridian Lossless Packing or PCM track on their DVD-Audio releases in the US; but rather disappointingly for those overseas, international versions of the same titles include only the multi-channel mixes.

The MLP stereo tracks are always 24-bit 96kHz unless the artist specifically requests otherwise. According to Anderson very few ask for higher resolution, with only artists like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young coming to mind as having requested the stereo tracks be 24-bit 192kHz.

For fans of audio hardware produced in Cambridge, England, Anderson also mentioned having listened to Meridian’s 800/861 transport/decoder combination, commenting that he had “…heard details I’ve never heard at our mastering facility from those same discs.” Talk about a ringing endorsement! He half-jokingly added that as a result he’ll have to get Warner Bros. to upgrade their DVD-Audio facilities…