JVC, Philips and Meridian Issue Dual Disc Consumer Advisory Notices

In what is now a familiar event, two more companies – JVC and Philips – have issued consumer advisories about the new Dual Disc format. The statements follow a recent notice from Meridian which provided a detailed report on its various disc players and how they fare with the new Dual Disc releases.

High Fidelity Readers will recall that the Dual Disc is a “flipper disc” format invented by Warner Music in the U.S. which features DVD content on one side and CD content on the other. While the Dual Discs have been playable in most consumer disc players, there have been some consumer reports of play problems – usually with the side marked “CD”. Apparently these consumer reports have led to a number of CD, DVD and SACD player makers to take the cautionary step of issuing consumer advisories on Dual Disc playback with their products.

Dual Disc Consumer Advisories To Date
To date, we’ve now seen 12 such Dual Disc advisories from the following firms:

  • JVC
  • Lexicon
  • Marantz
  • Mark Levinson
  • Meridian
  • Onkyo Electronics
  • Philips
  • Pioneer Electronics
  • Sony Computer Entertainment America
  • Sony Electronics America
  • Sony Europe
  • Toshiba

    The Word From JVC
    The Dual Disc comments from JVC have raised some eyebrows since the firm is very active in the DVD Forum which recently granted the Dual Disc format the rights to use the DVD logo on its releases. Indeed, JVC’s Bike Suzuki is one of the heavy hitters on the DVD Forum itself.

    As to the consumer notice, it is part of the company’s Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) feature for consumers. In response to the question “Can I use DualDisc in my JVC CD player?”, JVC’s web site says that:

    “Some music companies have released a new type of pre-recorded hybrid disc called “DualDisc”. These discs contain DVD formatted software on one side and non-DVD formatted software on the reverse side. The non-DVD side, which is sometime referred to as the “CD” side, does not comply with the technical specifications of the “Compact Disc Digital Audio” standard and lacks the designated logo for that format. For this reason, JVC cannot guarantee playback of the material on the non-DVD side of the disc. JVC, therefore, recommends that its customers not use “DualDiscs” with their JVC products. JVC will attempt to test certain “DualDisc” titles and will post results at www.jvc.com in the future.”

    A Dual Disc Notice from Philips
    Turning to Philips, I’m sure no one is surprise to see a DualDisc notice from this firm as they have been rather vocal about their concerns about the format – starting with public comments they made about DualDisc at this year’s Surround 2004 Conference in Hollywood, California. At that event, officials of Philips’ Intellectual Property & Standards (IP&S) Group, which licenses use of the Compact Disc logo, explained their decision to not grant use of the CD logo to the Dual Disc format and commented on their testing of DualDisc discs with CD players.

    As with JVC’s DualDisc comment, the Philips consumer advisory is also rather general in nature. It tells consumers that:

    “Some music labels have recently introduced the DualDisc for pre-recorded audio and video content. The DualDisc bonds DVD content on one side ‘back-to-back’ with digital audio content on the other side. However, the digital audio side does not meet the technical specifications specified in the Compact Disc Digital Audio Standard. For this Reason, DualDisc is not permitted to carry the CD logo. Philips DVD and CD players and disc drives fully comply with the CD specifications and therefore may not recognize the DualDisc. Attempting to use DualDisc may lead to playback problems or jamming in the slot loader or drive.

    The DVD video content on the DVD side of the DualDisc should play on Philips DVD players and DVD drives. However, Philips DVD players and drives do not support DVD Audio, and will not play any DVD Audio content present on the DVD side of a DualDisc. Philips will further investigate DualDisc and update this notice accordingly.”

    More Information from Meridian
    The recent Dual Disc statement from Sue Toscano at Nicoll Public Relations on behalf of U.K. based Meridian provided perhaps the most detailed information to date about the format. Meridian is the developer of the MLP compression used in many DVD Audio and DualDisc releases, so one would expect that the firm would be up on the playability of the DualDiscs themselves.

    In the statement, Meridian divides their product line into 3 categories – DVD Players, CD Only Players and ROM Based CD Players. Meridian says their DVD Players play the DVD side of DualDiscs “perfectly” but note that these players “do not always play the CD-compatible side because the player optics are not designed for such thin CD layers. We do not propose to make any modifications to our DVD player designs because these components are highly optimised for playability of Red Book CD and DVD.” The company suggests playing the DualDisc DVD side on these players.

    Meridian says the “CD” side of Dual Discs “functioned perfectly” in their CD Only players. Finally, on the company’s ROM based CD players, Meridian will offer “an inexpensive modification that allows these players to play DualDisc perfectly with absolutely no change in the quality for regular CD. The player will have to be sent to an authorised service centre, so please do not undertake this option unless you plan to collect these discs.” This upgrade program will be available to interested Meridian owners in “early 2005”.

    In summary, a rather complete run down on their product line and Dual Disc playback. The offer of a low cost ROM upgrade is also the first from a company to tweak their products for the new format. We’ll watch with interest to see if similar tweaks are forthcoming from other vendors in the weeks and months ahead.

    Meridian's G08 ROM Based Disc Player: A ROM Upgrade will be available from Meridian for this player in Early 2005 to optimize DualDisc playbackMeridian’s G08 ROM Based Disc Player: A ROM Upgrade will be available from Meridian for this player in Early 2005 to optimize DualDisc playback