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This site is mainly aimed at people new to Home Cinema and provides detailed information about setting up and making the most of A/V hardware. There are detailed guides to setting up and installing your first system, information about sound formats, video formats, and instructions of how it all connects together. For the more experienced Hi-Fi and Home Cinema enthusiast, there is information that may be helpful when considering the various upgrade options available.

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The FEBRUARY Editorial....  

March 05th 2009
DVD-Audio and SACD - Friends or Rivals?

Those of you who read Home Cinema and Hi-Fi magazines on a regular basis will probably be aware of yet another sound format that is about to reach the UK, known as DVD-Audio, or DVD-A. The format used the increased capacity of the current DVD discs to provide high-quality audio reproduction that improves on what we currently get from Compact Disc today. DVD-A is capable of multichannel surround sound, together with text or limited video extras, such as songwords and artist biographies. It has been dubbed as the replacement to CD.

At the same time, another audio format is also in the frame to become the successor to Compact Disc, known as Super Audio Compact Digital, or SACD. This format uses a much-improved version of Compact Disc to increase the sound quality when played through an SACD player.

The main worry highlighted in the press has been one of uncertainty as to which format will 'win' the battle to replace CD - both formats have the potential to produce enhanced sound quality with suitable players, but neither is compatible with the other (so separate players are needed to hear both SACD and DVD-A), and while SACD can play today's Compact Discs, DVD-A can only be played through a dedicated DVD-A player. Most hi-fi enthusiasts will remember the format war between Sony's Minidisc and the Philips developed Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) as each claimed to be the best replacement to the analogue casette for home recording, and the thought of another war between DVD-A and SACD as the replacement to CD is not entirely appealing.

However, when you look more closely, it appears that there is a real opportunity for BOTH formats to co-exist side-by-side, rather than one format conquering the other into submission. Let me explain...

When CD achieved the huge success throughout the world, vinyl records were produced in ever decreasing numbers. This did not go down well with the huge number of vinyl enthusiasts who claimed, with good reason, that the sound quality of CD suffered when compared to analogue vinyl - the data compression and limited frequencies of CD sometimes 'discarded' some of the less-used sound information that made vinyl sound uniquely 'warm' and 'real'. SACD allows this previously lost information to be retained, and is therefore much more suited to a replacement to vinyl that CD ever was.

DAD-Audio, on the other hand, has the potential to improve on CD in a similar way, by allowing more information to be included, processed by faster and more 'detailed' digital / analogue converters, plus the added advantage of multichannel surround sound and video extras.

Given that DVD-A is likely to be added to future generations of DVD-Video players, it makes sense for home cinema and DVD users to embrace DVD-A as the replacement to CD, bearing in mind that today's Compact Discs can be played on any DVD-Video player anyway. SACD, on the other hand, is likely to become the choice of existing hi-fi enthusiasts who value pure audiophile quality over home cinema surround sound. Existing CD collections can be replayed on an SACD player, and some industry tests appear to conclude that the improved SACD processing can also add a degree of quality above that of a standard CD player.

So why can't both formats 'win' the battle? Both offer advantages over CD in terms of sound quality and features, both can play existing CD collections, and each is suited to either hi-fi or home cinema based systems. And reading reports from technology shows around the world in the recent past, it appears that some manufacturers anr already proposing combined players that can handle SACD, DVD-A and maybe DVD-Video, all in the same box. Covering all the bases or a sign of confidence in both formats? Time will tell...

 

 

 

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