By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
At least two suppliers at CES will join Panasonic in bringing DVD Audio to the car, despite the fact that the technology has been slow to catch on in the home A/V market.
Both Pioneer and Kenwood will offer in-dash DVD receivers that are equipped with both DVD Audio and Dolby ProLogic II playback. Although consumer awareness is still low, Kenwood says that DVD Audio's high-quality sound will eventually win over consumers.
"We've been selling DVD Audio for about a year and a half in our Sovereign home product and we're expanding it to the car. When you listen to it, the sound quality speaks for itself. We strongly believe that multichannel sound in the vehicle has a lot of potential. It will need some exposure," said Kenwood sales and marketing VP Bob Law.
Similarly, Pioneer product planning VP Keith Burnett noted, "We will support the format because it will be popular. Right now the price point is a little too high to hit the masses, but over time, the advantages of DVD Audio will be clear."
DVD Audio produces sound at a sampling rate of 192kHz per second with 24 bit audio processing (non-compressed) in six channels compared with CD audio which is at 44.1kHZ/16-bit into two channels.
Sony said it expects to offer a car unit with Super Audio CD (SACD), a competing format to DVD Audio, in 2004. SACD claims to offer a frequency response of over 100KHz and a dynamic range of over 120dB across the audible frequency range.
Suppliers pushing DVD Audio say the multispeaker nature of a car audio system, makes the car a perfect candidate for multi-channel sound. However, the home market has been dogged by a lack of pre-recorded DVD Audio titles, now numbering 300, and low consumer awareness.
According to the DVD Entertainment Group, another 250 titles or more will be released in 2003, bringing the total number to about 550.
Kenwood's new DVD Audio unit is the Excelon KVT-915 DVD. It is a DVD receiver with monitor, and it can play almost every format on the market (except for SACD) including DVD Audio, HD Radio and Dolby ProLogic II. It is also MP3 and Sirius satellite radio ready. The unit is motorized and adjustable in both the screen and the chassis. The chassis can move forward and back, as can the screen. It has a 50 watt by 4 built in amplifier and a separate amplifier for a center channel. It has a touch screen with a new GUI, and built in TV tuner with diversity antenna. The KVT-915DVD replaces the KVT-910. It is expect to ship in January at a price to be announced.
Pioneer's new model AVH-P7500 is an AM/FM/DVD/CD with 7 inch motorized screen. The unit features touch panel operation, Dolby Pro Logic II and DVD audio playback capability. It also has a new multichannel auto equalization system that automatically adjusts the equalizer and time alignment for the best audio possible in multichannel mode. It includes a DIN sized head unit with a very small outboard box for the AM/FM tuner, amplifier and processor.
Both of these models will join the Panasonic CQ-DVR909, the first car DVD Audio capable DVD player, which has been on the market for about a year and a half.
Currently DVD Audio is offered as a step up feature on high end DVD Video players for about a $100 premium. As of July, less than three percent of the total number of DVD discs on the market were either DVD Audio or SACD encoded, according to Alpine, which quoted a study by eBrain.
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