DVD-Audio Evolving In Era Of Flash Memory, Hard Disks

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Mountain View, Calif. — The DVD-Audio format is evolving to acknowledge the popularity of compressed-music portables and home-bound HDD-based music jukeboxes and servers.

The DVD Forum has adopted the aacPlus [HE AAC] codec for use as an optional compressed-music track on DVD-Audio discs. The approval opens the way for future DVD-Audio content to be transferred to compressed-music portables and to home HDD music jukeboxes, said David Frerichs, GM for the U.S. arm of Coding Technologies, based here.

Coding Technologies, a Forum member, expects September adoption by the Forum of a digital-rights management technology to protect a DVD-Audio disc’s compressed-music zone. The DRM technology will be DVD-Audio’s CPPM [Content Protection for Prerecorded Media] copy-control technology, but it will be revised to incorporate new rules, the company said.

Major CE companies in the Forum support the developments as a way to transfer protected music files directly from a DVD-Audio player to a compliant music portable or HDD jukebox, said Frerichs. Home HDD jukeboxes could also incorporate a DVD-Audio drive to transfer the protected files to the jukebox’s hard disk. Likewise, PC software could be developed to transfer files to a portable device, but the enhancement was developed with “a CE-centric view of things,” Frerichs said.

It wasn’t clear whether the protected files could be transported by the digital outputs of current DVD-Audio players, but a Coding Technologies spokesperson said, “We have heard that both SD Card and USB-enabled transfer techniques are being looked at.”

Two-channel and multichannel DVD-Audio tracks could be included in the compressed-music zone with a sampling rate up to 96kHz and a bit rate up to 320Kbps in two-channel or multichannel mode, Frerichs said. He called the resulting sound “perceptually clean,” although he admitted that “audiophiles would be able to tell the difference.”

The AAC portion of the spec is a codec whose core technologies were developed by Dolby, AT&T, Sony and Fraunhofer. The “plus” or HE portion of the spec, developed by Coding Technologies, is Spectral Band Replication technology that enhances codec efficiency at low bit rates. The aacPlus standard is used by XM Satellite Radio and is incorporated in the Digital Radio Mondial standard for digital shortwave radio and, outside the U.S., for digital AM radio, the company said.

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