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1394 Standard Comes To DVD-Audio

Pioneer expects to be the first supplier offering an industry-standard 1394 connection between a DVD-Audio player and a receiver, the company said during the CEDIA Expo here.

The connection replaces seven audio-cable connections with only one.

Meridian and Denon have already launched DVD-Audio players with proprietary digital connections sanctioned by the DVD Forum and by the 4C copyright-protection licensing group. Pioneer, however, has begun shipping a multichannel-SACD/DVD-Audio player incorporating the standardized solutions approved by the Forum and, provisionally, by 4C for all DVD-Audio players.

The Forum approved a 1394 connection for transporting multichannel digital audio, and 4C provisionally approved DTCP (Digital Transmission Content Protection) technology for DVD-Audio outputs.

The combination allows for an approved way to securely transport the content of an encrypted DVD-Audio disc over the 1394 cable, said product planning VP Matt Dever. Without 4C approval, the connection would be able to carry only the content of unencrypted DVD-Audio discs, which are available only from independent music companies, he said.

During the CEDIA Expo, Pioneer said it began shipping the $1,200-suggested Elite series DV-47Ai DVD-AV/SACD player. Its dual i.Link 1394 outputs will transfer digital audio (but not digital video) over a single cable to the $4,500-suggested Elite VSX-49TXi, which is equipped with dual I.Link inputs and decoders for DVD-Audio, SACD, CD and the DVD-Video format’s 5.1-channel surround formats. It shipped in September.

An i.Link output replaces the six analog cables needed to connect SACD and DVD-Audio players to receivers. The output also transfers movie-soundtrack formats, eliminating a seventh cable connection.

Dual iLink connectors allow for serial or parallel interfacing, allowing greater flexibility in integrating the DV-47Ai into a system, Dever said.

Dever contended that the approved standard “is the only way to send the digital signals of DVD-Audio and DSD [SACD] without any loss.”

Meridian president Bob Stuart, however, said his proprietary Meridian link is capable of passing the full resolution of DVD-Audio without any loss “and has been able to do so from the outset.”

Stuart also pointed to possible 1394 limitations in transferring high-resolution audio. “A major issue with 1394 is that it is inherently jittery, and considerable care will need to be taken to provide sound quality even approaching high-end performance or to ensure exact audio time alignment in surround systems,” Stuart contended.

HDMI connections promise low jitter while providing better picture quality than 1394, Stuart said, pointing to HDMI’s potential to transport DVD-Audio. “Meridian is keen to see an interoperable interface adopted by the overall CE community,” he said, but “currently it is not obvious whether HDMI or 1394 or a mixture will be the consensus.”

In a related announcement, Denon announced plans to upgrade the Denon Link digital-audio connection between its $3,500-suggested DVD-9000 DVD-AV player and its $4,300 AVR-5803 receiver. The connection will now transport multichannel music from encrypted major-label DVD-Audio discs, not just from the unencrypted discs. Denon received 4C approval for transporting encrypted signals over its proprietary digital connection. Current owners will be able to return their products to Denon for a hardware/software upgrade.