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DVD Forum Closes In On Spec

The DVD Forum has adopted an IEEE 1394-based technical standard that will simplify connections between DVD-Audio/Video players and other consumer electronics products, including receivers and TVs.

The Forum adopted the 1.0 version of the standard, which will send digital audio, digital video and control signals from DVD-Video and DVD-Audio/Video players over digital IEEE 1394 cables to products such as receivers and digital TVs (including LCD).

Forum licensing of 1394-equipped DVD players, however, isn’t likely to occur until the movie and music industries agree to a 1394-interface copy-protection scheme that “makes sure DVD-Audio and DVD-Video copy-protection rules apply to whatever the DVD player connects to,” said Forum member Bob Stuart, chairman of Meridian Audio.

Nonetheless, Bike Suzuki, chairman of the Forum’s DVD-Audio working group, said he believes DVD players equipped with compliant 1394 outputs or inputs could be available within the year.

In the interim, Denon and Meridian each adopted separate proprietary digital connections to transport audio, but not video or control signals, from a DVD-A/V player to other products in their lines. The encrypted connections were approved by the Forum, said Denon product manager Jeffrey Talmadge (see story, right).

The two companies’ solutions are more limited in scope compared to the Forum’s 1394 spec, which will make it possible to replace the following cables with a single 1394 cable:

  • six analog RCA cables connecting a DVD-Audio player to a receiver or preamp processor.
  • a digital cable transferring a movie disc’s multichannel soundtrack to an outboard Dolby Digital or DTS decoder.
  • an analog video cable (composite, S-video, or component) to a receiver or direct to a TV.

The spec also lets audiophiles and videophiles circumvent a player’s internal audio/video decoders and DACs. A DVD-Audio disc’s content could be sent in the digital domain, skipping the player’s D/A stage, to high-end receivers and preamp processors that incorporate higher quality DVD-Audio decoders, DACs, and DVD-Audio bass management systems. A DVD-Video disc’s video content could be moved in the digital domain directly to digital video processors such as scalers, to digital displays, or to digital TVs, bypassing the degradation of the D/A conversion process.

The specification also adopts the AV/C Digital Interface Command Set, which many CE manufacturers are expected to add to their 1394-equipped products. AVC lets different-brand components share resources in a peer-to-peer network, and they let any device’s functions be controlled from any other device designated as controller device. AVC devices also automatically recognize devices and their capabilities when added to the network.