CD Basics

 CD Audio










DVD-Audio introduction title graphic

DVD-Audio Overview

DVD-Audio adds very high quality, surround sound to the Digital Versatile Disc and complements DVD-Video.

The Compact Disc is now 20 years old and, while it is likely to continue for many more years, new formats are now available offering higher quality and additional features, but still on the familiar 12 cm optical disc.
  • The CD is still the format of choice for most people. It is compact; the quality is high enough for most and it is most suitable for use in cars and on the move. Enhanced CDs offer additional multimedia content such as videos for playing on a PC.
  • DVD-Video is becoming more popular for music videos, which offer not just high quality video but also surround sound, neither of which is available on a CD. DVD-Video, however, cannot match the quality available from DVD-Audio or SACD.
  • DVD-Audio offers at least 74 minutes of very high quality, surround sound, plus additional features (such as video and limited interactivity) that are not available on CDs. Capacity of a single layer DVD-Audio is  of high quality full surround sound audio. In addition the disc can accommodate the same audio encoded as Dolby Digital for playing on existing DVD-Video players. During 2003 a double-sided 'hybrid' version is likely to become available with a CD compatible layer.
  • SACD (Super Audio CD) also offers high quality audio and optional surround sound but no images, video or interactivity. SACD discs can be hybrid and include a CD audio layer which will play on normal CD players, albeit at CD quality. SACD discs will not play on DVD-Video players unless they are designed to play SACD.

With the increase in penetration of surround sound systems in homes, stimulated by the growth in DVD, more and more consumers will want their music in this format.  DVD and SACD offer surround sound, but only DVD offers multimedia content.

The DVD Forum working group WG4 developed the DVD-Audio specification, which was originally released in March 1999 but it took another year to add copy protection and watermarking. DVD-Audio players have been available in the USA since July 2000 and several of the major music companies and many independents have released several hundred DVD-Audio titles. Most players are also DVD-Video capable and nearly all DVD-Audio discs will also play on DVD-Video players, in full surround sound but using compressed audio.

DVD-Audio is not just a niche format for audiophiles, but could grow into a mass-market, surround sound format suitable for all music genres.

DVD-Audio Features

The main features of the DVD-Audio specification include:

  • High quality multi-channel audio with copy protection
  • DVD-Audio players will play CDs
  • A wide range of quality levels and channels allowing flexibility for the content owner
  • Extensible to include new technology when available
  • Additional added value content including video, stills, text and menus
  • User friendly navigation system
  • Connection to the Internet for the latest information for that title



In this page:

DVD-Audio Features

See also:

DVD-Audio (PDF document)


"DVD-Audio is not just a niche format for audiophiles, but could grow into a mass-market, surround sound format suitable for all music genres"


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