Someone asked over the weekend about DVD's and audio. I mentioned I bought a copy of DiscWelder
Bronze to make DVD-Audio discs and now that I've made a few, some observations:
1. the interface is very simple and the manual is only 25 pages (gotta print a PDF). Simple is good
in this case. If you want all the bells and whistles, it costs hundreds more for the more deluxe
2. Minnetonka Software is small enough that they're easy to deal with. I had what turned out to be a
somewhat silly question but they were patient and I got right through to a human by calling the main
3. I have a Plextor 12x DVD+/-RW drive, external hooked by firewire. I noticed one of the big
downfalls of using DVD media -- even recent drives are somewhat picky about what discs they'll
reliably burn. Plextor burns a wide range but it would not take generic 8x CD-R with an inkjet-print
coating on top, I suspect because the discs were obviously thicker than silver-top and may not fit
the drive properly, but it also might be that Plextor's laser doesn't like that shade of purple dye.
In any case, I generally don't have this problem with CDRW drives, except my Plextor Pro won't burn
the dirt-cheapo Staples and OfficeMax CDR's (probably as a measure to save the user from himself
;) ). Anyway, as I tell my clients, DVD media is great as a TRANSIT medium, to get a lot of files
from my hard drives to their hard drives, but I would not consider it an ARCHIVAL medium until
there's more data about how permanent the discs are. For my purposes here, it's a playback medium
and if the disc wears out I'll just burn another.
4. One of the hidden joys of DVD-A is that you can fit a LOT of mono 44.1/16 content on it. Just
assign the file to the center channel only and then no need for twice the space used for left and
right channels. So if a normal CDR can hold approximately 160 minutes of mono 44.1/16 WAV, a DVD-A
disc can hold more than 5x that, and play it back in real-deal mono (ie through one speaker) if you
have a 5-channel system. So for all the OTR fans out there, there is no longer an excuse to pack a
CDR with hours and hours of junk-sounding low-bitrate MP3 -- just pack a DVD-A with full-monty CD
quality audio. This format is also useful for, for instance an opera recorded off the radio. 5+
hours of 2-channel CD-quality audio fit on these things.
5. the DiscWelder manual warns about long burn times but the recent-vintage Philips drive in my
office Dell computer didn't take what I consider outrageous time (about 30 minutes to compile, burn
and verify a disc that used 89% of the DVD's space). Video DVD's take longer to render and burn
using Sony Vegas in this computer.
6. Even using 2-channel 96/24 quality, a DVD holds two full symphonies with room to spare.
7. Most DVD players will play back DVD-A but check that yours does before taking this road. Some of
the newer dirt-cheap models do not. And some of the older (2 years old or more) models won't read
dye-burned media. Don't be confused: this is NOT SACD, it's DVD-A, which allows for up to 192/24 PCM
digital. SACD is a whole different thing and you need an SACD-compatible player as well as (costly)
SACD converters and authoring software to go that road.
8. I see a little bit of chatter about DVD-A on the audiophile boards but I'm surprised it hasn't
caught on more widely. I see it as the most cost-effective way to get a convenient playback (ie not
chained to a DAW) of high-resolution digital. It's arguable that SACD sounds better, but I sure
don't see any hobbyist-priced SACD recording and disc-creation system out there yet.
-- Tom Fine