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AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - web magazine for music, audio & home theater

New Editorial Below!

Welcome to the 68th issue of the web magazine for audio, music and home theater - transitioned from the former national radio program AUDIOPHILE AUDITION - heard for over 13 years on public radio and commercial classical stations coast to coast. We are dedicated to your auditional wellbeing.

Some major changes for this issue: We are moving toward more frequent additions of news and reviews. We have the same number of total disc reviews this issue as the last - 124 - but we will be adding lots more during the month of September. So put us in your Favorites and come back often! We continue to review more SACDs & DVD-As than any other publication web or print. We have also added a one-to-five stars rating to all of our disc reviews, as we have been doing from the start with our DVD video reviews. Total timings of discs are also being added as available.

This issue we have 48 Hi-Res disc reviews - DVD-A, SACD, and xrcd - multichannel and stereo! Our Special Feature this month is an interview with Classical Recording Engineer Da-Hong Seetoo, and four of his discs are reviewed in our Classical section. We review three components this month: Two from V, Inc. - their Bravo D2 Scaling DVD player and their Bravo HD1 HDTV OTA receiver - plus Role Audio’s top of the line tower speakers, The Enterprise. Our 32 DVD video reviews sets a new record and begins with 14 Music Videos! Among outstanding DVDs for your collection are The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale; and The Tin Drum.

Be sure to register on our site - either with the pop-up on the home page or by clicking in the announcement of the current Universal hi-res disc giveaway, and you will then be elegible for the DTS DVD-Audio discs giveaway we are conducting this issue, as well as for future sweepstakes!

And we’d love to hear from you about these enhancements as well as anything you find on the site or are not finding on the site. All feedback to our email address (below) will be responded to.

- John Sunier

Believe It or Not - Two More New Hi-Res Formats!

Isn’t it confusing enough that the effort to achieve a higher-resolution digital format to replace the aging 44.1 Compact Disc has been hampered by the introduction of two completely different formats - Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio? Guess not, because Intel and Microsoft have now developed two more differing and non-compatible hi-res formats especially for computer and Internet use. Intel High Definition Audio or IHDA will, according to an Intel spokesperson “usher in a new era of sound quality on mainstream and performance PCs, paving the way for broad adoption of next-generation audio.” It has a bandwidth of 100kHz and a sampling rate of 192kHz with 32-bit words. HIFI NEWS’ Barry Fox (who also describes DVD-Audio as “virtually dead”) suspects IHDA is a reinvention of DVD-A with Microsoft compression replacing MLP (so that licensing fees won’t have to be paid to Meridian). Intel’s idea is that the PC will be playing a major part in the growth of home theater and hi-res audio.

Microsoft isn’t just sitting back either. They brought out a successful high-definition video process some time ago - Windows Media High-Definition Video or WMV HD. Now they have launched the Microsoft Windows XP Media Center which also seeks to make the PC the center of home entertainment and audio systems. This has been tried before and it didn’t work. How about the tremendous processing power required for such AV encode/decode, the frequent crashes, the updating hassles, the incompatibilities with all the varying formats, and (as a staunch Mac user) the increasing danger of viruses which can totally wipe out your PC? (We Mac users are so far unaffected because we constitute too small a percentage for computer terrorists to concern themselves with.)

The newly-introduced DualDisc could be the savior of the DVD-Audio format with its ability to provide standard CD on one side and DVD-A with some video on the other side, thus equaling the compatibility of hybrid SACDs. However, early reports from the field indicate many incompatibilities with disc players due primarily to the non-Red Book increased thickness of the DualDiscs. Then in DVD recorders we have the incompatibilities of the -RW camp vs. the +RW camp, causing no end of consumer hair-tearing.

But the most serious red flag being raised in the AV field at this moment is a possible hi-def DVD format war. Sony is behind the Blu-ray Disc hi-def DVD, which is the more advanced technically and more complex to achieve (just as were their previous formats - SACD, and long before that, Betamax). Warner Bros. is the main force behind HD DVD, which has somewhat less capacity and resolution but can be manufactured on existing DVD production lines, making them cheaper to produce. At first it appeared that powers in Hollywood would put their collective foot down and say: “We’re going to go with one single hi-def DVD format in order to continue the phenomenal growth of the original DVD.” That’s not happening and it is now beginning to look like the complete idiocy of two competing hi-def DVD formats may be upon us by next year.

- John Sunier

STAFF WRITERS This Issue: Donna Dorsett, Dalia Geffen, Tom Gibbs, Max Dudious, Laurence Vittes, Gary Lemco, Brian Bloom, John Henry, Peter Bates, Bob Moon, Calvin Harding Jr., John Sunier.

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  503-977-2189  © John Sunier 2004  

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