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TK's MORNING BUZZ: DVD-Audio May Not Be the Next, New Surround-Sound Sensation After All

16 Mar, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

I must admit, I came back from the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) convention in Orlando a lot less optimistic about DVD-Audio than I was before.

I'm generally very keen on new technologies, and when DVD-Video was first launched, I supported it wholeheartedly and predicted it would be huge.

I was right.

When DVD-Audio was first launched, I loved it, too, and until a few days ago believed wholeheartedly that it could revolutionize the way we listen to recorded music just like the CD did two decades ago.

Now, I'm not so sure.

I attended two demonstrations of DVD-Audio at the NARM show, and I was singularly unimpressed. In fact, I found the 5.1 Surround Sound to be a bit annoying and unnatural. When I listen to live music, there are generally a bunch of guys on stage and I hear the music coming from the stage -- not from behind me. So when the presenter played a tune and the choir chimed in behind my back, I raised my hand and asked, "What's up?"

"The producer said he wanted the choir in back, because when he was a kid that's where the choir was in his church," came the response.

Criminy! Are we trying to faithfully reproduce a live sound -- generally the ideal in recorded music, I've always believed -- or are we trying to create a new "work of art" that may or may not be rooted in reality, depending on the producer's, or the artist's, whim?

I can understand DVD-Audio recreating the live experience if there's a recording with a band that has four instrumentalists and one singer. Great -- a speaker for each. But then those two back speakers should be uprooted and placed in front, or off to the side -- anywhere but behind me.

Yes, at least at this point, I think DVD-Audio is going too far. And where's it all going to end? Put the lead guitarist's speaker on a skateboard so when he does one of his famous slides it will sound real?

Give me a break. If DVD-Audio focuses on its higher sampling and bigger capacity to produce more real, lifelike tones, then I'm all for it.

But let's not futz around too much with the channels and the speakers. A movie, where you want to be in the center of the action, is one thing. But a concert?

I like the front row, just fine.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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