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In-Car Systems Will Propel DVD-Audio, Panel Says

14 Jul, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner

Consumers have been slow to adopt DVD-Audio partly because they don't understand the benefits over CD and partly because of price, but in-car systems should help overcome both issues, a panel of experts said at the recent “DVD at 5” conference.

“All it takes is one listen to one song and the only question is, ‘Where can I get one?,’ said Alberto Reggiani, national marketing manager for home audio at Panasonic Consumer Electronics.

“It's really a breathtaking experience the first time you hear it,” agreed Jeff Dean, SVP of sales and marketing for 5.1 Entertainment. “You can have the ambience of the [concert] hall, which is something concert audiences have always wanted.”

DVD-Audio lets producers record sounds that are not only clearer, but presented so listeners with a surround system perceive the sounds as coming from different directions. While that might not be desirable for an orchestral performance, Dean said, it's a great selling point for dance music.

Onboard car DVD-Audio systems are pulling into pole position for the 2003 model year and will propel the format to wide acceptance, said David Del Grosso, VP, marketing for DTS Entertainment.

“If you live in L.A. and you have to go on the 405 [freeway], you really need some new entertainment,” he said. Pointing to the way most car audio systems rely on speakers that surround the listener, he said home theater system penetration will give the format muscle as well.

Video games also will help the format gain recognition, he said, noting the first baseball video game to use DVD-Audio is expected out for the holidays and will include sound so crisp and powerful that a player “will hear the ball go past [his] head.”

With a format just 2 years old, even the talent and producers need some education before accepting it, Del Grosso said, relating the experience when Queen's Brian May and producer Ray Thomas went into the studio to create a DVD-Audio release.

“They resisted it the first two hours in the studio,” Del Grosso said. “After that, we couldn't get rid of them.”

In fact, producers can refine so many elements of earlier releases, “there must be a certain care taken to not just throw things around the room because you can,” Dean said.

Educating decisionmakers also will advance the format, he said, because DVD has been so successful they have been reluctant to foot the bill for remixes when they can simply release music titles on DVD-Video without remixing costs attached to DVD-Audio.

Another boon to the format will be the relative difficulty of copying it to formats vulnerable to pirates.

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