What's Wrong with my Sounds?
I'm quite happy listening to my CDs, but would much rather be listening to DVD-Audio (DVD-A).
Back in 1999 when I was studying to be a multimedia engineer there was a lot of enthusiasm for the new DVD-A format, and for good reason. CD-quality audio is delivered by sampling and reproducing sounds at a bit-depth of 16 bits (that's the amount of data recorded per single sample), at a rate of 44.1 kHz (44100 samples per second).
DVD-A uses 24-bit samples at sample rates of up to 192 kHz (192000 samples per second). This is all rather dry data, but if you ever get a chance to do an A-B comparison you'll be blown away by the extra clarity (due to the increased sample rate) and dynamic range (due to the increased bit-depth) of DVD-A.
So what went wrong? Record companies didn't release very much in the DVD-A format. I don't really know why. Unless, of course, they were already thinking in terms of sending us in the opposite direction, away from quality and towards quantity. Oh yeah, maybe they were looking at the possibility of using the lossy MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 format (an outmoded and noisy method of compressing sound in digital movies) which we now all know as mp3.
I guess there was a high-level meeting of multinational company executives that went something like this:
A: This DVD-A thing really rocks, eh?
B: Have you any idea of how much it's going to cost us to resample all our top-sellers in the required format?
A: No, but the quality...
C: Never mind the quality, look at these forecasts...
B: Yes we see much better profits using this dodgy mp3 compression and just selling the lower quality item online - the files are really small!
C: And they'll all want these new wee mp3 players that will make them so deaf they won't notice the difference...