Dual Discs

Having now got the taste for high definition 24 bit/96khz digital audio, I was keen to explore what other content is available other than downloads. DualDisc is crudly speaking a CD and DVD glued together to give two formats on one disc. DualDisc first started appearing about five to six years ago but never really caught the market, one of the main stumbling blocks being that not all CD/DVD drives (especially slot loading types) could read the discs as the thickness of the combined disc caused all sorts of problems with some hardware.

However what is not always well documented is that the video side of the DualDisc normally contained a high quality 24/96 PCM soundtrack. There is unfortunately one caveat that confused many people and me alike. Back in 2005, I purchased a DualDisc copy of Duran Duran's Astronaut (the first comeback album with the original line-up). Because this DualDisc was released through Epic/Sony, the DVD only has "enhanced audio", which means the PCM audio track is recorded at 16/48 with an additional 'lossy' Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The reason for this is the Sony went out of their way to ensure the DualDisc format did not offer a similar sound quality to their propietry SACD format. The general consensus amongst audiophiles is that SACD and 24/96 PCM offer a very similar sound quality. This is a crying shame for the format and means that anyone looking to purchase these discs as a means to accquiring high quality audio really need to do their research properly and be sure what is on the disc.

One other point that should be made about the DualDisc format is that the DVD side may be a DVD audio/video hybrid so the high definition audio may only play on a DVD audio player rather than a DVD video player. For me this does not really matter as I am only interested in archiving/ripping the audio tracks to .flac rather than requiring audio playback features. On a PC, this is actually a straight forward task and details on how to do this can be found elsewhere on the internet.

Having said all that, there are some absolute bargains to be found on the web as prices tend to be cheap, if you know what you are looking for and know what is exactly contained on the discs. Two good examples that I managed to source through Amazon are Keane's 2004 Hopes and Fears and Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet both of which contain 24/96 PCM audio and were purchased for under £4 each which is a steal. I also managed to source an American import of Jamie Cullum's 2004 Twentysomething for under £10 complete with a 24/96 PCM audio track. Given that this album was recorded in analogue almost live in the studio with virtually no overdubs, the sound quality as expected is superb and the 24/96 format really allows the music to be heard at its best.

I will continue to research and source more of these discs especially as they offer far greater value than hard to source out of print dedicated DVD-audio discs which tend to fetch silly prices on the second hand market even though the two channel sound quality is usually the same, bar those DVD-audio discs which have 24/192 PCM audio.

This entry was posted on Friday July 2nd, 2010 at 8:00 AM and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are now closed.

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