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Weekly AUDIO NEWS for August 20, 2003

Petition for Hi-Res Audio for HD-DVD - “Don’t Settle for Low-Bitrate Audio/Video” is the battle cry of over 1900 people who have already signed the online petition addressed to the DVD Forum, movie studios, CEMA and related organizations. The concerns are that the industry currently proposes a compromised low-bandwidth system for the new high-definition DVD format, such as using a modded version of the present red laser instead of the much-wider-bandwidth Blu-Ray laser. And also that nearly all of the greatly increased storage capacity would be used for video, leaving only enough space for an already-dated lossy audio system such as the present Dolby Digital.

Among specific suggestions of the petition are that all filmic sources be stored, without pre-filtering, as 1080 progressive 24 bit from the start and only the original video sources stored as 1080 interlaced. In order for HD-DVD to have a significant improvement in audio quality, an improved audio compression algorithm should be used to yield greater accuracy with the larger bandwidth. MLP - as used in DVD-Audio, or DSD - as used in multichannel SACD, are the two most likely possibilities. An interesting secondary request of the petition is that the present graphically-based system of displaying subtitles be dropped in favor of a true-text-based system. This would allow not only the font, size and color to be selected during playback, but even the location of the subtitles - such as in the border areas above or below letterbox films, or even on a separate smaller monitor just for supertitles. The “Consumer Expectations of HD-DVD Petition” was written by Christian Artman for “electronics consumers and movie lovers of the world,” and is at www.petitiononline.com/cehddvd/petition.html

Deaths of Two Figures in Music and Audio - Composer Luciano Berio, one of the leading figures in contemporary music, died recently. He is known for his serial, tape and electronic music works and for his influence on modern music via his teaching such composers as Steve Reich and Louis Andreissen. Amplifier pioneer David Hafler also passed away. His company had recently produced only for the professional audio field. In the 1960s he introduced the Hafler system for creating a surround soundfield from only the L - R information found in any stereo recording, with only one or two speakers and no additional amp required.

Subwoofer Setup Tip - Thiel Audio has recommended that a sound-level meter (such as the Radio Shack) and pink noise should *not* be used to set the .1 LFE level of any subwoofer, including their own. This is because the readings are dependent not only on the sound level but also on the bandwidth measured. A main speaker with an 8-octave bandwidth will give a meter reading 9 dB higher than a sub playing at the same level but with a bandwidth of only 1 octave. They suggest instead using your own ears and a soundtrack with some sub frequencies in it. For the most accurate results a 1/2 or 1/3-octave realtime analyzer can be used with pink noise sources.

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