Dualdisc – Yet Another Disc Format

The big four record labels have decided that the way to sell more is to launch a new format – and here it comes, DualDisc. EMI, Song BMG, Universal Music and Warner Music have been quietly scheming away to produce the new format, which, as its name suggests, is a CD – DVD hybrid.

Playable on just about any drive that can play either CDs or DVDs, the DVD partition of the disk can contain extras like videos, interviews and photo galleries. How does it work? It’s really not that sophisticated – it’s just a double-sided disc with a CD substrate on one side and a DVD substrate on the other. As the format has been approved by the DVD forum, it will be allowed to carry the DVD logo.

DVD-Audio and SACD have not been very successful, and this is an attempt to recapture a lost market.

CDs are about 1.2mm thick – the new format can be about 1.5mm thick, which may cause it to jam in some players, though it is still within the upper limit for the CD standard.

The key advantage for audiophiles is that music quality is preserved. Extras on CDs tend to eat into the amount of space available for storing music, so bit rates can suffer on longer discs. Better still, listeners can enjoy DVD-A quality encoding on the DVD side at home whilst using the CD side in their cars and personal stereos. Perhaps it’s not so evil after all.

The first titles will include albums from Five for Fighting, Audioslave and Dave Brubeck. Sorry, who are these things aimed at again?

“We are delighted to be offering the first in a series of DualDisc titles,” stated Doug Morris, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. “By combining music, video, interactivity and portability in a single disc, DualDisc will add an exciting new dimension to the consumer’s musical experience.”

“Dual Disc opens a new, exciting creative dimension for artists to express themselves and connect with fans. It’s an entertainment-packed product and is a big step in our effort to give fans music whenever, however and wherever they want it,” said David Munns, Chairman and CEO EMI Music North America.

DVD Plus International, a German company, is claiming ownership of a patent relating to a dual-format DVD, called, predictably, DVD Plus. Since Dualdisc is set for an October launch, they had better sort that one out pretty sharpish.

DualDisc – coming soon

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?