Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger
PCM is all you need but the content owners are leary of giving away their studio masters on a format that is completely open to piracy. Consumer level tools do not exist to manipulate Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA streams, but virtually anyone can handle PCM.
Bluray content is already unlocked, now we just need to unlock the overbearing distribution model of Hifi audio. DVD-Audio and SACD were relevant during a time of dial-up internet, but no more.
Firstly, as to the comment on codecs, playback of TrueHD is capable via any multimedia player based on FFMpeg (90%) as Dolby publicly released this standard. For the moment, DTS-HD is not supported, but it should happen with Google's Summer of Code '09.
In short, there's no content security to be found within a codec, or even DRM for that matter.
A further reality is that BD-Audio simply wastes disc space, and the cost/distribution structure imposes significant restrictions on 'niche' releases.
An internet 'download' only model offers quicker time to market and more flexibility for small 'indy' releases by 'in-house' labels associated with orchestras (LSO, Chicago) and garage bands.
Given the cost of Bluray pressing and distribution, as well as the immature Bluray player market, I would not be surprised at all to see distribution via direct download using something like lossless PCM with FLAC compression. The authoring tools already exist, and PCM/FLAC actually yields a slightly smaller file size than DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD.
Here's a breakdown of file sizes.
I used Exact Audio Copy 3 to create 5 192/24 5.1 files based on Trondheim Solistene Divertimenti:
- PCM encoded to FLAC: 6,482,369 KBytes
- Dolby TrueHD FFMpeg decoded and re-encoded to FLAC: 6,482,367 KBytes
- DTS-MA Arcsoft decoded & re-encoded to FLAC: 6,482,355 KBytes
- 'Ripped' (demuxed) DTS-MA directly (no FLAC): 6,561,800 KBytes
- 'Ripped' (demuxed) Dolby-TrueHD directly (no FLAC): 6,951,385 KBytes
Note that otput FLAC files range from 100-500 Mbytes smaller than the 'native' DTS-MA and Dolby-TrueHD files. Audio information doesn't seem to be lost as all the FLAC files regardless of source are within 14 KBytes of each other.
What's DTS and Dolby doing with all those extra bits? It seems that's the overhead associated with the lossy 5.1 and Stereo channel encoding?
The math is conclusive: Bluray is not needed for Hifi audio distribution. 5.1 192/24 yields 6 GByte files, and that not only fits on a dual-layer DVD but is certainly also compatible with broadband internet distribution.
So why don't we have internet delivery of Hifi audio? Well, we do. There are limited releases of FLAC material via specialty websites, and there's also the thriving piracy scene. In my opinion, artists can best mitigate the latter by embracing the former.
I believe the piracy phenomena is based as much on giving a finger to the lawyers and oppressive record labels as it is on getting a free lunch. Personally, I extremely dislike giving mega-corporations and RIAA a cut of the money that simply funds further restrictions on media playback.
Simply put, why can't I use an XBMC frontend with an Iphone remote to surf Hifi surround sound audio - without breaking DRM laws? DRM locks people into using a lame 100-button remote, compromised audio, and loading/unloading discs. How 1990's is that compared to coverflow music selection and real-time in-depth artist info with internet links to new releases!
Currently, most of the record labels exist to simply repackage the same artists umpteen ways and gouge consumers rather than reward artistic creativity. How many people have paid for the same content in mp3, cd-audio, and dvd-video formats?
Sony will lose more money on Bluray. In the midst of a recession, their plan is that you can buy a BD-Audio machine and expensive new discs? Don't think so.
Give consumers a chance to buy directly over the internet and we will get a better product, the artists gets more $, and there's far less energy intensive packaging and distribution involved. How long can Sony et al fight that reality?
PCM/FLAC is at parity when it comes to file size and quality, and it offers far superior distribution. Video may be another story, but there's simply no business case for BD-Audio without significant arm-twisting on artists.
Try as they might, Sony et al will ultimately lose in their effort to control content by controlling the physical medium.