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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I noticed in recent days two bits of interesting information regarding digital outputting of DVD-Audio that might have a significant impact on players and processors. This may not be news, but it is to me. What I saw was that Firewire was recently adopted as the standard for digital outputting of DVD-A. I also saw where HDMI (which is a cousin of DVI) has released the it's 1.0 specification.


In the blurb about Firewire (IEEE1394), it said that Asian manufacturers should quickly move to including a Firewire output in their players. Of course, the preamp/processor manufacturers would need to change their product lines as well.


However, I've been desiring a universal DVD player with digital output capabilities, and it seems we are finally moving in that direction. I should mention that the above mentioned news does not mention SACD in any way. But how far behind can a similar announcement be?


I would welcome any additional information and/or corrections to my post, but definitely see this as a positive step for both high def audio and video (HDMI appears to be the leading candidate for HDTV). Of course, this step will cost me money in upgrading my player, processor, and TV, but that's life.
 

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The latest issue of Twice magazine www.twice.com

has a front page article about HDMI.


Conceptual products will be shown at CES but products themselves will be out they're saying in late 2003-early 2004.


Anthony
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ron, sorry, you're right about the Pioneer combo, but the price of entry just to have that ability is pretty steep and they will only work with each other. I believe, or at least hope, that once everything settles down, these connections will be as commonplace as component cables with the commensurate drop in pricing.
 

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Quote:
but the price of entry just to have that ability

is pretty steep...
There's no doubt that 1394 digital audio will be targeted

at high-end players and receivers for the current generation

of products. By selling into the high-end (high profit

margin) market at first, manufacturers get to recoup some

of their R&D expense. In other words, the early "gotta

have it" adopters foot the R&D bill.


However, the end product cost of adding a 1394 digital

audio interface doesn't seem very high. The MSRP and street

price for the DV-47A (without 1394) and DV-47Ai (with

1394) is pretty much the same. There's no pricing

available on the TI website for the TSB43CA43 (the chip

used in the DV-47Ai) yet, but I'll guess it will be

around $10-$15 in 1000 unit quantities.


Anyways, it will be interesting to see how things pan

out. IMHO, the main barrier to the acceptance of 1394

by manufacturers is difficulty of implementation. 1394

digital audio is a big chunk of quite complex software

to add to your product. For the Japanese companies that

already have 1394 experience from their DV camera product

lines, it's not as bad. For boutique audio companies

that are starting at square one on 1394, the development

of a 1394 digital audio interface may well be beyond

their capabilities.


Ron
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by dr1394
Anyways, it will be interesting to see how things pan

out. IMHO, the main barrier to the acceptance of 1394

by manufacturers is difficulty of implementation. 1394

digital audio is a big chunk of quite complex software

to add to your product. For the Japanese companies that

already have 1394 experience from their DV camera product

lines, it's not as bad. For boutique audio companies

that are starting at square one on 1394, the development

of a 1394 digital audio interface may well be beyond

their capabilities.
I'm not sure I agree. The easiest way for a smaller manufacturer to get familiar with Firewire is to buy a Mac. Since Apple invented Firewire, the implementation on Macs is the logical place to start. All Macs currently sold have them, so you don't need a top-of-the-line G4 tower in order to play. Add to your cost a membership to Apple's developer program to get access to all the information you need about programing to it, and you are on your way. This includes the Firewire Reference Program which specifically is tailored to help companies develop embedded firewire devices. http://developer.apple.com/firewire/platform.html Combine that with information from Firewire chipmaker Texas Instruments and it should be enough to get a company's engineering staff moving.


It's good we're finally at the point where we're likely to see a lot of Firewire capable home theater devices at the next CES. It's way overdue, no thanks to the MPAA and the RIAA. Firewire has been around for a long time and is a proven technology with decided advantages for use in home theatre and music applications (isochronous communication is a biggie).


The other nice thing about Firewire is that it can pretty much handle as aspects of control between devices. This can be as simple as something like JVC's AVCompulink, to sophisticated systems like Crestron. Unlike USB, you don't need a central PC-style hub running the show, so any devices on the daisy-chained bus can make an indepedant request to another device. Manufacturers who include RS-232 ports or USB ports on their devices for software upgrades or control systems can delete them and use Firewire instead. Can you imagine buying plugging in an Apple iPod or similar MP3 player to your HT system, having it recognize your DVD/CD player and asking it to rip songs to it, all while keeping digital rights management? The future possibilities are endless.


On a side note, I used to work for Apple 12 years ago. Shortly after I left, an old former collegue showed me a prototype technology they were working on. It was Firewire and that was over 10 years ago. It took another 5 years for it to come to market, but it looks like it will finally its due in the wider marketplace. Like most recent innovations (DVD-Audio, SACD, progressive), it'll probably be in the high end home theatre gear first, but hopefully it won't stay in the high end for long.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks guys for the info on Firewire. I think we will see Firewire in DVD players being commonplace within a year. I don't think it will be limited to just the high end players either. The big Japanese A/V manufacturers will and have already led the charge so others will soon follow.


Remember, the reason Firewire or other digital connection devices were not incorporated earlier had to do with fear of piracy by the studios. Or at least that's the arguement they put forth. It wasn't a technological barrier. What I don't know, is what exactly changed. I never heard WG4 announce anything regarding a change in copy protection.


I haven't had enough coffee yet, but is there copy protection with Firewire?


Oh well, we are at least moving in the right direction. It will be interesting to see what's announced next month at the show and when it will be available. I've lost my link to the show. Can someone recommend who will provide the best coverage of next month's show?


Thanks,
 

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The barrier has never been technological. It's all been about politics and licensing. The politics of course, is all about Digital Rights Management, and has held up adoption of any standard for a couple of years. The licensing issues centered around Firewire. At first, Apple wanted $1 a port royalty on all Firewire devices, but due to extreme pressure from the PC industry, that was scaled back to 25 cents per port. Speaking of which, although Firewire has been on PCs for awhile, USB 2.0 has more momentum these days since Intel gives the standard away free, and is backward compatible with USB 1.0/1.1. But USB in any form still never made sense for AV applications, which is why that it was never seriously considered.


Firewire will soon be released in 800 Mbit form and higher, which should give us plenty of bandwidth for the foreseable future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
What do you think will be the use of HDMI? It appears that Firewire is fine for high def audio, but can't handle HDTV bandwidth. HDMI could also handle the audio side so it would seem that it would have been a good choice since you would need only one type of connector for both audio and video. Am I correct in my assumptions?


BTW, what exactly happened to allow Firewire to get past the political bickering? I knew it was never technological, but I also don't remember reading about a solution to appease the record companies either.


Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ralittle2
It appears that Firewire is fine for high def audio, but can't handle HDTV bandwidth. Thanks.
The above is completely false. All HDTV source material is transmitted via a compressed signal. Firewire handles it just fine. There is no need for transmitting HDTV uncompressed since it is already compressed from the start. How do you think HDTV is being recorded on the D-VHS recorders?:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by kippjones
The above is completely false. All HDTV source material is transmitted via a compressed signal. Firewire handles it just fine. There is no need for transmitting HDTV uncompressed since it is already compressed from the start. How do you think HDTV is being recorded on the D-VHS recorders?:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
What about HDTV transmissions over the air? No need to get snippy Mr. Rolleyes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Look Kipp, I made no claim. I was asking a question (that's what questions marks denote). I don't claim to be familiar with all the ins and outs of the technology, but I do wish to be informed.


However, I have heard talk of transmission of HD material that is uncompressed. I'm not sure of the details, but I simply want to make sure that when it comes time to replace my current equipment that I am making an informed purchase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

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Quote:
Originally posted by ralittle2
What do you think will be the use of HDMI? It appears that Firewire is fine for high def audio, but can't handle HDTV bandwidth. HDMI could also handle the audio side so it would seem that it would have been a good choice since you would need only one type of connector for both audio and video. Am I correct in my assumptions?


BTW, what exactly happened to allow Firewire to get past the political bickering? I knew it was never technological, but I also don't remember reading about a solution to appease the record companies either.
FireWire can handle HDTV in its compressed form, as broadcast, quite easily. One of the nicest things about 1394 is its ability to carry all sort of data, including control information, in both directions. Widespread adoption could open the way to systems that are much easier to connect and configure than what we have today.


The basic encryption/copy protection issues actually were resolved a couple of years ago. I'm not sure what the holdup was after that--perhaps arguments about whether 1394 should be used or somebody else's proprietary scheme or something else entirely. Probably the second, since companies now see licensing of such things as the stairway to financial heaven.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ralittle2
However, I have heard talk of transmission of HD material that is uncompressed. I'm not sure of the details, but I simply want to make sure that when it comes time to replace my current equipment that I am making an informed purchase.
Broadcast HDTV is highly compressed using MPEG-2; it would be completely impractical otherwise. Confusion sometimes arises because of debates over whether cable operators should be allowed to compress these signals further, which can lead to the compressed original being referred to as uncompressed and the even more compressed version simply as compressed.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ralittle2
Since Firewire has been adopted as the digital transmission method for DVD-A, does that preclude other methods of transmitting DVD-A digitally? It sure seems like it, but I just wanted to be sure.
Not exactly. Any other method would have to be approved by the DVD Forum, however. This has already occurred for the proprietary Meridian and Denon systems, but I doubt anyone else will apply or that any further methods will be approved. Denon will abandon its own method in favor of FireWire, which will leave just the latter and Meridian's system, which I expect Meridian will maintain because Stuart doesn't like 1394 as an audio conduit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks MDRiggs for straightening me out. I know that HD-DVD is still a ways out, but what are we talking about with regard to throughput and capabilities of both Firewire and HDMI?


Thx,
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Aside from political reasons, why would they(WG4) adopt one standard for audio, and it looks like they'll be adopting another for video (HDMI). Why not have one type of connection. Or is that too simple?
 

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One of the big problems was that there was no 1394

Link Layer Controller that had the correct implementation

of the 5C/DTCP scrambler/descrambler. Most 5C/DTCP LLC's

(including TI's previous 5C/DTCP LLC) could scramble MPEG-2,

DSS and DV bitstreams, but not audio bitstreams. This is

due to the fact that 1394 audio uses a short 8-byte cipher

length (because 1394 audio packets are not fixed size),

whereas MPEG-2 uses a 188-byte cipher length (140 bytes

for DSS and 480 bytes for DV although I've never seen

scrambled DV from any device).


The TI TSB43CB43A (used in the Pioneer stuff) implements

the 8-byte cipher length plus some other goodies like

support for an external audio PLL and an on-chip CPU

that offloads the host CPU with key exchange acceleration

(the 5C key exchange math is quite intensive).


Although there may have been political issues, I'd

say the delay to a 1394 digital audio interface was

mostly just design cycle and time to market.


Ron
 
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