To prevent people from making digital copies, both DVD-Audio and SACD players deliver only analog audio signals over six discrete channels, which means using six cables, a DB-25 computer cable, or a cable with a DB-25 connector at one end and six RCA plugs on the other. Therefore, your receiver or preamp must have a six-channel analog audio input to accommodate the high-resolution feed.
Somewhere down the road, you can expect to see a variety of affordable players that can handle multichannel DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, and SACDs. In the meantime, buying a DVD-Video player that can also play either DVD-Audio or SACD discs is a good way to check out audio's future.
If you really want to be the first on your block with the coolest toy, consider a DVD recorder. These decks burn MPEG-2 digital video along with two-channel Dolby Digital audio onto 4.7- or 9.4-gigabyte (GB) discs. The 9.4-GB discs can hold up to 9 hours of program material at the lowest quality level.
Recordable DVDs use either the write-once DVD-R format, which is playable in many if not all DVD-Video players, or in one of three different rewritable formats - DVD-RAM, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW. At press time, five standalone DVD recorders had been announced or were are on the market, including the Panasonic DMR-E20 (DVD-R and DVD-RAM, reviewed in the October issue).
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