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Chapter 13. Mixing Surround > Surround Delivery Formats

Surround Delivery Formats

After you're created a surround mix, you need some way to get it to people. A stereo mix can easily go to a CD, tape, or MP3, but surround mixes are different creatures. Luckily, DVD players are ubiquitous, so most people have at least some ability to play back surround mixes if they have a home theater. Here are some of the options for getting your surround mix out to the public:

  • DVD Audio, or DVD-A discs, are DVDs in which the full storage capacity of the DVD is used just for audio. DVD-A has the most options for the creator: you can have a super-high-bandwidth stereo mix, 24-bit full bandwidth 5.1, or a combination of both. The downside is that very few DVD players can play DVD-A, so fewer people will be able to listen to your discs.

  • Super Audio CD, or SACD, is a proprietary format by Sony/Phillips, the people who first created the CD itself. SACDs are audio-only discs that, once again, have a wide range of options for either high-bandwidth stereo or surround mixes. The downside of SACDs is that, like DVD-A discs, relatively few players can read them. Also, there is no easy, inexpensive way to create one, so if you want to make an SACD, you'll have to take it to a specialized production facility.

  • Video DVD, of course, can play back a surround mix just fine. Most DVD authoring suites include the ability to add Dolby Digital surround to the video. Dolby Digital is a good-sounding, compressed format with a very large market share. Almost every DVD player can decode a Dolby Digital DVD, so you can use blank video along with your audio information.

  • Finally, you can make a DTS CD of your surround mix. DTS is a competitor of Dolby Digital and is generally considered to be a better-quality compressed delivery format. Because it's compressed, you can fit a surround mix on a normal-capacity CD, and if you have a DVD player that can decode a DTS data stream, your surround mix will sound fine.


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