It Is! It Isn't! It Will Be! (3/24/04)

Aha, we knew it was a good idea to sit on that whole AAC-for-DVD-Audio thing for a day or so! See, faithful viewer dave sent us over to The Register, who reported yesterday that the DVD Forum (the group of bigwigs who determine the standards for those shiny circular things on which you folks are apparently buying copies of cinematic masterpieces such as Femalien and Sadomania) had chosen AAC as the official low-res audio format for DVD-Audio discs. AAC, as we're sure you're aware, is the Dolby-licensed digital audio format that Apple uses for the iTunes Music Store, and which every other store claims is going to go down in flames because they all use Windows Media Audio instead. Of course, Apple sells something like twice as many songs as the rest of them all put together, so we're not entirely sure about the basis of the threat, but whatever.

Anyway, the Reg report quotes a story at High Fidelity Review, which claims that the DVD Forum Working Group picked AAC over WMA, MP3, and Sony's ATRAC for "a number of reasons," but mostly because it "sounded much better than the others." So AAC becoming the official DVD-Audio format would be a big credibility win for Apple, and might get some of the other stores thinking about offering protected AAC songs alongside-- or even instead of-- their current WMA versions. Indeed, if Apple winds up licensing its FairPlay DRM system to stores, the switch would be a no-brainer, since it would allow them to sell songs playable on all those iPods floating around out there. There's just one teensy little problem: apparently the AAC announcement was a tad premature.

See, according to Macworld UK, the DVD Forum is officially denying that the AAC reports are true. The precise quote is "the voting subject of 'Adoption of the mandatory audio codec MPEG-4 HE AAC' for the optional specifications for DVD-audio (ROM zone) was not approved." The confusion appears to have arisen due to some inaccurate minutes for a meeting last February, which, when posted, did in fact report that AAC had been chosen, but they've since been corrected. Whoopsie.

Don't despair just yet, however; The Register now reports that High Fidelity Review has clarified its position, which is that the DVD Forum's Working Group has, indeed, selected AAC as the best-sounding of all the proposed formats, and that it wasn't officially approved only because "negotiations between license holders, developers and the Forum are still underway," and not because the Forum has rejected it in favor of a different format. The official adoption of the AAC standard by the Steering Committee is therefore expected "in due course," and High Fidelity Review claims that the outcome is "a done deal."

Which means we could have told you about the whole thing yesterday after all, since the "yes" only turned into a "no" for a short time before turning back into a "yes" again. But hey, isn't it more fun to hear everyone make all these denials?

SceneLink (4590)
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The above scene was taken from the 3/24/04 episode:

March 24, 2004: Now new Power Macs are sliding into April, June, or even July, while rumors of new eMacs, iMacs, and PowerBooks fall all over the calendar. Meanwhile, AAC as the DVD-Audio format is in, out, and in again, and Microsoft gets walloped by Europe for antitrust violations-- enjoy it while it lasts...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 4589: We Need CLOSURE, Already (3/24/04)   It's official, people: predictions of when new Mac hardware will arrive are now all over the freakin' map. On the Power Mac front, right now the consensus in the rumor mill appears to be abandoning the March 26th-ish theory in favor of Mac OS Rumors's long-posited prediction that an unveiling at or just prior to NAB is far more likely...

  • 4591: Enjoy It While It Lasts (3/24/04)   Okay, we know it technically isn't Friday yet, but what with Microsoft having been smacked down something fierce over there in Europe, we really can't wait another couple of days to gloat. Besides, what with our recent late broadcasts and the mind-bending effects of time zone differences, it must be Friday somewhere, right?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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