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Panasonic Announces Delivery Plans for World's First DVD-Audio/Video Players Built to DVD-Audio Specification

Next Generation of Spectacular Sound for the Home to Arrive in October

SECAUCUS, N.J., July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company (PCEC), the first company to show DVD-Audio players in the United States earlier this year, affirms its commitment to this new and exciting audio medium by being the first to announce delivery timing and suggested pricing for two models, the Panasonic-brand DVD-A7 and the Technics DVD-A10.

Beginning this October, both models will be shipped to dealers nationwide. The Panasonic DVD-A7 has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $999.95. The Technics DVD-A10 carries a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $1,199.95.

These next generation audio players can be easily incorporated into your home entertainment system. But while the players will accept and play conventional CDs, future DVD-Audio discs will be reproduced with far greater fidelity then presently available. And DVD-Audio is capable of much more. Attached to a home entertainment's television or projection TV, a DVD-Audio player can also reproduce video: graphics, text, music videos, and more can be shown. Additionally, since the player is compatible with DVD Video discs, your favorite DVD movies can be played as well -- along with up to 5.1 channels of Dolby Digital® and dts(TM) multi-channel sound.

Want more? Future DVD-Audio discs could even contain URL addresses for instant access to relevant Web sites as you listen -- or watch -- a DVD-Audio disc.

"DVD-Audio not only far exceeds the audio quality of conventional CD reproduction, but provides new enhancements that can combine listening with a truly interactive experience," says Gene Kelsey, vice president and general manager of Panasonic's Audio Group. "A DVD-Audio/Video player will be the cornerstone component of all home entertainment systems of the near future."

The true acceptance of a new audio format means equal enthusiasm from the software industry as well. And that is already happening. "Universal Music Group is looking forward to supporting the first new audiophile standard since the introduction of CDs almost twenty years ago," says Lisa Farris, vice president of marketing for Universal Music Group - eCAT. "By providing recording artists with an expanded aural palette, DVD-Audio's better than CD quality stereo and multi-channel surround sound showcases a whole new listening experience for the consumer. Universal Music Group is preparing releases from a wide range of artists covering every genre in conjunction with launch of the DVD-Audio player."

Conforming to the newly established DVD-Audio standard, and containing an encryption system to prevent unauthorized disc duplication, DVD-Audio takes advantage of the digital technology originally developed for DVD-Video. It uses the advanced format's vast data storage potential to deliver astounding sound enriched with the nuance, warmth and subtle overtones of a live musical performance.

To accomplish this, 2-channel DVD-Audio uses a sampling frequency of 192kHz -- more than four times that of CD -- to extend the playback high-frequency response to an incredible 96kHz. The higher frequency reproduction gives live instruments their timbre or resonance, which is often lost on a compact disc. The crash of cymbals, for instance, produces frequencies well above 20kHz -- inaudible to the ear but important to retaining the instrument's distinct expression and the integrity of the music.

In addition, a new Digital-To-Analog Converter (DAC), based on MASH* technology and refined by Matsushita for 192kHz/24-bit DVD-Audio use, gives these players the ability to distinguish levels of sound using 24-bit quantization (vs. 16-bit maximum for CD). This reduces background noise to imperceptible levels. The new DAC is also combined with a DIGITAL RE-MASTER PROCESSING circuit, which uses audio dithering techniques to increase the frequency response and dynamic range of conventional CDs as well.

DVD-Audio is fully multi-channel sound compatible and uses PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) for all channels, presenting a new level of multi-channel sound quality, unprecedented realism in ambience reproduction, and the potential to create radically different sound spaces. Incorporating both Dolby Digital and dts decoders, the players can decode music and soundtracks recorded in up to 5.1 channels (including a subwoofer) to give listeners the ambience and enveloping effect of a live performance.

Also like its video cousin, DVD-Audio is capable of single- or dual-layer capacity on one or both disc sides. At its highest rate (192kHz/24-bit 2-channel PCM), the format can store 74 minutes of music on a single-side of a single-layer disc. At lower recorded rates, that figure can balloon to 400 minutes -- or more than 6-1/2 hours of music at CD equivalent quality. Additionally, the format uses a technique called Lossless Coding, which is a compression system that removes redundancies in the audio signal to enhance recording capacity and enable virtually perfect reconstruction of the original signal. Using Lossless Coding, up to 74 minutes of 96kHz/24-bit/6 channel recordings can be squeezed onto one side of the DVD-Audio disc. An 8 cm disc is also an option for music singles or other short programs.

The extensive storage space not only permits extended-range audio, but full MPEG-2 video, still images, and text as well to fuse pictures and sounds into a new world of entertainment interactivity. When connected to a television or computer monitor for example, and depending on disc content, DVD-Audio players allow "listeners" to watch music videos with unparalleled audio and DVD-quality video, view "photo albums" of band members, or read track titles, song lyrics and liner notes on the screen. Internet URL addresses embedded in the disc can also link listeners directly to relevant Web sites when the player is connected to a PC. And, visual menus can help users easily navigate all the offerings on a disc.

While the Panasonic DVD-A7 provides extraordinary audio and video quality, the Technics DVD-A10 is a step above and designed to address the needs of discriminating audiophiles. For example, to complete an uncompromising design, the audio power supply in the DVD-A10 incorporates a system called Advanced Virtual Battery Operation. Using a capacitor to supply its charged power to the audio reproduction circuitry, the technique simulates a battery (pure source of DC current) to virtually eliminate power supply "noise" for faithful reproduction of even the smallest signal information. Additionally, an R-Core transformer, which has a rounded shape to help minimize leakage flux and noise, replaces the conventional transformers with their squared-off corners and uneven flux patterns. And TA-KE II electrolytic capacitors are used throughout for better mid-high frequency response with lower distortion. Even the cabinetry is impressive: a sleek champagne gold component with a special vibration damping base.

"DVD-Audio is about to unleash an entirely new revolution in what we now simply call home audio," says Kelsey. "It will be an attack on both our aural and visual senses, taking the performer yet another giant step closer into our living rooms."

Panasonic and Technics consumer electronics products are marketed in the United States by Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company (PCEC), a division of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America (MECA). MECA is the principal North American subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., of Japan, one of the world's largest producers of electronic and electric products and a key developer of technology for DVD, mobile DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM and DVD Audio. Prices are in U.S. currency. (Consumers seeking more information on the company's products can call Panasonic's Customer Call Center at 800-211-PANA or access Panasonic's home page at or Media interested in Panasonic or Technics press releases can gain information via the Panasonic Web site or through New Directions Public Relations' toll-free fax-back system at 888-734-7490.)

    Specifications and design subject to change without notice.

    * Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., incorporates MASH
      (multi-stage noise shaping technology) in its products under technical
      license from NTT.

    Dolby Digital is a trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation.
    dts is a trademark of Digital theater Systems, Inc.

SOURCE: Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company

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