TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- DVD audio is not a synonym for "fad," say backers of the new sound system, and its appearance in a luxury vehicle as a standard feature this year will only drive sales.
"The car is the perfect environment for this," said Elliot Scheiner, a Grammy-winning recording engineer who has teamed with Panasonic Automotive Systems Co. on its ELS Surround Sound system, which debuts on the 2004 Acura TL sedan in October. "You don't have the issue of how people are going to set up the speakers. It's an enclosed space.
"It's the car that determines how we deliver the music. All the marketing research says that when people are asked where do you listen to music more, in your home or in your car, the answer is the car."
Compact discs were an improvement over cassette tape players in cars, but DVD audio is poised to take the digital revolution further. It is specifically designed for the multi-speaker, surround-sound systems coming of age in homes and cars, said Tom Dunn, business manager of marketing and new business development for Panasonic.
Panasonic expects to make announcements soon on other cars adopting DVD audio systems, he said. Scheiner and other engineers, taking advantage of the advanced technology embedded in the discs, can isolate specific sounds to place an echo from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in a rear speaker or make it possible to discern individual guitars out of the orchestra of 16 in the Eagles' "Hotel California."
"You're maximizing the equipment that is available out there," Scheiner said.
It is like when stereo systems first came on the market, he said, and music fans could hear the sound bounce from side to side. But now there are six channels. Most upscale cars have multiple speakers, Dunn said, with placement of a center channel speaker standing as the biggest hurdle in the auto interior.
DVD units also can play CDs, although music fans may want to seek out upgraded recordings to get the full impact.