A hybrid dual-layer version of DVD-Audio (DVD-A) that can play on both CD and DVD hardware is expected to hit the market in the next six months.

A hybrid dual-layer version of DVD-Audio (DVD-A) that can play on both CD and DVD hardware is expected to hit the market in the next six months, sources tell Billboard Bulletin. The move should help spur consumer adoption of the burgeoning format.

The hybrid discs would operate in essentially the same way as dual-layer discs from rival format Super Audio CD (SACD), according to those familiar with the situation. SACDs are forward- and backward-compatible, allowing for playback of the format's high-resolution audio and enhanced features on both dedicated devices and standard CD players.

The move toward a DVD-A hybrid comes as a consortium of labels and technology companies -- most notably Warner Music Group (WMG), EMI Recorded Music, and BMG Entertainment -- are stepping up education efforts about the product. DVD-A supporters are attempting to position the format as a mass-market product, rather than merely an audiophile experience.

In a presentation at the National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM) conference yesterday (March 19) in Orlando, Fla., executives from WMG, EMI, and other labels were pushing for retailers to embrace the new format. There are currently 500 DVD-A titles on the market, with distribution in 1,500 U.S. retail outlets.

In a discussion that accompanied the presentation, DVD-A advocates, including David Dorn, senior VP of media for Warner Strategic Marketing, noted that a shift to a new format is needed in part because consumers no longer see value in the CD. Retail and label executives acknowledged that DVD-A offers a better value proposition, with its ability to carry pictures, videos, lyrics, and downloadable portable music files all on one disc. The challenge, they said, is in creating consumer awareness for the product and building off the installed base of DVD hardware.

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