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How to create DVD-A discs.

Q: “I want to burn DVD-A discs of my project. Can I buy a Dolby Digital Surround Sound encoder and burn them with Toast? How do I do it?”

A: The high-resolution audio portion of DVD-A discs (which I presume you are referring to) is in an entirely different format than your typical DVD video disc, and as such requires special software to create. You cannot create a true DVD-A disc using software that only encodes standard Dolby Digital formats such as AC-3, etc. You can create multi-channel DVD video discs that contain only audio information in this format, and they will play on any standard DVD player.

There are several packages available that will enable you to create DVD-A discs on a PC. A couple that come to mind are two versions of discWelder, which is made by Minnetonka Audio Software. DiscWelder Chrome is also capable of working with proprietary MLP (Meridian Lossless Packing) files, which are created with a special program. MLP provides a way to reduce the file sizes of audio files without audio degradation (other formats such as AC-3 are all “lossy” formats, meaning some audio degradation can occur). This is required for very high-resolution multi-channel audio files in order to be able to stay within the bandwidth limitations of DVD media. The MLP software encoder (currently $2500 – Windows only) is available directly from Meridian.

Regardless of whether you encode for DVD-A or standard DVD the process is roughly the same. You must first create discrete audio files for each desired channel of audio in your workstation. For example, if you wanted to do a typical 5.1 mix you’d create six files: Left Front, Center, Right Front, Left Rear, Right Rear, and LFE. These files are then loaded into an encoder that combines them into one file that can then be burned to disc in the desired format. The specifics of each method will of course depend on the software you decide to use.

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