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CODE Format?

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Hey guys - I just ran across this interesting bit of information. The newest John Mellencamp release Life, Death, Love and Freedom will be release in the ???? (CODE) format in addition to CD. Having never heard of this format before I looked around but failed to find much about it. Of course there is a little bit on Wikipedia that says this:


"...the ???? (CODE) format. T Bone Burnett and his team of engineers developed CODE, a proprietary audio technology that creates high-definition audio files that are virtually indistinguishable from the original master tapes. The CODE version of "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" is a DVD that will come packaged with a standard CD version of the album, available at all retail outlets, at no additional cost to the consumer. The CODE disc is playable on virtually all DVD machines including stand-alone players and drives integrated into computer systems. The DVD's content can be copied into most computer music software including iTunes and can, then, be downloaded onto personal music players such as the iPod..."


Link to Wikipedia article.


Anyone have other information about this? I hope it good :-)


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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... to be void of any other reference to this. The only things I am able to find so far are directly related to either T-Bone or the upcoming Mellencamp release. Interesting. I wonder if the Patent office has a submission pending approval. Gotta HEAR this!




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  • 3 months later...

Haven't been around here for a while, but this would seem to be the right place to discuss this. The net seems to be short on details. My thinking is that the format has potential IF:


1. It is open so "Mom and Pop" can publish with it.

2. It supports mutiple channels.

3. It is totally transparent to the user.


It is obvious they did not invent 24/96 PCM so my assumption is that they've found a way to fool the DVD player into thinking it is a DVD. Whether that can be copyrighted or not is a legal rather than technical issue.


There is great promise here. SACD and DVD-A languish because the violate 1 and 3 above. This one could make it even if it violates number 2, though I rather doubt it and it will have to be compliant with 1 and 3 to have any chance. If all compliant with all three it will succeed, IMHO.


If anyone finds any technical specs I'd love to see them.




\"If it sounds good, it IS good.\" Duke Ellington

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  • 7 months later...

Well, it does what it says on the box.


I just bought the John Mellencamp CD and it comes with a second disc containing the album as a bunch of 24/96 wav files. Just drop 'em into itunes. I do hope this is the first of many, it sure beats ripping LP's. Anyone aware of other releases?


- John.




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First of all, a short snippet from Wikipedia:


???? (or Code) is a brand name for the high-fidelity audio DVD-Video disc developed by Grammy Award-winning record producer T-Bone Burnett. [...] A Code disc is a DVD-Video disc with standard 24-bit/96kHz PCM audio, and is played from a DVD player or a DVD-ROM drive. The disc also includes files in 24-bit/96 kHz WAV, AAC, and MP3 formats for use on personal computers and portable media players.


I have the Mellencamp disc, which still seems to be the only disc in T-Bone's CODE "format" on the market at the time of this writing.


Notice what I put in boldface. Comments regarding those items:


CODE is mostly clever marketing (if it catches on, natch). I did read an interview with T-Bone in which he stated that they've also applied for some patents, but either that was hogwash, or the "patents" are about some sort of authoring system that gets fed some 24/96 LPCM "studio master" audio files, plus some image files for menus and such, and then authors the complete disc from it. Nothing wrong with convenience, but nothing really earthshakingly new, either.


The DVD itself is not a DVD-A disk. The AUDIO_TS folder is empty. It's basically a standard DVD-Video disk with an extra "files" folder that contains all the album's tracks as 24/96 LPCM WAV files, (lossy) AAC files (48kHz), and 256 kbps MP3 files (also 48kHz). A nice convenience, to be sure, that one can simply drag and drop those into one's music library on the computer.


The DVD loads and plays in a standard DVD-Video player (I opened it without problems in VLC, he-he!). A peek at the audio stream info in VLC reveals that the audio of the DVD-Video portion is most likely the same 24/96 LPCM stuff that can also be found in the "files" folder (judging by the bitrate which is around 6 mbps for all streams combined).


They are not "violating" the DVD-Video specification with this, or "tricking the player somehow", either. It's DVD-Video standard-compliant.


Another snippet from Wikipedia:

The audio data on a DVD movie can be [...] PCM: 48 kHz or 96 kHz sampling rate, 16 bit or 24 bit L-PCM, 2 to 6 channels, up to 6144 kbit/s. N.B. 16-bit 48kHz 8 channel PCM is allowed by the DVD-Video specification but is not well-supported by authoring applications or players.


Hope this has helped to shed some light on the "mysterious CODE"... (Not so mysterious, after all, huh?)


P.S. I had been thinking along very similar lines when I was pondering a possible future for HD audio on disk, long before I ever heard of "CODE", but my approach goes even farther than what T-Bone has released with the Mellencamp disk. I'll elaborate more in a separate post...


I was originally inspired by how Alan Parsons went about it on his "A Valid Path" DualDisk. On the DVD side of that one, in addition to the 5.1 material, there's also a folder with the audio files in a lower-res format (for portable audio players etc.), called "assets" on that disk. (I don't recall what exact format the 5.1 material is in, but I can play it in my computer's DVD drive, so it can't be DVD-Audio, as I've never had a DVD-Audio software player... and have never heard of one... well, except for that Creative thingie that only works with those abominal Audigy cards. Have I missed something? Are there any DVD-Audio software players out there? If so... let me know!)


Please: no beverage consumption while reading my posts. I won\'t clean your monitor.

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Hey TwoRocks - Welcome to Computer Audiophile!


... thanks for reopening this thread. I had forgotten about the thread, though I pre-ordered the album and received it before the general release date. I quickly opened it, dropped the 24/96 files into iTunes, ejected the DVD and went on about my business of listening - forgetting about the 'mystery'. So today after seeing this (right now) I slipped the DVD into the MacBook Pro and sure enough, if you wait, it will just start the audio playback. I let DVD Player open it , so am not looking at the data stream. *BTW: I don't have a software DVDA player and don't know of one either.* It is great sounding this way! Nice graphic display of the tracks (menu) comes up and you can click on the song title to play that song. - So you are saying that Alan Parson's release A Valid Path, works this way on the DVD sort of the same as this one? I didn't realize that. I'd only heard it at a friends house & we played the CD because he didn't have a decent sound system hooked up to his DVD player.


I think I agree with Mallette's (Dave) thoughts on the possibilities for success for this format - by the way, I totally missed Dave's post on this back in August or would have pursued the 'mystery' of this release sooner. It does meet the 'transparent to the end user' goal. It should also, as you point out, be able to handle up to 6 channels. It is still, almost a year after the original release now, not completely clear if the other point he makes can be easily met: "Open so that mom and pop can publish with it". I think I know how I could produce one of these type discs right now using a (up to) 6 channel mix using Logic and Soundtrack Pro along with Final Cut Pro (... maybe FC Express too). Live Type wouldn't hurt to have either. Of course there are a few other software package combinations out there that could do this as well ( I own a couple that could). I wonder if that is what calling it "????" is about..... put it in code that there is a code that isn't a code telling us: you already have the tools. Could be. Clever marketing indeed. Mr. Burnett is still on the road with Raising Sand & making money as we type & read. I think I have some experimenting to do right now.... DANG! No blank DVD's in the house......





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First... thanks for the welcome. :))


Re. Alan Parsons' Valid Path: it's also a DVD-V "plus", quite similar to the Mellencamp DVD, but it's got 5.1 surround sound... :)))


The AUDIO_TS folder is empty, so it's not a DVD-A disk. When I pop it in my computer's DVD drive (I'm on a PC with XP, not a Mac), it can be launched in a standard software (Video) DVD-Player. It has the usual "movie disk"-type menus (even animated, with all the "bells & whistles" LOL), and when the tunes are playing, the video progresses as a very slow "slide show", showing (among other things) the lyrics of the respective song (if it's not an instrumental, that is...) -- Alan Parsons Karaoke, anybody? LOL


Where A.P. took things further than T-Bone, besides going multichannel, is in the audio options of the DVD material: Stereo LPCM (best I can tell, the max. possible 24/96 variety), plus Dolby Digital -- and even DTS. And I think I vaguely remember that there may even be a fourth audio stream (a commentary track). Neat.


And in the "assets" folder, he's made all the tracks available in lossy AAC and WMA formats, but both fairly low-fi @ 128 kbps.


As you can see: the similarities between A.P.'s approach and T-Bone's supposedly new "CODE" are quite striking. :)


One downside of the DualDisk approach is the disk thickness of 1.2 millimeters. Normal DVDs (and CDs) are approximately 0.8 millimeters thick. My DVD drive frequently "chokes" on this "fat" disk. Drat. Another minor drawback is that there's no room for a nice disk cover -- you get two "shiny surfaces".


If I still wanted to include a traditional redbook CD in my creations, I'd always simply go with a separate CD. Extra cost: approximately 30 cents (for the CD with cover print, plus a slightly more expensive 2-DVD case).


Oh, one last thing about the content of the "Valid Path" DVD: there are even some extra video features on there, including a hidden "Easter Egg": the original video clip to A.P.'s "Time Machine"...


Getting back to the topic of software DVD-A players: I'd really like to get my hands on one so that I can test the DVD-A part of a hybrid disk on my computer... if you know of any (for the PC platform), that piece of info would be much appreciated...


Okay, I've been up and busy for 20 hours now, and it's past 4 AM. Bed time for me...




Please: no beverage consumption while reading my posts. I won\'t clean your monitor.

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