Product Review (October 2004) - Minnetonka Audio Software
discWelder Bronze Basic DVD-Audio Tool

Minnetonka Audio Software has recently announced their new discWelder™ BRONZE product, a basic DVD-Audio authoring program that for the amazingly low price of $99 allows users to create high resolution surround recordings on DVD-recordable media. Stereo PCM tracks can be as high as 24-bit/192 kHz and 5.1 surround recordings can be as high as 24-bit/48 kHz. Both WAV and AIFF file formats are supported. We installed the discWelder™ BRONZE software on our Sony PCV-RX550 equipped with a Sony DRU-510A DVD±R/W drive. Installing the software is simple, yet requires users to register their software within 14-days to be able to continue using it after that period. Currently, the software is only available for Windows 98/2000/NT/XP. However, a beta version for the Mac has recently been released for testing.

The discWelder™ Bronze software does not support Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP), which is required for 24-bit/96 kHz (24/96) and 24-bit/88.2 kHz (24/88.2) tracks in the 5.1 surround mode due to bit rate limitations (9.8Mb/s) of the DVD format. Instead, 24/96 and 24/88.2 tracks in 5.1 are downconverted to 24/48 and 24/44.1 respectively. This is an automatic feature of the Bronze software, but the user is prompted when the conversion is about to take place. Fortunately, two-channel recordings at the full 24/192 resolution do not require any compression and is fully supported. Lower resolutions and sample rates are also supported as defined in the DVD-Audio specification.

Making a DVD-Audio disc
For the Windows version we tested, creating a DVD-Audio disc was a very simple process with discWelder's drag and drop interface. The user interface is intuitive and provides a great deal of information on the disc being authored. The process starts with the user selecting an album name. Only a single group is supported with up to 99 tracks. The user selects between two-channel or 5.1 audio formats and then assigns the audio tracks using the application. The user can drag an audio track to the appropriate channel indicated on the screen. The lower right corner of the application window displays the current project size in gigabytes and the percent of disc capacity utilized. It is recommended that disc capacity be kept below 95% due to disc and player headroom requirements. The user can also define the track gap in milliseconds using the Properties window.

Once the tracks are defined and the disc is ready for recording, the process is as simple as pushing the red record button on the toolbar. If more than one DVD recorder is installed on the machine, the user can select which drive to record to. The user has several options that can be selected including Test, Write, Verify and Eject When Done during the recording process.

Conclusion
The discWelder™ BRONZE is an easy to use product that allowed us to create our own high resolution DVD-Audio discs. We are a fan of the format and the ability to author our own discs is an exciting capability. The software was fast and stable during our evaluation period and we experienced no problems. If you are looking for a way to create high-resolution 24/192 stereo or 24/48 5.1 surround recordings, Minnetonka has an inexpensive solution for $99. The software does lack the ability to encode or read MLP files for surround recordings. However, Minnetonka does offer this capability with their CHROME II version of the software when used with the SurCode MLP encoder. Sure, there are more powerful applications available that let you fully exploit the DVD-Audio format with menus, multiple groups, stills and videos, but nothing comes close to the simplicity and low price of this software. If simple DVD-Audio authoring is what you desire, then the discWelder™ BRONZE will satisfy your needs.

- Kevin Nakano


Review System

Projector: Optoma H77 High-Definition HD2+ DLP™ Projector
Screen: Stewart Filmscreen 100" FireHawk Screen on a Luxus Deluxe ScreenWall
Video Processor/Scaler: Anchor Bay Technologies DVDO iScan HD A/V Processor
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Bass Management: Miller & Kreisel BMC Mini 5.1 Bass Management Controller
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box #1: Samsung SIR-T165 Terrestrial HDTV Receiver with DVI
Set-top Box #2: RCA DTC100 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
A/V Cables: Ultralink Platinum and Advanced Performance Series Cables
DVI Cable: Monster Cable M Series M500DVI DVI-D Cable
DVI Extender: Gefen HDTV Extender with Accel Corporation HDMI adapters and Cables
Power Conditioning: Panamax MAX® 5510 ACRegenerator
Video Generator: Sencore VP403 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer #1: Sencore CP5000 ISF Certified All-Display Color Analyzer
Color Analyzer #2: ColorFacts with GretagMacbeth Eye-One Pro Colorphotometer

Desktop PC - Sony VAIO PCV-RX550 1.5 GHz, Windows XP Home


Review - At a Glance


Minnetonka’s discWelder BRONZE Basic DVD-Audio Tool

Features

  • Supports Linear PCM formats: 16-bit and 24-bit depth
  • Stereo: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192kHz sample rates
  • 5.1 Surround: 44.1, 48kHz; WAV or AIFF files
  • Supports Intermixed Surround and Stereo (PCM only) Tracks
  • Multiple DVD±R/W Burner Support
  • 1 Group with up to 99 Tracks
  • Drag-and Drop or Double-Click Soundfile Placement
  • Downmix Properties Preset to Industry Standards

    System Requirements

  • Operating System: Microsoft® Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP
  • Hard Drive Space: 10MB

    Source: Manufacture Supplied
    MSRP: $99


    Company Information
    Minnetonka Audio Software
    17113 Minnetonka Blvd., Suite 300
    Minnetonka, MN 55345

    Website: http://www.minnetonkaaudio.com
    Email: info@minnetonkaaudio.com

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