I just plain don’t like double-sided discs

DualDiscs are half-CD, half-DVD and half-baked

I like the idea of getting both CD and DVD content in one package, but I don’t generally like double-sided discs of any sort.

A DualDisc looks like most CDs or DVDs. That’s because it is two-sided hybrid. On one side is the full-length CD audio album. The other side offers DVD content which might include enhanced album audio, 5.1 surround sound, music videos, artist interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, documentary films, photo galleries, lyrics, computer-ready digital song files or Web links. The content depends on the artist.

The main selling point here is that the DVD side of the DualDisc offers what the music industry is touting as superior audio. Many DualDiscs include surround sound mixes that have been specially created during the recording process. When listened to on a 5.1 channel surround system, the result is a rich, three-dimensional musical experience.

I’m all for extra stuff and surround sound music. I mean, come on. It’s cool. But wouldn’t it be easier/cheaper to just do a double pack with a CD and a DVD? Sort of a “Special Edition”?

One caveat of these hybrid discs is that they don’t play in all players, mainly because they’re thicker than standard discs. And, of course, the format is just a package. It’s the content that matters.

Sound wise, my DualDiscs range from horrible and one-dimensional (“Rebirth”) to average CD quality good (the other two). I’ve watched the included videos and thought they looked fine. The two-channel audio on the DVD side sounded OK coming from my HDTV’s speakers. I don’t have a surround sound system set up at the moment so I can’t comment on that.

The DualDiscs cost $13.99 each. The CD-only version of the J. Lo album was selling for the same price as the DualDisc. The older AC/DC and Miles Davis albums were selling for $9.99 on CD. The extra material was nice, but not worth the extra $4.

First of all, why is a guy without the setup to test the 5.1 audio even writing this article? Beyond that, though, it will have to be up to the consumer to decide whether the bonus materials are worth any extra expense.

I, myself, am all over bonus material on movie DVDs if it’s a film I really like. Otherwise, I couldn’t care less. I’ll watch 79 hours of special features on LORD OF THE RINGS (twice, probably), but I won’t spend two minutes to watch a trailer for most movies out there. It’s up to the buyer to decide.

Unless there isn’t a choice: Bruce Springsteen’s next album, DEVILS & DUST, will be released exclusively in DualDisc format on April 26th:

The DVD side will feature the first live performances of Devils & Dust material. Filmmaker/photographer Danny Clinch captured new, acoustic renditions of “Devils & Dust,” “Long Time Comin’,” “Reno,” All I’m Thinkin’ About,” and “Matamoras Banks,” each with Springsteen’s extensive, personal introductions. The performances were filmed in New Jersey in February 2005. The DVD side will also contain the entire album mixed in 5.1 channel surround sound and in stereo.

Given the Boss’ political ranting of late, we’ll see if this might be the last Springsteen album I buy. Not likely, unless the message in the music isn’t what I’m looking for. I hope he just shuts up and sings.


  1. A backtrack in technology in my view – it is likely we are all going to shift to DVD’s anyway, so instead of a small crappy cd player, why not have the same crappy thing, but just that it can also play DVD music aswell? We have CD-mp3 players so is this so much to ask? The disk could still store other data which can be acessed from a computer or proper DVD player.