Flashback: Stereo Review 1998 & DVD’s Early Days

A promising new movie format called DVD was the theme of the August 1998 issue of Stereo Review, the 40-year-old magazine that would take on a new identity six months later with the debut of Sound & Vision.

The lead story was an “everything you need to know” buyer’s guide to DVD players and David Ranada’s review of Pioneer’s flagship player—the $2,000 Elite DV-09—was featured prominently on the cover. Ranada, a notoriously picky reviewer, was impressed but tempered his enthusiasm: “On the whole, the Pioneer DV-09 performed extremely well, especially in terms of picture quality. Whether any other aspects of its behavior or construction justify its steep price is something only the depth of your pockets can decide.”

The DVD shopping guide featured a mere three dozen players from 16 brands, evidence that DVD was barely off the launching pad. Prices ranged from $399 for the Philips Magnavox DVD400AT to a whopping $5,495 for Faroudja’s DV-1000, with most players priced between $500 and $800. Dan Kumin’s introduction says it all:

You don’t have a DVD player yet? If you’re not thinking about getting one, you probably will be soon. Although first-year sales were slightly less than many had hoped for, the virtues of the new, fully-digital A/V medium are powerful enough to induce salivation in any serious home-theater fan. All appearances are that DVD is here to stay.

To put Kumin’s comments in perspective, DVD had set its sights on replacing clunky VHS tapes with movies on a sleek disc offering “video quality that’s demonstrably superior to anything that’s come before.” Kumin went on to point out how DVD also stepped up the audio game with “5.1-channel digital surround sound that can equal what you’ll hear in the best cinemas.”

In the same issue raconteur/columnist Corey Greenberg chided specialty audio for being slow to the home theater party in his short-lived column, The High End. “Ironically, high-end audio took a dim view of the home-theater boom when it first hit, but it looks like home theater is going to save the high end from itself after all. Rising to the challenge of multichannel sound and the ever-narrowing gap between itself and the mass market, high-end audio is both moving away from the elitism and quasi-religious hoo-ha of the Eighties, and evolving toward a smarter, more competitive world-view.”


The DVD release was a real watershed. From that moment our home theater would never be the same. Today we have the Blu-ray disc, a visual winner system with high resolution (1080p FullHD), but which is now being replaced by a new more advanced standard still called 4K or UHD (2.160p), an interesting revolution in the way as now we can see our movies and concerts at home. Fortunately, today there are already devices for our home theater for all tastes and prices. Interestingly, the old CD and DVD still resist strongly in their market niches that ignore the existence of the Blu-ray and excellent SACD from Sony that did not kill the good and old CD, but also failed to convince consumers. Now the high definition sound is inside to the new audio codecs (Dolby True HD, and DTS MasterAudio) or better yet LPCM 96Kz-192Kz, all these natives from the Blu-ray Disc.

4Krevo's picture

People say that Blu-ray is supposed to kill the DVD. It turns out it was internet & streaming instead. Down with physical media!!!!!!

And since BD and DVD are similar formats, the DVD wont die out that quickly. In fact a DVD is much easier to produce than Blu-ray.