DVD-Music isn't actually an official DVD format, but it has become a commonly used name for a DVD-Video disc that contains primarily music. A DVD-Music disc plays in any standard DVD player with video or still pictures that accompany the audio. DVD-Audio disc contains special high-fidelity audio tracks that can only be played in DVD-Audio players.
When DVD was released in 1996 there was no DVD-Audio format, although the audio capabilities of DVD-Video far surpassed CD. The DVD Forum sought additional input from the music industry before defining the DVD-Audio format.
DVD-Audio is a separate format from DVD-Video. DVD-Audio discs can be designed to work in DVD-Video players, but it's possible to make a DVD-Audio disc that won't play at all in a DVD-Video player, since the DVD-Audio specification includes new formats and features, with content stored in a separate "DVD-Audio zone" on the disc (the AUDIO_TS directory) that DVD-Video players never look at. New DVD-Audio players are needed, or new "universal players" that can play both DVD-Video and DVD-Audio discs. Universal players are also called VCAPs (video-capable audio players).
With a small amount of effort, all DVD-Audio discs can be made to work on all DVD players by including a Dolby Digital version of the audio in the DVD-Video zone.
DVD-Audio players (and universal players) work with existing receivers. They output PCM and Dolby Digital, and some will support the optional DTS and DSD formats. However, most current receivers can't decode high-definition, multichannel PCM audio, and even if they could it can't be carried on standard digital audio connections. DVD-Audio players with high-end digital-to-analog converters (DACs) can only be hooked up to receivers with 2-channel or 6-channel analog inputs, but some quality is lost if the receiver converts back to digital for processing. New receivers with improved digital connections such as IEEE 1394 (FireWire) are needed to use the full digital resolution of DVD-Audio.
DVD audio is copyright protected by an embedded signaling or digital watermark feature. This uses signal processing technology to apply a digital signature and optional encryption keys to the audio in the form of supposedly inaudible noise so that new equipment will recognize copied audio and refuse to play it.
A drawback related to DVD-Audio and SACD players is that most audio receivers with 6 channels of analog input aren't able to do bass management. Receivers with Dolby Digital and DTS decoders handle bass management internally, but 6-channel analog inputs are usually passed straight through to the amplifier. Without full bass management on 6-channel analog inputs, any audio setup that doesn't have full-range speakers for all 5 surround channels will not properly reproduce all the bass frequencies.