I recently upgraded my stereo equipment, so I figured I'd snap up some of Neil's DVD-A's. I received American Stars 'N Bars along with Hawks & Doves yesterday in the mail. Both were mastered the same way. I have a Toshiba DVD player that can play DVD-Audio, but maxes out at 96kHz (only two choices can be made on the Toshiba's audio setup screen: 48kHz or 96kHz) . I run a digital coax from the DVD player into my new Denon 2809CI receiver and it shows that these discs are being decoded at 88.2kHz on my system... which is half of the possible 176kHz, but double the 44.1kHz of a regular CD. Anyhow, when I compare Stars 'N Bars to Hawks & Doves, it's Hawks & Doves that really shines. Stars 'N Bars wasn't all that impressive sonically. I suppose when I upgrade to a BluRay player, I'll see if the 176kHz makes any difference... but I somehow doubt it on this particular release, as it seems the limitations I'm hearing are in the master tapes, since Hawks & Doves sounds so much better.
Neil's more recent audio DVD releases (apparently not exactly DVD-audio, but DVD video containing the "hi-res" audio, or DVD9), were mastered at 96kHz/24 bit (Prairie Wind, Chrome Dreams II, Massey Hall, Sugar Mountain, and Live at the Fillmore East) . So I can only guess that the 176kHz/24 DVD-Audio is more than is really needed or Neil would keep pumpin' those out... or the DVD-A format never caught on and Neil gave up on it.
Update: I did purchase a blu-ray player (PlayStation 3). Unfortunately, it does not play DVD-A discs at high quality, only at CD quality. Sony is always updating the PS3 (via periodic downloads if connected to the internet), so it's possible DVD-A could at some point become supported but from what I've read, it's very doubtful. Of course, the PS3 handles Neil's Archives Vol. I & Le Noise blu-ray versions in all of their high quality glory (192kHz/24). It's the best quality I've ever heard. Some STILL say vinyl is king but I challenge those folks to check out blu-ray audio on a great system and compare for themselves.