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DTS Digital Sound on Blu-ray and HD DVD Explained
Last Updated on Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 2:48 PM
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The Blu-ray format not allow provides for higher quality picture quality, it also makes possible the best sound quality ever seen on a home video format! The Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats are capable of delivering a movie soundtrack that is an exact match to the original as created by the movie studio.
This document covers information about the audio formats created by DTS that can be on Blu-ray (and HD DVD) discs. If you are interested in more information about Dolby TrueHD and the other Dolby audio formats that can be found on Blu-ray/HD DVD discs, please see Dolby Digital Sound on Blu-ray and HD DVD Explained.
On September 5, 2006 DTS unveiled a three-tier system of audio solutions for the Blu-ray and HD DVD high definition disc formats. Subsequently, the name of the base DTS format was changed from DTS Encore to DTS Digital Surround.
The list below outlines the DTS formats in descending order of quality. DTS-HD Master Audio is the highest quality sound possible using the DTS technology.
DTS-HD Master Audio delivers sound that is bit-for-bit identical to the studio master. It can deliver audio at very high variable bit rates which are significantly higher than standard DVDs. DTS-HD Master Audio can provide up to 7.1 audio channels at 96k sampling frequency / 24-bit depths that are identical to the original.
The DTS-HD Master Audio bit stream also contains the DTS 1.5 Mbps core for compatibility with existing DTS-enabled home theater systems, and delivery of 5.1 channels of sound at twice the resolution found on most standard DVDs.
Support for DTS-HD Master Audio is optional in both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats, so if this audio format is important to you, make sure that the player you purchase is capable of decoding and/or bitstreaming it to your receiver.
DTS-HD Master Audio requires an HDMI 1.3 or higher connection to a DTS-HD Master Audio decoder. (View connection diagram) HDMI 1.1 or 1.2 may be used, but that requires that the audio data be sent to the AV receiver in Linear PCM form instead of raw (bitstream) DTS-HD Master Audio. A third option is that the audio is decoded by the player and output via 6-8 analog outputs. (Read More)
If the audio receiving equipment and/or the connection used between the player and the receiving equipment is not capable of decoding DTS-HD Master Audio, the DTS 1.5 Mbps core (DTS Digital Surround) is sent to the receiving equipment.
DTS-HD Master Audio Essential
In September 2009, we began seeing mention of DTS-HD Master Audio | Essential as being supported in the new Toshiba BDX2000 Blu-ray player.
DTS-HD Master Audio | Essential appears to be a subset of Master Audio, except for the lack of Neo:6 decoding on Blu-ray and DTS | 96 /24, DTS | ES, ES Matrix, and DTS Neo: 6 on DVD.
DTS-HD High Resolution Audio can deliver up to 7.1 channels of sound that is virtually indistinguishable from the original soundtrack. It provides audio at high constant bit rates superior to standard DVDs to produce outstanding quality. It can carry up to 7.1 channels at 96k sampling frequency / 24-bit depth resolution, thereby allowing content creators to provide rich, high definition audio on content where disc space may not allow for DTS-HD Master Audio.
The DTS-HD High Resolution Audio bit stream also contains the DTS 1.5 Mbps core for compatibility with existing DTS-enabled home theater systems, and delivery of 5.1 channels of sound at twice the resolution found on most standard DVDs.
Support for DTS-HD High Resolution Audio is optional in both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.
DTS-HD High Resolution Audio requires an HDMI 1.1 or higher connection to a DTS-HD High Resolution Audio decoder, unless it is decoded by the player and output via analog outputs.
If the audio receiving equipment and/or the connection used between the player and the receiving equipment is not capable of decoding DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, the DTS 1.5 Mbps core (DTS Digital Surround) is sent to the receiving equipment.
It appears that DTS-HD High Resolution Audio has been deprecated as a format. The DTS web site no longer lists it on their DTS Audio Formats page and no studios are releasing content using this format, as DTS-HD Master Audio has become the defacto standard for DTS sound on Blu-ray discs.
DTS Digital Surround is the original DTS decoding format that revolutionized home theater audio. Enhanced dynamic range and improved frequency response combine to create an enveloping surround sound experience for movies and music when compared to competing audio decoding technologies available at the time. You can confidently play DTS-HD encoded discs on a Blu-ray or HD DVD player and use your existing DTS capable receiver to enjoy high quality DTS Digital Surround.
Due to space limitations on the standard DVD format, most DVD content featuring DTS surround sound is encoded at 768 kbps. However, with the introduction of the new higher capacity high definition optical disc media, consumers will be able to experience the DTS core at a full 1.5 Mbps, resulting in an immediate improvement in sound quality even if a next generation player is connected to standard home theater hardware.
Support for DTS Digital Surround is mandatory in both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats, but it is optional for movie studios to use.
Compatibility and Connections
All three formats are compatible with any current receiver that can decode a DTS bitstream, so you can take purchase titles with the higher quality audio on them and still enjoy them on an older audio system. Then, when you upgrade your A/V receiver or Preamp/Processor, purchasing a model that supports the higher quality formats will allow you to enjoy them without having to purchase the titles over again.
HD DVD and Blu-ray discs contain more audio than just what is contained strictly in the movie itself. There may be sounds when you bring up the overlay menus, and if you are viewing content that appears in a secondary video window (picture-in-picture), that audio needs to be mixed together with the primary audio from the movie soundtrack. Doing so requires that the player performs this mixing and then outputs a compatible audio stream to your A/V receiver or Preamp/Processor.
So, unlike with DVD, where the receiver needed to be able to decode Dolby Digital or DTS as sent straight from the disc to the receiver, the player now handles the initial decoding, mixing, and re-encoding. This process makes it possible for a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack to be decoded, mixed, and then sent via HDMI in PCM format (a raw audio data format) to an HDMI-equipped receiver that may not be able to decode DTS-HD Master Audio natively (such equipment is very uncommon as of November 2007).
Some players have an option to forgo this decoding/mixing/re-encoding process and the audio from the movie is sent to the receiver via HDMI in a bitstream format. When this happens, no menu audio or secondary audio of any kind is audible. The receiver is then required to decode the audio format that exists on the disc being played. For more information about this, please see the Help Document titled "Do I Need a New Receiver to Enjoy the Best Sound from HD DVD and Blu-ray?"
DTS is a registered trademark of DTS, Inc.
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