Dolby Digital vs. DTS

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by SeanA, Sep 14, 2003.

  1. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    I have never bothered changing the default surround audio setting in the menu of a DVD, but I am now wondering if there are any advantages of one format over another ? It seems most DVDs use Dolby Digital sound processing as a default, but the "Chicago" DVD, for instance, allows one to choose the default Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1. If Dolby Digital is the default, does this mean the original sound track was recorded in that format ? If so, why would one make any other choice than the default ?
     
  2. Lev-S

    Lev-S Second Unit

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    dts averages at 754 bitrate vs Dolby Digital at either 384 or 448. It's just like how a 192 kpbs mp3 sounds better than a 128 kbps mp3. Is it noticable? To some no, to others (like me) yes. BTW, they also mix soundtracks for theater surround SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound - I think...) which is like 8.2 or something like that. Would you pick DD over that because it's default?[​IMG]
     
  3. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    This has been debated to no avail. I listen to DTS when available usually. Maybe because their logo is cooler. They both sound great to me [​IMG]
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  5. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  7. Wayde_R

    Wayde_R Stunt Coordinator

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    On a couple of DVDs I did side by side comparisons of DTS vs DD. Both, at least in my system sounded better in DTS.

    Gladiator. The execution scene near the begining. "Sometimes the blade sticks." Watch that whole scene in both. I think the details in the wind going from front to back and how it changes direction with the perspective of camera's pov is amazing. I don't notice it in DD.

    Mulon Rouge. The "we could be heros" duet between Kidman and McGregor on the rooftops (near the begining of the movie)that ends in the lines from the Elton John song...'how wonderful life is now you're in the world.' There is simply no comparison between the DD and DTS version. DTS is so much clearer in the softer details, at the very end of that scene a guy in a window echos (whispers) that last Elton John line and in DD (at a medium volume) it's very low, in fact almost muffled. In DTS it's quite clear, each word is clearly enunciated.

    I use DTS where available. Those are just my head to head comparison examples. If you have those dvds let me know if you find the same results.
     
  8. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Just to echo what Michael Rueben said, comparing DD to DTS is not like comparing two different compression levels of the MP3 codec. With MP3 you are comparing 2 compression levels within the same compression algorithm - of course they will sound different. However, DD vs. DTS is comparing two different codecs, big difference. If DD's algorithm is more efficient than DTS (I'M NOT SAYING IT IS!!!), then it is entirely possible for DD to sound better with a higher compression rate than DTS does with a lower compression rate. The idea that "DTS uses a higher bitrate, it must be better" is one of the biggest fallacies in the DTS vs. DD debate and is easily proven to be a falsehood if you know anything about compression techniques.
     
  9. JamesHl

    JamesHl Supporting Actor

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    I'll say what I always say in these threads.

    The difference is in the mix, not the format.
     
  10. Paul.Little

    Paul.Little Stunt Coordinator

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    The reason DVDs default to the Dolby Digital soundtrack rather that the DTS soundtrack is equipment driven. If you own a receiver with a digital input for a DVD player, it definitely has a Dolby Digital decoder built into it. It may not have a DTS decoder built into it. There are a significant number of Digital Surround Sound receivers in peoples' homes that do not have DTS capability. The DTS soundtrack can do some damage to speaker systems if you attempt to play it back through one of these systems at normal home theater volume levels. That's why, on many DVDs with a DTS soundtrack you get an "are you sure" type message after you select the DTS soundtrack.

    As for sound quality, I have done a little bit of listening. While I have heard DD soundtracks that sounded better that the DTS counterpart, most of the time I prefer the DTS soundtrack.
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  12. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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  13. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    I prefer DTS over DD, but that's just me. Doesn't turn a lousy film into a good film. However, you'll hear more professional and non-professional bias toward DTS over DD.
    The reason why DVD discs set the player's audio default on DD over DTS is because DTS outputs a loud "pink" sounding noise if the digital connection from the player goes into a preamp without a DTS decoder. The noise can possibly be loud enough to cause distortion and damage your speakers.
    Therefore, it's "safer" for DVDs to automatically select the DD soundtrack over DTS.
     
  14. Paul.Little

    Paul.Little Stunt Coordinator

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  15. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    DTS sounds better to me also--cleaner with better high frequency detail (movies and dvd-audios). And I understand the volume level thing, but for me this isn't a factor in my preference.

    LJ
     
  16. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    While there are differences due to different mixes from different masters, I suggest another possibility that might come into play more often that has not been discussed to my knowledge(if you read Roog's comments in the thread Michael mentioned, he said it is not common to start from different masters in his experience).

    Back when DTS & Dolby were releasing their position papers on each other's codec, DTS mentioned that Dolby's encode/decode combo exhibited phase anomolies with the LFE and Main channels to the point of them being up to 225 degrees out of phase. Of course, anytime a company makes claims about a competitor, I take it with a large dose of skepticism.

    After digging for some information to corroborate those claims, I found at some Pro Forums that it was a known issue. Some of the engineers mentioned that it was of the utmost importance when working with Dolby Digital to carfully monitor the mix with bass management, because it could sound perfectly fine in the studio but acoustical and electrical cancellations could wreak havoc on the quality of the soundtrack when played back through consumer equipment in people's homes.

    If it slipped through and made itself on to DVD, the DTS soundtrack could sound fuller with more body or weight in comparison(even higher up in the frequency harmonics). Interestingly, those kind of characteristics are often mentioned when some are describing why they prefer a particular DTS soundtrack over its DD counterpart.

    In addition, it's not going to manifest itself on every disc because of the experience of the enginners and the differing equipment used in the various mixing studios.

    I thought it was very interesting. There is alot that goes on behind the scenes that we are unaware of. Reading and discussing some of the issues engineers are faced with was very eye opening and informative.

    DJ
     
  17. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Fascinating stuff, David. It could explain a great deal. Do you have any links to the discussions in question?

     
  18. SeanA

    SeanA Second Unit

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    Wow... I was away for a couple of days, but it is amazing how much good information and debate comes from this forum with the right questions. Thanks guys !!!
     
  19. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  20. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    Michael,

    http://www.musicplayer.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi
    I especially like the Surround Professional Forum, but there is alot of good info. in some of the other ones, as well. The magazine, started by Tomlinson Holman is also an excellent resource.
    http://recpit.prosoundweb.com/
    http://www.3daudioinc.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi

    There are many more links available from those sites too.

    Lewis,

    That paper was written just a few months ago. It certainly is in Dolby's interest to make the professionals aware of the issue so quality isn't compromised.

    DJ
     

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