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DTS vs. Dolby Digital...to the ear? (1 Viewer)

JoshGivens

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I've read about the definitions of DTS and Dolby Digital surround media. I know that the compression for Dolby is 12:1 while DTS is 3:1 and that Dolby transfers data at ~380k and DTS at 1.44M. That is all well and good but my real question is, what am I hearing that makes the difference.

If I play Gladiator or Master and Commander in Dolby Digital and then I play it again in DTS (I'm not talking about the different movie intros) what should I expect to hear in the way of differences between the two.

My ear may not be as calibrated to the differences as some of the more refined HT buffs here so I thought I would pose this question to help all of those who are in the same proverbial boat as me.
 

ChuckSolo

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Josh, on my system, DTS always seems to sound "fuller" and with more bass response from the sub. I always listen to the DTS track over the Dolby, it justs sounds better to me.
 

Jack Briggs

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But not always...

If you have, for example, American Beauty or even The Beatles Anthology, you'll note that the Dolby Digital tracks exceed the DTS tracks.

It all depends on the authoring.
 

ScottCHI

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it really depends upon how well the particular soundtrack was mastered.

DTS should sound better, in theory, but this is definitely NOT always the case, so don't assume so. sometimes the DTS track is more of an afterthought and not as carefully mastered.

EDIT: oops, some people posted while i was typing that response. sorry for the redundancy.
 

Michael Reuben

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The subject has been discussed endlessly, with no consensus on the answer. I suggest searching for prior threads. An interesting one is here in the Software Archive.

Personally I consider DTS to be a giant waste of space, at least for movie soundtracks. I have yet to hear any claimed superiority in DTS tracks that wasn't an obvious result of using a different mix.


Those figures are wrong. On most DVDs produced in the last 5 years, DD 5.1 tracks usually run at 448kbps, and DTS tracks usually run at 754kpbs.

M.
 

Leo Kerr

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I have a very unscientific judgement on the various different formats with the following qualifier:

This is completely from the theater setting, not the home theater.

While not being consiously aware of the differences between DTS-1.44MB, DD-.38MB, and SDDS-1.2MB, I have 'observed' the following symptom.

I was less likely to leave the theater with a headache with SDDS or DTS theater soundtracks than I was with a DD soundtrack.

Now, I'll add some more qualifiers: sometimes this was an observation of one film, different theaters, and other times it was an observation of different films in the same theater, which suggested to me that it may have been something in the film's soundtrack, itself.

Being unconsious of the difference except through the headache, however, makes me speculate on two possibilities.

1. The mind is spending a lot more time 'making up' things that it thinks I should be hearing but aren't (un-psychoacoustic masking), or
2. something about the relative 'bit starvation' tended to 'create' inaudible but perceptable 'noise' leading to the symptoms.

On the other hand, in the home theater environment, comparing the various levels of Dolby Digital and DTS, the only comperable condition arises from the quality of the mix: if I have to fight to hear the dialog, for example, that's... uncomfortable, but not the fault of the format.

On the third hand, ("greetings, Mr. Beeblebrox,") there are two more 'factoids.' I can call these factoids, because these are directly observed observations of mine about my own behavior.

1. The above symptoms were such that if I had the choice of two or three different 'acceptable' cinemas to see a film in, I would choose (in this order,) DTS, SDDS, and then DD.
2. Since the Muvico Egyptian opened close by (less than 10 miles) and the coding technology has improved by leaps and bounds, I have tended to see a lot more DD presentations there, and have not noted the headache as often. (Muvico Egyptian seems to have DD systems in every hall, and maybe some competing formats in some halls. On the fourth hand so far this message, they've been the most reliable theater for me to see a film with a decent presentation.)

Leo Kerr
 

Michael Reuben

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Interesting observations, Leo. I assume you're aware that:
  • the DTS used in movie theaters is not the same codec used in home theater; and
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 uses the same codec for movie and home theaters, but the theatrical bitrate is lower.[/list=a]
    For these objective reasons (in addition to the subjective ones), experience in theaters is of limited utility in evaluating the home formats.

    M.
 

Leo Kerr

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Yes, and yes, but I still found the differences to be 'significantly interesting.' From a statistical sense, that is.

On the other hand, while Dolby Digital is still fundamentally the 'same' as when it first was deployed to the theaters in '94 or so, the actual psychoacoustic models have been tweaked for better performance (with coding tweaks being delivered by the head of the film itself, according to Dolby Labs.)

(note the above date may be wrong; but my memory suggests that widespread deployment of DD in the theaters came after the initial deployment of DTS with Jurassic Park.)

Leo Kerr
 

Jeff Gatie

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Not to nitpick and I think you put the term in single quotes for a reason, but these differences are not 'significantly interesting' from a statistical sense, however they may be 'interesting' from an anectdotal sense. There are just too many factors in your observations that do not even come close to allowing a statistical analysis. Sorry, it's just the engineer in me coming out. Forgive me, for I am a geek.
 

SteveKNJ

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John, that's probably as good a reason as any!! I think so much of it depends on how fine tuned your ear is and how fine tuned your system is, with the emphasis on the former. Personally, I can't tell the difference really, but I use DTS because suposedly there is less compression and a fuller sound, and secondly, because it's like having a bonus feature on my DVD, if they included it there must be a reason, right?
 

John S

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Yep. I mean I got this DTS decoder, I may as well use it from time to time.
 

Michael Reuben

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Usually a result of unmatched levels. Because of technical features, most DTS tracks play 4db louder than a DD track derived from the same master. Equalize the levels, and both tracks sound equally "full". For an interesting experiment, go here.

M.
 

John S

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See it comes back to my answer, as the best reason to use it. No specs, no arguments, no difference of opinion, ect..ect.. ;)
 

Michael Reuben

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It's the only reason I ever play DTS tracks these days: because they're there. :)

M.
 

Cees Alons

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I wish DTS would have a codec that somehow only recorded the differences (as they want it in the endproduct) with the already present DD track. That would save so much space on the disc.
Now we have information that for most part of it is purely redundant, which is even worse because they need so many many bytes to record it.

That less compression equals better reproduction is technically nonsense, indeed. The poor compression could also mean that the inventors simply couldn't come up with a compression technique as clever as Dolby. The logic to compare the results like that is severely flawed, because the codecs are not the same.


Cees
 

Jeff Gatie

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To quote myself when my boss wants two competeing vendors to release proprietary information to each other, "No matter how much you want them to, Coke and Pepsi are not going to get together and make you a can of Poke!". Besides, just how much would DTS like it if that file turns out to be a bunch of commands that amount to "increase volume by 4dB" for each byte in the DD stream?:D
 

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