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Help! Re: Dolby Digital and DTS ??

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Amy Tippin, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. Amy Tippin

    Amy Tippin Auditioning

    Mar 7, 2002
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    On my DVD player, it says Dolby Digital / DTS. What are these ?? is there diff. between the two?
  2. David_Stein

    David_Stein Second Unit

    Feb 13, 2002
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    im sure someone will come with a much more detailed answer, but i think the main difference is that only some dvds have DTS and its supposed to be less compressed than DD. its also a different soundtrack (although slightly), i think depending on the DVD some people like one or another...
  3. Rick Guynn

    Rick Guynn Second Unit

    Mar 23, 1999
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    The short answer is that they are two different formats for recording/playing the soundtracks of movies and other material in theaters and on dvd.

    The primary difference is that Dolby Digital is a 'more compressed' data stream, and so takes up less storage space. This comes at the price of some fidelity in the sound. The difference in sound is more pronounced on some movies than others.

    Dolby Digital is also the only format 'required' by the DVD standard.
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
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    Please read the thre above titled "What Every HT Newbie Should Know..." That thread was actually inpired by a question you asked before, so there is probably a lot of useful info for you specifically.
    The following info is included:
    As you may already know, the encoded audio information on DVD is digital- meaning the sound has been translated into computer data. When audio is turned into this "digital data", there are several ways it can be written. Much the same way you can express the message "PEACE ON EARTH" in dozens of languages (English, French, Korean, etc)- you can translate audio into DATA using many different systems.
    Some computer users might be familiar with formats like MP3 or WAV-- these are simply different ways of expressing audio in the form of computer data. In the wide world of audio, there are literally hundreds of ways audio can be turned into data, or "encoded". Each format has it's own advantages and disavantages.
    In the world of DVD, we have essentially 2 major formats for digital audio: one is called Dolby Digital and one is called DTS...
    What is Dolby Digital?
    Dolby Digital is an audio compression system introduced to theatres way back in 1992 for the film Batman Returns. In late 1995 the system made its appearance on LaserDisc, DVD's immediate predecessor, with the release of Clear and Present Danger. It first appeared on DVD in late 1996 (in Japan), and early the following year in the US.
    Dolby Digital is a very flexible system, allowing anywhere from 1 to 5 full-range audio channels with an optional 'LFE' (Low Frequency Effects, or bass) channel for each variant. Dolby Digital also consumes very little 'space' (data) on a DVD, and a typical Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack requires less than a third of the space required by a CD's two channels. This small size leaves lots of space for multiple soundtracks, extras, or better video.
    Dolby Digital soundtracks can be so small because they are 'compressed', much like a computer .zip file (but in this case 'AC-3'); although unlike a computer's compression system some audio information is 'thrown away' to save additional space. This may sound bad but this information shouldn't be audible so makes little to no difference to the system's overall sound quality.
    Dolby Digital 2.0 is the most common use of the format, the '2' indicating the number of full range channels and the '0' indicating the lack of an LFE channel.
    Dolby Digital 2.0 is usually used to present stereo soundtracks on DVD, which can additionally be recorded in Dolby Surround (a technique that squeezes four audio channels into two, and is intended to be processed by a Pro Logic or Pro Logic 2 decoder).
    Dolby Digital 5.1 is the second most common use of Dolby Digital on DVD, presenting five full-range audio channels and an LFE channel. Three of these channel are arranged across the front soundstage (left, centre and right) and two across the rear soundstage (left surround and right surround; Dolby Digital Surround EX adds an additional back-surround channel blended into the two surround channels). The LFE channel is directed to a subwoofer, or if one is unavailable to a system's main speakers.
    Other variants such as Dolby Digital 4.1 are much less common, appearing on a few DVDs such as Big Trouble in Little China. Dolby Digital 4.1 usually indicates three front soundstage channels and a single surround channel that is fed to both surround speakers.
    Along with PCM audio (the same kind of audio used by the venerable CD) Dolby Digital is one of DVD's audio 'standards', which means every DVD must contain either a Dolby Digital or PCM soundtrack. Any type of Dolby Digital will do, even a mono Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack.
    Because Dolby Digital soundtracks are so much smaller than PCM soundtracks, most DVDs include a Dolby Digital soundtrack rather than PCM.
    What's to know about DTS?
    It is very likely various components within your home theatre (your DVD player for example) sport the DTS logo on the front panel somewhere, but what does this mean? Well, DTS, like Dolby Digital, is another delivery format for digital surround sound (predomenantly 5.1 based) in both movie theatres, and in our homes.
    In 1993, Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park was the first ever movie to carry a DTS (Digital Theatre Systems) soundtrack. A short number of years after it's theatrical launch (which has now seen DTS installed in over 20,000 movie theatres worldwide) the first laserdiscs to carry DTS sound were released to much acclaim, and of recent years much of the home theatre world has been able to embrace a growing amount of DVD releases sporting an optional DTS soundtrack.
    As you begin to learn more about the DTS format you're likely to want to ask a number of very common questions, and there are essentially three key questions newcomers are often itching to ask. It is best we tackle each of these one at a time;
    1) Why don't all DVDs support DTS soundtracks?
    No doubt you have by now noticed, or will come to notice, that not all DVD releases sport the option of a DTS soundtrack. Why is this?
    It first needs to be understood that Dolby is the set "standard" for audio on DVD. DTS is an optional format, and frankly, some studios still don't see it as a format that has a wide enough user base to warrant the extra costs of mastering an additional soundtrack for a DVD.
    What one must also understand is that the space to encode material on a DVD is far from limitless, and DTS takes up space, more space than Dolby Digital. The additional space DTS requires can often prove problematic when it comes to producing a DVD, and when there is a desire to offer a number of supplements on the disc (not to mention the best video transfer possible) the inclusion of DTS can sometimes be seen as a burden and not a valid enough adition to warrant compromise of a disc's visual presentation. The DVD releases of X-Men and Star Wars The Phantom Menace are among those known not to have included an optional DTS track for this very reason.
    2) Ok, so I understand that in some cases the addition of an optional DTS soundtrack is not seen as entirely feasible, even by the studios that support it on DVD, but why don't some studios even support DTS on DVD at all?
    Well, again we must return to the fact that some studios just still don't see DTS as a format that has a wide enough user base in the home to warrant the extra costs of mastering an additional soundtrack for a DVD.
    Paramount is pretty much the one remaining major studio to have never put out a single DVD that carries an optional DTS track. With them in their lack of DTS support are Warner Brothers, who did in fact issue special editions of Twister, the first three Lethal Weapon movies and Interview with a Vampire with DTS soundtracks on DVD a couple of years ago, though have done no more since. Finally, of the big studios, there is MGM, who have thus far only released one DVD with a DTS track option (Ridley Scott's Hannibal).
    The studios that continue to pledge continuing support as and when they see possible? 20th Century Fox, Dreamworks, Universal, New Line Disney. The likes of Anchoy Bay and Criterion continue to show their DTS support on a number of titles.
    3) So, am I hearing the stories correctly? Is DTS better than Dolby Digital?
    This is the most common question of all, and one you will never get a definitive answer to, especially if you decide to openly ask the varied opinions of a membership as large as that of the Home Theatre Forum.
    A lot of the time it is said that it's simply not worth even bothereing to compare the DTS track to the Dolby Digital track on the same DVD, and this is mainly due to the fact that a majority of DTS tracks we are given on DVD are mastered from alternate source material to that of the Dolby counterpart. Why is this? Well, one could imagine this is done to follow the DTS philosophy of presenting the best delivery of a film's original sound mix possible. Why not just source the Dolby track from the best materials possible then you may ask, and that remains one of the killer questions...
    A number of DTS tracks on DVD to be mastered from alternate source material over their Dolby counterparts include Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, Jurassic Park & Se7en.
    Listen with your own ears, only you and you alone can decide upon your preference. Simply sit back, turn up the volume and take full advantage of the beauty of being given the choice of Dolby and DTS soundtracks on an ever growing number of DVDs.
    For more information on DTS, its history and the growing list of titles available on DVD with DTS soundtracks, visit the official DTS Website

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