Movie Theater: DTS or Dolby????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jenna, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    OK...I'm in need of an answer from all of you theater sound experts out there.
    I took my son to see Harry Potter this past Sunday at a Carmike Theater. According to the newspaper, it was being shown in two different theaters, one stating "DTS" and the other "Dolby. Well, having a home theater preference of DTS, I went up to one of the "ushers" and asked which showing was in DTS as that was the theater I wanted to see it in. A female manager overheard my question and stated "the Dolby Sound is superior to the DTS, and I've been in the business over 40 years so I should know". Well, again I stated my preference of DTS and went to that theater.
    So, my question is this: "Is this woman deaf or is there something different in a movie theater's quality of Dolby vs DTS that I'm unaware of?" How could the superior sound of DTS differ from a public vs a home theater???
     
  2. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    Well, hard to say what her beef was. My experience is that in theaters, DTS wins fairly easily. The sound is richer, fuller and more expansive. Maybe this manager just had a DD preferance? Either way, if there is a choice between DTS and DD, in a theater, I always choose the DTS.

    Bruce
     
  3. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I echo Bruce's sentiment. Experience doesn't always equal accurate knowledge...who knows why she prefers DD.
     
  4. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    Isn't movie theater sound a far different animal than home theater sound? I think they are for the most part identical systems so wouldn't it come down to who prepared the better mix?

    Also is there a theatrical equivalent of DTS ES? If not than a newer dolby system may have an edge since there is THX EX for dolby equiped theaters.
     
  5. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    Unless you heard the same film presented in both formats in the same auditorium, there's no way to make an accurate comparison. In my experience they both sound great, though DTS often plays with fewer dropouts due to it being stored on a CD-ROM instead of on the film directly. DD tracks often have dropouts after a few weeks of play if the theatre isn't good about keeping the film path clean and their print gets marked up (DD tracks are stored in the space between the perforations on the 35mm film). DTS tracks only have a timecode stored on the print and it's pretty robust if the equipment is set up properly.

    Personally, I'd go for whichever auditorium presents a better *picture* if the only other difference is DD or DTS.
     
  6. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

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    The two Century Theater complexes I patronize a lot (Century 25 Union Landing in Union City, CA and Century 25 Great Mall in Milpitas, CA) actually have every screen ready to play any the three digital audio formats used in theaters--Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES and Sony SDDS. I really don't hear a difference between the three, though. [​IMG]
     
  7. David Coleman

    David Coleman Supporting Actor

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    In the theater to me DTS and SDDS handily defeat DD!
     
  8. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    I prefer SDDS to the other two. But I hear many theater managers have a problem with DTS, not because of the sound quality, but because there always seems to be a problem getting the CD-ROM as it is often shipped seperately or something.
     
  9. Jason Whyte

    Jason Whyte Screenwriter

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    I think it completely depends on the theater and how they use their hardware, speakers, and sound volume. Some of the best sound I've ever heard in a movie theater has been in Dolby Digital, while another theater can sound incredible with DTS, and another can simply FLOOR you with SDDS Digital Sound (though if I remember correctly, there is no new SDDS hardware being made for theaters now, but films are still being issued with the soundtracks). And, of course, I've heard crappy audio presentations from all three formats as well.
    My preference over the years has been DTS, even with its flaws. Some lazy projectionists will simply forget to place the discs into the player and yet still thread the print through the DTS in the projector, and there's even times where only the first or the second disc has been placed in the machine, so after 40-60 minutes of crappy analog sound....WOOSH! In comes DTS. [​IMG]
    That said, it's the best sounding format I've heard, but I'm also a big fan of both SR-D and SDDS, WHEN they are used well.
     
  10. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  11. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    well over here in the UK when i was a projectionist the Cd-ROM that held the DTS track was always shipped with the movie reels.

    Although our cinema had the DTS ROM drives it was never hooked up. It had the old reel towers (that could only hold around 2 and a half hours so Harry Potter and LOTR has an intermission) with 7 screens and only one person doing it all, Dolby Digital was only ever on screen 1, so the rest were Dolby Stereo (pro-logic) It was very busy most nights but Thursdays were the worst cause you had to do join up the reels for Friday for the new movies as well as watch over the 7 projectors.
     
  12. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Usually, in a well equipped theater I prefer DTS over Dolby Digital.

    DD, to me, has shriller and more "digital" sounding high frequencies, like an MP3 at lower quality. Bass is about equal in quality.

    Dan
     

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