Why did Dolby Digital become the standard?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Keith_R, Dec 15, 2001.

  1. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    First and foremost I would like to point out that I'm not bashing Dolby Digital but I would like to know how did DD become the standard for DVD and HDTV? whats up with that? DD is great but there are other formats out there (like DTS)so how did DD become the standard? thanks.
     
  2. Marc Rochkind

    Marc Rochkind Second Unit

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    It is the oldest. Started with laserdiscs. I don't know when, but it was firmly entrenched by 1997, when I got started with it. (It was called AC-3 back then.) Also, it is more compact that DTS, which was very important with laserdiscs, as it had to be placed on one of the unused audio tracks. I suspect the increased compression of DD over other schemes is important for HDTV as well.
     
  3. RichardH

    RichardH Supporting Actor

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    DTS wasn't ready when they were establishing the DVD spec, so they went with Dolby Digital. Had DTS been ready and become the standard, who knows if Dolby Digital would have even made it onto discs?
     
  4. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    I think you have to chalk it up to dolby and blame DTS for their slow work.
     
  5. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    Also keep in mind that Dolby has been around for decades and has a solid and long-running relationship with the film industry, electronics manufacturers and consumers. DTS is a relative newcomer and just doesn't have the established long-term viability that the DVD industry was probably looking for.

    If you were determining the specs for a new format, would you go with a reliable and solvent company that had been around for decades, or an upstart that had (at the time) been around barely five years? What would happen if DTS went belly up?

    As good as DTS is, and I am a supporter of DTS, they didn't even start to release a substantial number of DVD titles until almost two years into the format's existence.
     
  6. Christian Dolan

    Christian Dolan Stunt Coordinator

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    I believe that a lot of it had to do with DD's efficiency. When DVD was being developed, there were concerns about its finite "bit bucket". I think that DD posed the smallest burden in provision of 5.1 as well as other audio tracks.
     
  7. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

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    Granted, Dolby digital may not be the best sounding multichannel format out there, but it is the format that has proven to be the most flexible out there. Supported by Laserdisc, satellite, HDTV, movie theaters... No other digital format comes close to this coverage and already proven high quality and reliability. It's no wonder the DVD consortium adopted it as their audio standard.
     
  8. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    Dolby Laboratories had a proven track record of product support and reliability, which Digital Theater Systems didn't. In addition, their system was already well developed and ready for use (and had already being used theatrically for several years), which DTS's wasn't.

    Dolby Digital was one quarter of the size of the eventual DTS soundtrack produced. Low data consumption was a requirement for HDTV, and would have prevented DTS from being a genuine contender even if their system been ready for use. At the required (low) datarates, DTS would have sounded considerably inferior to Dolby Digital.

    Dolby Digital also included features such as dialog normalization and two-channel/mono downmixing capabilities, which DTS didn't (or wouldn't when it was released) that were necessary or desirable for any broadcast system.

    Most importantly, those involved in these decisions based them on practical, not emotional, considerations.

    Adam
     
  9. Espen Braathen

    Espen Braathen Stunt Coordinator

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    For HDTV listening test was performed at Lucasfilm. The main contenders at the time (early 90's) was Dolby Digital and MPEG-2 BC mode Multichannel. In fact, Dolby conceived Dolby Digital (also know as AC-3) to be the audio codec for the HDTV system. Theatrical use of the codec was something that followed after the HDTV developements was finished. The DTS audio codec did not exist at this point in time.
    DTS was not able to supply a working low bitrate encoder for the DVD-Video audio codec testing performed in Japan in the 90's, and to this date DTS has not made a low bitrate codec available (384 kb/s for 5.1 audio). The efficiency of DTS was simply not powerfull enough to make it a real contender for DVD-Video.
    If the specs for ATSC HDTV and DVD-Video had been issued today both would most likely use the superior MPEG-2 NBC audio codec - also known as Advanced Audio Coding (AAC).
    www.aac-audio.com has the details.
    Currently AAC audio is the audio codec for the japanese digital satelite tv system.
    Espen
     
  10. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    That is very true. Almost everyone knows dolby but not everyone knows DTS.
     
  11. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    I think Dolby was involved in the development of AAC. Dolby handles the licensing for it.

    Dolby AC-3 was selected as the sound system for ATSC HDTV not only because it had a low bitrate and necessary broadcast-friendly features such as dialog normalization, but also because it sounded better than the other systems vying to be the standard. The other systems either didn't work or didn't work as well as Dolby.

    When the FCC was about to approve the digital television standard, many companies came out of the woodwork to ask that the standard not be approved for one reason or another. DTS was one of them.
     

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