Your Home Theater System Bible

Dolby vs. DTS: Is there a Better Format?

DD vs DTSHome has never been the same with the advent of the home theatre. Viewing and listening has since then been even more entertaining, relaxing and more interactive. With the recent innovations (ie automated controls via personal IP, more flexible interconnects, and so on) it has even provided a lot more control for every home theatre user.

Just as the use of technology, including those that are associated with home theatres, a number of competing brands representing the various devices that complete a home theatre set up also surfaced which provided consumers more options to select from. With the competition also came better costing alternatives for the consumer. The market slowly begun to be filled with varied brands claiming to offer better quality as well as cost. Consequently, the consumers became even more difficult to please.

Amongst the developments that took place aimed at providing a better home theatre experience, was the introduction of more sophisticated sound formats that define the quality of sound produced by a home theatre device.

With the dawn of Dolby surround in movie theaters, it did not take long before the consumers were able to acquire the advantages of this technology into the audio-video marketplace. But as always, the customers once presented with a better alternative, will soon look for a much better option. Consequently, in 1982, Dolby came up with Dolby Digital (DD, a fully discrete digital 5.1 channel surround format that was produced for both the theaters as well as home audio/video marketplace.  A year later, Digital Theater Systems (DTS) joined the competition claiming that its coding system sounded better because of the higher bit rates and also less compression that it requires.

Both these formats have their own pros and cons–each has apparent sonic advantages.  Nonetheless, it has been remarkable to note the impact of these developments over the past years. Hardware vendors, likewise, begun to offer a multitude of player options that has the ability to cover a wider range of consumer budgets. Even so, record labels have been offering software that can support such formats at a slow pace and with options that do not include the greater part of the consumer marketplace.

Note that neither of these two was created for DVD. Both DTS and DD were developed to supply 5.1 discrete channels of digital sound in cinemas on 35mm film at the same time staying entirely well-matched with typical devices.

The DTS sound track, on the other hand, is not on the film but on a separate CD and has been matched with SMPTE time code indications on the film.  DTS claims that it sounds better as it provides better compression than Dolby. Dolby contradicts saying that any conclusions cannot be drawn mainly from the raw compression data as it all depends on how well the codec, either the compression/decompression system, has been constructed.

There a number of points that can be stated regarding the positive attributes of either format. Still, it will depend on the user’s total experience.  Testing options would definitely be vital, before actually picking the device that would complement your home theatre system.

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Posted on August 31, 2013 by 0 Comments Short URL


Alphonso Soosay, an accomplished musician and sound recording specialist has been in the industry for more than 30 years. In this blog Alphonso shares all his experiences and knowledge in the recording and home theatre industry. Alphonso Soosay's Blog

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