What’s Different and What’s Similar:
As home cinema evolved, the need for new surround sound formats grew. Users are now looking for more sophisticated sound systems that bring more detail and realism to their movie nights. before trying install surround sound system At home, it’s essential to know some basics, such as the differences between the different home theater audio formats.
The most popular surround sound formats are DTS and Dolby Digital. Both audio compression techniques allow moviemakers to record quality surround sound that can be reproduced by your audio system at home, but which one does better?
Learn the difference between DTS and Dolby Digital and see which one delivers the most spine-tingling and immersive sound.
What is Dolby Digital?
Dolby Digital is a multi-channel audio format created by Dolby Labs. Even if you’ve never heard of DTS, you’ve probably heard of Dolby Digital before. When it comes to surround sound, Dolby Digital is considered the industry standard. It has nothing to do with his superiority. Dolby Labs has been around longer than DTS.
Dolby Digital made its debut Batman Returns in 1992. Since then, Dolby has introduced several advanced audio codecs, including Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos.
TrueHD is a lossless format that promises to deliver sound similar to a movie studio’s master recording.
Atmos is a next-generation audio system that, according to Dolby, is “the most significant development in cinema audio since surround sound.”
What is DTS?
DTS (originally Digital Theater Systems) first appeared in 1993. Straight away, they started competing with Dolby Digital for the better surround sound format title. The first film to use DTS was by Steven Spielberg Jurassic Park, which launched the popularity of DTS.
Since then, the company began producing consumer hardware and released several more advanced surround sound formats. It included a lossless format known as DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS:X – a rival to Dolby’s Atmos.
In general, DTS is not as widely known (or available for that matter) as Dolby Digital. However, some users believe that it is a better format as it encodes audio at higher bit rates.
DTS vs. Dolby Digital: Similarities
Most high-end audio systems available to install at home support both Dolby Digital and DTS. In their basic form, both Dolby Digital and DTS provide surround sound codecs for 5.1 setups—a typical home cinema system with five speakers and a subwoofer. More advanced versions of the formats support 7.1-channel, overhead speakers, and HD surround sound.
Dolby and DTS both have “lossy” and “lossless” codecs. The lossy version’s audio will vary somewhat from the source, while the lossless format promises to deliver studio-level audio performance, but with some compression.
Dolby and DTS use additional technologies such as enhanced surround sound for better immersion, specific encoders for stereo sound, and object-based sound effects for added realism.
In addition to your home cinema, you can find both DTS and Dolby Digital on your computer, smartphone, Blu-ray player or gaming console.
DTS vs Dolby Digital: Difference
Each standard comes with different quality options (or levels) for different forms of media. Here are the different options for each:
- DTS Digital Surround: 5.1 max channel sound 1.5 megabits per second (widely used on DVD)
- DTS-HD High Resolution: 7.1 Maximum channel sound 6 megabits per second (supported by services such as Netflix)
- DTS-HD Master Audio: 7.1 Maximum channel sound 24.5 megabits per second (“lossless” quality available on Blu-ray Disc)
- Dolby Digital: 5.1 Maximum channel sound 640 kilobits per second
- dolby digital plus: 7.1 Maximum channel sound 1.7 megabits per second
- Dolby TrueHD: 7.1 Maximum channel sound 18 megabits per second (“lossless”)
- Dolby Atmos
While the two standards are relatively close in audio performance, there are certainly some technical differences that set them apart.
The main difference between DTS and Dolby Digital is in the bitrate and compression levels.
- DTS Surround compresses 5.1 digital audio data, with a maximum bit rate of 1.5 megabits per second.
- On DVD, the bitrate is limited to about 768 kilobits per second.
- DTS requires compression of around 4:1 (due to the higher bitrates supported by the format).
- Dolby Digital enforces a bitrate of 640 kilobits per second on Blu-ray discs.
- On DVD, the bitrate is limited to 448 kbps.
- Dolby Digital has to use compression of about 10:1 to squeeze the same data as DTS.
In theory, the lower the compression used in encoding, the more realistic sound you get. It seems that DTS has a clear advantage over Dolby Digital because all its versions have a higher bitrate over the specs alone.
But that’s not enough to determine which of the two standards provides a more realistic sound experience. You need to consider other factors such as signal-to-noise ratio, speaker calibration or dynamic range.
Which is better: DTS or Dolby Digital?
While DTS may sound better on paper, the difference between DTS and Dolby Digital is subjective and depends a lot on a specific user and their sound system setup.
If you haven’t invested a lot of money in your sound system, you might not notice any difference. In that case, you’ll be fine with whatever you’ve chosen for your home theater setup. But if you’re planning on spending some serious money on a high-performance receiver and speaker, it’s best to test both and make a final decision based on your preferences.
DTS or Dolby Digital? What is your personal favorite and why? Share your experience with these surround sound formats in the comment section below.