Updated: March 5, 2016

DTS-HD High Definition Audio Formats

Audio solutions for Blu-ray (and HD DVD) Discs

DTS LogoThe lineup of DTS-HD Audio includes a number of high definition audio formats designed specifically to match the picture quality supported by today's Blu-ray discs and HDTV program content.

But there is more... Higher bit rates, higher sampling frequencies and more supported audio channels all lead to a superb listening experience.

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DTS High Resolution Audio Formats

Sound designed to match today's high definition pictures

DTS lineup of high resolution audio comprises three main formats:

- DTS 96/24,

- DTS HD Master Audio,

- DTS HD High Res Audio

There is also DTS Encore, but this is a content name rather than an audio codec product. Encore is designed to deliver DTS Digital Surround audio (from a HD-DVD or a Blu-ray device) at twice the resolution found on most standard DVDs. In other words, DTS Encore is capable of delivering a DTS Digital Surround signal at the full 1.5Mb/s supported by this DTS format, rather than the at the 768kb/s limit supported on standard DVD-video.

Except for DTS 96/24 - which is a high resolution 24-bit/96kHz audio for standard DVD-Video and DVD-Audio, the others form part of a three-tier system of DTS high definition audio - DTS-HD - based solutions,  that have been specifically designed to match the clear and vivid images produced by Blu-ray discs (and HD-DVDs). These high definition video devices can deliver up to five times the video resolution supported by standard DVD-video. DTS high definition audio formats - namely DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High resolution Audio, have been defined as optional formats for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD products.

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Together with their Dolby counterpart, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High resolution Audio are at present the only high definition audio formats that can complement the stunning pictures produced by today's high definition video devices, by delivering the highest quality multi-channel sound possible.

These DTS high resolution formats represent the latest extension to the original DTS Coherent Acoustics technology introduced in 1996 with DTS Digital Surround. The unique 'DTS-HD core plus HD extension' design renders DTS high definition formats as the most flexibly high performance audio formats for both content providers and consumers alike.

But why does DTS High Definition Audio sounds so good?

A Higher Bit-rate

DTS High Definition audio formats support exceptionally high data rates - with up to 24.5Mbps for DTS-HD Master Audio and 6.0Mbps for DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. At these high data rates, DTS High Definition formats have the ability of delivering either all, or practically all, of the original audio information, depending on the bit-rate and high definition audio format in use.

Higher Sampling Frequency and Bit Depth

Directly coupled with the higher bit-rate of DTS High Definition audio is a higher sampling frequency of up to 96kHz and a greater bit depth per sample of 24 bits. Actually, this 96kHz/24-bit audio is also the driving force behind the DTS 96/24 high resolution audio format used on some standard DVD Video discs.

The higher sampling rate leads to a wider frequency response while the greater bit depth gives these formats a wider dynamic range for both movies and music. In other words, higher sampling rates and greater bit depth mean more realistic sounds, with a more accurate response, one that is capable of delivering more subtle detail and greater dynamic punch.

More Audio Channels

DTS High Definition audio is capable of up to 8 full-range channels of 96kHz/24-bit audio that can thoroughly immerse the listener in a perfect movie or music experience. These additional channels led to an improved surrounding soundstage that can practically eliminate any 'dead' zones in the surround sound field.

What do you need to enjoy DTS High Definition Audio?

To experience DTS high definition audio, you can use an AV receiver with a DTS High Definition decoder built-in, coupled with a new high definition Blu-ray (or HD-DVD disc) player. The new player can connect to your receiver via an S/PDIF or HDMI digital input (as detailed further on in this DTS-HD guide, HDMI ver.1.3 is required for DTS-High Definition Master Audio), or 7.1 channel analog inputs.

Furthermore, it is also possible to play back high definition discs with DTS-HD or DTS Encore through any DTS capable receiver equipped with a digital input and experience audio at 1.5mbps, i.e. at twice the resolution found on most standard DVD movies.

DTS High Definition Audio Formats ...in detail

DTS 96/24

DTS 96/24  

DTS 96/24 - though not part of the DTS High Definition audio family - is a high quality 5.1 surround sound format  designed to deliver 24-bit, 96kHz audio on DVD-Video. This means that it is comparable to DVD-Audio quality but does not require a DVD-Audio layer.

In addition, this DTS surround sound format is fully backward compatible at a reduced sampling rate of 48kHz 24-bit, with all DTS surround sound decoders. Note however that you need a DTS receiver with DTS96/24 decoding inside to get the very best out of this high quality sound format.

DTS96/24 can also be placed in the video zone on DVD-Audio discs, thus rendering the latter playable on all existing DVD players.

This means that when coupled with a device carrying the DTS96/24 logo, this format is capable of delivering sound quality that is substantially better than the 44.1kHz 16-bit CD Audio quality. The extended bit depth provides a wider dynamic range (approx. 140dB) while the higher sampling rates allow for a wider frequency response thanks to the use of anti-alias and reconstruction filters with more favorable aural characteristics.

Prior to the invention of DTS 96/24, it was only possible to deliver two channels of 24-bit, 96 kHz audio on DVD-Video. This high quality audio DTS surround sound format made it possible to have 5.1 channels at 96/24 while still supporting full-motion video for music programs and motion pictures soundtracks on DVD-Video.

The only downside of this format is that you will only find limited content with DTS 96/24 processing, and while it will continue to coexist with DVD-A, it is highly unlikely that it will ever become a mainstream format.

DTS-High Definition Master Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio  

DTS-HD Master Audio delivers true high-definition sound that is bit-for-bit identical to the studio master, while providing more than eight channels of lossless 96kHz/24-bit audio.

DTS-High Definition Master Audio delivers audio at super high 'variable' bit rates - reaching up to 24.5Mbps on Blu-ray discs and 18.0Mbps on HD-DVD, and constant bit rates starting at 1.5Mbps. These super high bit rates contrast heavily with the maximum of 768kbps supported on standard DVD-video for DTS Digital Surround.

Previously known as DTS++ and DTS-HD, DTS High Definition Master Audio supports a virtually unlimited number of surround sound channels though DVD-HD and Blu-ray limit the number of audio channels to eight. Maximum sampling frequency supported by this format is 192kHz at a sampling depth of 24-bits. Furthermore, it can also down-mix to 5.1- and two-channel for compatibility with existing standard DTS-enabled AV receivers, and can deliver audio quality at bit rates extending from DTS 1.5Mbps core - up to maximum lossless bit rates supported by this format.

This also means that connecting a DTS High Definition Master Audio bit stream with standard DTS-enabled AV receivers, would represent an instant upgrade in quality since DTS Digital Surround will be delivered at twice the resolution found on standard DTS-encoded DVDs.

DTS-HD Master Audio has been selected as an optional surround sound format for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD. DTS-HD Master Audio and its Dolby counterpart Dolby TrueHD, are the only technologies that deliver compressed lossless surround sound for these new high definition disc formats, ensuring the highest quality audio performance available in the new standards.

Connectivity: DTS-HD Master Audio requires an HDMI 1.3 or higher connection to a DTS-HD Master Audio decoder. HDMI 1.1 or 1.2 may also be used, but that requires that the audio data be sent to the AV receiver in Linear PCM form instead of raw DTS-HD Master Audio. A possible third option is that the audio is decoded by the player and output via 6-8 analog outputs.

DTS-High Definition High Resolution Audio

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio  

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio can deliver up to 7.1 channels of sound that is virtually indistinguishable from the original soundtrack. It is DTS high definition audio counterpart to Dolby's Digital Plus.

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio provides audio at high constant bit rates superior to standard DVDs to produce outstanding quality - reaching up to 6.0Mbps on Blu-ray discs and 3.0Mbs on HD-DVD.

It can carry up to 8 channels at 96kHz sampling frequency and 24-bit depth resolution, thereby providing high definition surround audio on content where disc space may not allow for DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD formats.

Like DTS High Definition Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio bit stream also contains the DTS 1.5 Mbps core for compatibility with existing DTS-enabled home theater systems, and delivery of 5.1 channels of sound at twice the resolution found on most standard DVDs - thus representing an instant upgrade in sound quality as further detailed above.

Support for DTS-HD High Resolution Audio is optional in both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

Connectivity: DTS-HD High Resolution Audio requires an HDMI 1.1 or higher connection to a DTS-HD High Resolution Audio decoder, unless it is decoded by the player and output via the analog outputs.

DTS Encore

DTS Encore  

DTS Encore delivers 5.1 channels of audio at 1.5 Mbps, twice the resolution found on most standard DVDs, thereby providing the best sound performance possible from currently standard DTS-capable equipment.

As indicated earlier on in this article, DTS Encore is not a sound format but a content name only in that it is designed to deliver standard DTS Digital Surround at its full 1.5Mbps bit-rate supported by this format instead of the 768Kbps limit found on standard DVD-Video due to capacity limits of the latter.

However, the introduction of Blu ray (and HD-DVD) media will enable consumers to experience DTS core at a full 1.5 Mbps, resulting in an immediate improvement in sound quality even if the Blu ray or HD-DVD player is connected to standard home theater hardware.

It should be noted that support for DTS Encore is mandatory in both HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

Connectivity: To enjoy DTS Digital Surround at its full 1.5 Mbps data rate, hook up any Blu-ray Disc or HD DVD player with DTS Digital Out, to an AV Receiver with DTS decoding support.

Simply connect a basic digital audio cable to the S/PDIF outputs and inputs of your player and receiver respectively. S/PDIF is a universal digital audio connection found on nearly all home entertainment products, and is available using both optical and coax type connectors. This connection will allow DTS Digital Surround at the full 1.5 Mbps data rate to be transferred to and decoded by your AV receiver, delivering improved audio performance.

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