Dolby TrueHD vs DTS HD Master Audio: What’s the Difference

Dolby TrueHD vs DTS HD Master Audio: What’s the Difference

Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio are audio formats supported by popular Blu-ray players, AV receivers, and soundbars. They aim to provide realistic audio reproduction for home cinema. By connecting your TV and soundbar with a compatible HDMI cable, you can enjoy immersive surround sound for your home theater.

However, how do you differentiate between these two audio formats? Is DTS HD Master Audio superior to Dolby TrueHD? Or are the differences negligible?

Let’s delve into the technical details and compare Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio.

It’s going to be a long one, so let’s get started, shall we? But before we dive in, here are the best soundbars with Dolby Atmos and a comparison between HDMI ARC and Digital Optical Cable.

How Do These Audio Formats Work

Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio are lossless audio formats that minimize audio loss during transfer from source to ear. Note that audio quality is influenced by speaker quality and connection type. These formats, created by Dolby and DTS respectively, can be thought of as packaged files. When playing a CD supporting one of these formats, the receiver decodes the format to PCM signals, which are then sent to the speakers.

TrueHD and Master Audio differ in how audio signals are packaged and processed. Neither Dolby TrueHD nor DTS HD Master Audio can pass through digital optical cables.

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What Is Dolby TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD can transfer data at up to 18Mbps from Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Soundtracks generally have 8 discrete channels (also known as 7.1 surround sound) or 6 discrete channels (also known as 5.1 surround sound). The sampling rate for 8 channels is 96 kHz/24 bits, while for 6 channels it is 192 kHz/24 bits.

If the receiver doesn’t support 7.1 channel surround sound, Dolby TrueHD will fallback to standard 5.1 channel distribution. Incompatibility may be due to the soundbar’s features or a lack of a proper cable between the audio source and the destination.

Dolby TrueHD audio can be transmitted through compatible HDMI cables or 5.1 or 7.1 analog cables. Digital optical cables do not support Dolby TrueHD audio.

Dolby TrueHD vs DTS HD Master Audio: What’s the Difference

If you use a Blu-ray player or compatible soundbar, the signal will be decoded internally by the device and passed to the speakers. Not all Blu-ray devices support full 7.1-channel distribution. If the receiver doesn’t support 7.1 channels, the audio will downmix automatically.

What Is DTS HD Master Audio

DTS HD Master Audio supports 8 discrete audio channels. The difference is the transfer speed. TrueHD has a transfer speed of 18Mbps, while HD Master Audio has a speed of 24.5Mbps on Blu-ray discs. The sampling frequency is 96 kHz/24 bits. Like its competitor, it supports 8 and 6 channel audio tracks.

Dolby TrueHD vs DTS HD Master Audio: What’s the Difference

Decoding DTS signals depends on the player’s ability. If it’s a simple soundbar, the receiver will decode and pass the signal to the speakers.

A major advantage of HD Master audio is that it can play on older AV receivers. However, the audio quality won’t be lossless. You will still get the standard DTS Digital Surround soundtrack.

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Which Audio Format Is Better

Which audio format achieves better theater-like surround sound quality for home cinema? The answer is not simple. The DTS audio format has a higher transfer speed compared to Dolby, but this difference is not significant for the human ear. Both are lossless audio formats, and with a good quality connection, source, and receiver, you can hear studio-quality audio.

Dolby TrueHD vs DTS HD Master Audio: What’s the Difference

The main difference between DTS and Dolby TrueHD ultimately boils down to human perception. DTS is believed to deliver better quality due to its higher encoding rate, while Dolby TrueHD provides rich and detailed audio quality despite using a lower bit rate. In fact, Dolby argues that its audio formats are more efficient than DTS codecs, despite the lower bit rate.

The good thing is that most premium soundbars support both DTS and Dolby. In fact, the DTS:X format is now more common than HD Master Audio.

If you have a supporting device, your choice depends on your perception of the audio. If you prefer the rich and warm audio of Dolby TrueHD, then that’s the option for you.

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