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DTS vs. DTS HD Master Audio

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I recently performed a firmware update on my Sony S300, and now enjoy Dolby True HD when it's available. While I've always been skeptical about audio tweaks, I've been very impressed with some of the surround mixes I've heard.

However, there's no indication DTS HD will be offered in future S300 firmware upgrades. I can't think of other compelling reasons to upgrade my player. Profile 1.1 is a minor attraction, but Profile 2.0 is pretty meaningless for my purposes.

My question then, is this: Is DTS HD Master Audio a significant step up from the "core" DTS I enjoy now? Are the soundtrack mixes different?
post #2 of 25
I won't say significant. But at least you can get full 7.1 channels The differences will be subtle, just like TrueHD vs DD. DTS core is part of the soundtrack mix unlike TrueHD where DD is not part of it. DTS-HD MA = DTS-Core + bits that are thrown away by the core.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post

I won't say significant. But at least you can get full 7.1 channels The differences will be subtle, just like TrueHD vs DD. DTS core is part of the soundtrack mix unlike TrueHD where DD is not part of it. DTS-HD MA = DTS-Core + bits that are thrown away by the core.

Thanks Foxbat. So if I understand correctly, the difference is lossy (DTS) vs. loseless (DTS-HD). Otherwise, they're the same. Is that correct?
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gary miller View Post

Thanks Foxbat. So if I understand correctly, the difference is lossy (DTS) vs. loseless (DTS-HD). Otherwise, they're the same. Is that correct?

Correct.
post #5 of 25
And the difference between lossless and compressed sounds amazing if everything is setup correctly.
post #6 of 25
Subtle but significant.. I notice an advantage to lossless particularly with dialog intelligibility and surround ambience & effects.. Bass... not much difference versus lossy.
post #7 of 25
Gary - You're going to get a range of answers on this - from little or no difference to huge improvements from lossless. You have no way to evaluate the basis of those answers. What equipment, how is set up, what's the listening room like, what discs? I suggest you visit an AV shop or a friend where you can compare for yourself in a situation close to your own.
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

Subtle but significant.. I notice an advantage to lossless particularly with dialog intelligibility and surround ambience & effects.. Bass... not much difference versus lossy.


I would agree with this in part. What I have found & Ive done ALOT of testing as I only recently being able to bitstream DTS-MA ....is it all depends.

If the track is a DTS-MA and say your player can only send the core DTS track to your AVR (like the first gen Sony ES player)...then I found the difference very slight. I mean very slight.

Comparing a standard dvd dts track to a lossless one does indeed provide significant differences.

I think the main issue with all of this is the source. With my Elite 09 Blu-ray player which cannot internally decode DTS-MA there are very sublte differences when I bitstream. I would say the LFE channel on the lossless track is a tad more defined and tighter.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

Gary - You're going to get a range of answers on this - from little or no difference to huge improvements from lossless.

I'm not surprised. I'm only surprised that I was so impressed with a few of the Dolby True HD tracks I sampled (Twister in particular). I was really blown away by the degree of detail and separation.

At least ten years ago, I picked up a couple of British AV magazines for a flight from Europe back to the U.S. I snickered to myself reading gonzo reviewers wax rhapsodic about the sweet sounds generated by exotic audio cables, line conditioners, and such.

I'm always on guard against this "believing is hearing" self-delusion, so I was prepared to expect a marginal improvement, at best, from Dolby True HD. It may still be that my memory is playing tricks, but I was startled by the clarity difference, especially in regard to dialogue and low level background sounds.

I'm still not certain though, if this is due to: A) loseless reproduction B) entirely different mixes for HD audio, C) a combination of A and B, or D) placebo effect.
post #10 of 25
Since you asked, I'm in the "little or no improvement" camp. Lossy DD 5.1 and the DTS core are less compressed on BD and offer considerable improvement over the same encodes on DVD. I personally have a hard time telling the difference between lossless and these higher bitrate lossy versions on BD.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gary miller View Post

I recently performed a firmware update on my Sony S300, and now enjoy Dolby True HD when it's available. While I've always been skeptical about audio tweaks, I've been very impressed with some of the surround mixes I've heard.

However, there's no indication DTS HD will be offered in future S300 firmware upgrades. I can't think of other compelling reasons to upgrade my player. Profile 1.1 is a minor attraction, but Profile 2.0 is pretty meaningless for my purposes.

My question then, is this: Is DTS HD Master Audio a significant step up from the "core" DTS I enjoy now? Are the soundtrack mixes different?

In summary, in terms of sound quality "Core" DTS sounds just as good as the master it was encoded from because the DTS core is encoded at a very high bitrate (only uses ~3:1 lossy compression) unlike Dolby Digital which has a compression ratio around twice as high. However, DTS-HD MA is mathematically identical to the master unlike DTS Core. Both sound remarkably similar, but only the latter delivers a mathematically identical waveform to the master.

So, if you are otherwise happy I would not upgrade. You will not see a large difference with DTS-MA over DTS Core; it is more placebo effect/marketing/mental happiness than actual sound quality difference. The biggest advantage DTS-MA offers is additional channels for Blu-ray since DTS capped the lossy core at 5.1 channels (not a limitation of lossy encoding, but one DTS placed for simplicity's sake on Blu-ray). However even there, you can get a very similar effect using Dolby Prologic IIx mode on the 5.1 lossy DTS core (which should be encoded with the rear channel in-phase in the surrounds) to extrapolate rear channels for 7.1 if your receiver supports it.
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys...very helpful, informative answers. It also sounds like you saved me the expense of an upgrade. I'd rather blow the money on discs anyway.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gary miller View Post

Thanks guys...very helpful, informative answers. It also sounds like you saved me the expense of an upgrade. I'd rather blow the money on discs anyway.

I know how you feel. I have a Pio 51FD and am very happy with it. While there is usually something newer and better out, often its more worthwhile to use your cash on something that will give you a bigger upgrade rather than a minor step up (I always recommend dual Buttkickers!) - or something that you can actually play on all this equipment like movies!
post #14 of 25
I have found the difference between DTS core and DTS-HD MA to be subtle. However, the difference between TrueHD and DD is more noticible. So my priority would be to have a player that decodes TrueHD before I would worry about DTS-HD MA.

With all that being said- it seems all the new base model blu-ray players coming out now have DTS-HD MA decoding built in. So you would not have to spend a lot of $$ if you want to upgrade.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by thebland View Post

Subtle but significant.. I notice an advantage to lossless particularly with dialog intelligibility and surround ambience & effects.. Bass... not much difference versus lossy.

You are absolutely correct. As a matter of fact, if I already owned a great pre/pro, I would not upgrade to get DTS-MA or Dolby True HD.
post #16 of 25
I'm finding this thread interesting because I'm trying to make the same decision. The main thing with me is the x-overs not being adjustable enough with the affordable players. This is an interesting read if you haven't already.
http://www.hemagazine.com/node/Dolby...PCM?page=0%2C0
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by William K View Post

I'm finding this thread interesting because I'm trying to make the same decision. The main thing with me is the x-overs not being adjustable enough with the affordable players. This is an interesting read if you haven't already.
http://www.hemagazine.com/node/Dolby...PCM?page=0%2C0

Crossover frequency controls are only applicable if you're running analog outs from your player to your A/V receiver. If you're using multichannel LPCM out via HDMI, the bass crossover still happens in your A/V receiver.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by demonfoo View Post

Crossover frequency controls are only applicable if you're running analog outs from your player to your A/V receiver. If you're using multichannel LPCM out via HDMI, the bass crossover still happens in your A/V receiver.

Right...my B&K Reference 50 doesn't have HDMI and I don't like the 80hz and above crossover in the affordable BR players because I have full size speakers with 12" woofers and a 15" sub.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gary miller View Post

I recently performed a firmware update on my Sony S300, and now enjoy Dolby True HD when it's available. While I've always been skeptical about audio tweaks, I've been very impressed with some of the surround mixes I've heard.

However, there's no indication DTS HD will be offered in future S300 firmware upgrades. I can't think of other compelling reasons to upgrade my player. Profile 1.1 is a minor attraction, but Profile 2.0 is pretty meaningless for my purposes.

My question then, is this: Is DTS HD Master Audio a significant step up from the "core" DTS I enjoy now? Are the soundtrack mixes different?

I don't know because I've never sat down long enough to seriously compare them, but I would say DTS HD-MA has more bass and better definition (judging from a few core DTS I've heard).
I don't know about you but I'd go "bananas" when my receiver would not light up when a disc had DTS-HD MA, so I've upgraded both my BR players, they are all bitstreaming DTS-HD MA
post #20 of 25
My player (pio 51) won't decode DTS-HDMA over analog yet, so I haven't finalized my opinion. Does anyone know the difference in data rates between the the DTS-core and DTS-HDMA rate for the same sound track? I thought DTS-HDMA was made up from DTSCore + extension to make DTS HDmaster bit for bit accurate.

So if DTS HDMA = (DTS core) + (DTS extension); does it make sense that if the typical DTS HDMA rate is ~3.8Mbps and DTS core = 1.5Mbps that the DTS extension is about 2.3Mbps of additional detail? That "seems" like it should be noticeable to me.

What is the typical data rate of DTS-HDMA on BD? I guessed 3.8Mbps but I don't know for sure.

I know I can hear a real difference between DVD audio at 448kbps and 1.5Mbps DTS core rates and that is a difference of 1Mbps... I can hear a difference between an Mp3 at 128kbps vs 256kbs. Now I know this isn't apples to apples and there are diminishing returns at higher and higher bit rates, but it seems like I should be able to hear a difference with 2x-3x the data rate.
post #21 of 25
I believe DTS-HD MA bitrate can be as high as 18mbps. Typically it's maybe around 6~9mpbs IIRC. There is a sticky thread in 'BD software' forum that lists all BD discs with bitrate for all tracks. Check it out.
post #22 of 25
you can not hear a difference because your setup is small
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanQ View Post

My player (pio 51) won't decode DTS-HDMA over analog yet, so I haven't finalized my opinion. Does anyone know the difference in data rates between the the DTS-core and DTS-HDMA rate for the same sound track? I thought DTS-HDMA was made up from DTSCore + extension to make DTS HDmaster bit for bit accurate.

Lossless codecs use variable bitrates, taking whatever bandwidth they need at any given moment.

Quote:


So if DTS HDMA = (DTS core) + (DTS extension); does it make sense that if the typical DTS HDMA rate is ~3.8Mbps and DTS core = 1.5Mbps that the DTS extension is about 2.3Mbps of additional detail? That "seems" like it should be noticeable to me.

Not necessarily. There's a rather steep improvement slope at the lower bitartes that levels off as the resolution increases. At some point, increasing bitrates offers no audible improvement. When does that occur? Some say the maximum lossy bitrates (DD at 640kbps and DTS at 1509 kbps) is about as good as it gets.

Quote:


I know I can hear a real difference between DVD audio at 448kbps and 1.5Mbps DTS core rates and that is a difference of 1Mbps...

You are comparing more than bitrates there. 448 kbps is the maximum Dolby rate on DVD. 1.5 mbps is the rate used for the DTS core tracks on Blu. The fact that the DTS core on BD sounds better than standard DD 5.1 on DVD does not mean that lossless is going to sound better than the DTS core.

Quote:


Now I know this isn't apples to apples and there are diminishing returns at higher and higher bit rates, but it seems like I should be able to hear a difference with 2x-3x the data rate.

As noted above, that doesn't necessarily follow.
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post

Lossless codecs use variable bitrates, taking whatever bandwidth they need at any given moment.

Also worth mentioning that lossy codecs have bitpools, and while the bitrate may stay constant it is impossible for the activity in each channel to stay constant. Thus whichever channels need bandwidth at any given moment can take the majority of the bitpool. Even in the extremely rare case where all 6 channels need maximum bandwidth (virtually impossible given the limited frequency range of the LFE), you still have a ~3:1 compression ratio with DTS Core - a very mild compression ratio around which studies have shown is indiscernable from lossless.

Quote:


Not necessarily. There's a rather steep improvement slope at the lower bitartes that levels off as the resolution increases. At some point, increasing bitrates offers no audible improvement. When does that occur? Some say the maximum lossy bitrates (DD at 640kbps and DTS at 1509 kbps) is about as good as it gets.

IMO DTS Core is significantly better than DD640. But, DTS-MA/TrueHD is not significantly better than DTS core. DTS Core has just enough bandwidth to ensure reference sound even though it is technically lossy. Even that being said DD640 still sounds damn good and I wouldn't avoid a title simply because it has DD640 only - though DTS core or better is preferable.

Quote:


You are comparing more than bitrates there. 448 kbps is the maximum Dolby rate on DVD. 1.5 mbps is the rate used for the DTS core tracks on Blu. The fact that the DTS core on BD sounds better than standard DD 5.1 on DVD does not mean that lossless is going to sound better than the DTS core.

It is also worth mentioning that usually DTS and DD tracks have different mixes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Q View Post

My player (pio 51) won't decode DTS-HDMA over analog yet, so I haven't finalized my opinion. Does anyone know the difference in data rates between the the DTS-core and DTS-HDMA rate for the same sound track? I thought DTS-HDMA was made up from DTSCore + extension to make DTS HDmaster bit for bit accurate.

So if DTS HDMA = (DTS core) + (DTS extension); does it make sense that if the typical DTS HDMA rate is ~3.8Mbps and DTS core = 1.5Mbps that the DTS extension is about 2.3Mbps of additional detail? That "seems" like it should be noticeable to me.

You sort of have it but not exactly. The actual DTS-MA stored data track is DTS Core + an extension packet. But the actual final DTS-MA stream is a totally seperate entity created on the fly from the data between both the core and the extension; this is why it is such a pain to "decode" - create is probably a better word.

And yes, it does take up a lot more space for lossless, DTS in particular due to the way they did it to maintain backwards compatibility in a single bitstream. But that space is not translated to actual sound quality differences, especially considering the percentage of bitrate increase.

For example, take a Blu-ray Disc Video encoding. You see a big difference between a video encoded at 5mbps and 10mbps. A decent difference between 10mbps and 15mbps. A little difference between 15mbps and 20mbps. Once you get up to the difference between 25mbps and 30mbps that same 5mbps means a whole lot less than it did in the first example (5mbps and 10mbps). The same thing happens in audio, there reaches a point of diminishing returns. In the case of audio, this is generally around a 5.5:1 compression ratio with lossy audio - when you hit that magic number, generally the differences heard as you allocate more and more bitrate become less and less audible; so, when you are talking about DTS Core (~3:1) and lossless, generally the difference is inaudible or so minor you'd never notice it when watching a movie.
post #25 of 25
Some of the points and assumptions I've read in this thread and reiterated elsewhere aren't quite what is said in the dts-HD Whitepaper.

Quote:


4.1 DTS Core Only or Core Plus Lossless Extension Encoding Process
In the case of core plus lossless audio extension in a single stream, the audio signal is split into two paths at the input to the encoder. One path goes to the core encoder for backwards compatibility and is then decoded. The other path
compares the original audio to the decoded core signal and generates residuals, which are data over and above what the core contains that is needed to restore the original audio as bit-for-bit identical to the original. The residual data
is then encoded by a lossless encoder and packed together with the core. The decoding process is simply the reverse. Lossless audio coding is always variable bit rate.

By 'reverse' I take this to mean the core and extension are encoded and decoded separately inside the decoder and the original audio is only combined at a late stage for output.

Quote:


6.2.1 DTS-HD Encoding Options for Content Creators
• The DTS core can be encoded with a scalable data rate of 768, 960, 1,152, 1,344 or 1,509 kbps, plus a DTS-HD Master Audio extension for higher data rates up to 18.0 Mbps for HD DVD and 24.5 Mbps for Blu-ray Disc.

So core bit-rates other than 1.5Mbps are possible on spec and it's 24.5 Mbps max. for BD. Of course whether studios actually use lower bit-rates is another matter.

Quote:


• The DTS core can be encoded at a data rate of 768 kbps or 1,509 kbps with 6.1 channels, 48 kHz/24 bit playback, plus a DTS-HD Master Audio extension for higher data rates up to 18.0 Mbps for HD DVD and 24.5 Mbps for Blu-ray Disc.

So the core is not restricted to 5.1 channels and 6.1 channels are allowed.
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