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5.1 v DTS

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by rich tee, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. rich tee

    rich tee
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    How does 5.1 compare to DTS?
    With there being DTS matrix and DTS discreet formats, which is better? Is there a big difference? Is it worth shelling out for a new amp for DTS over 5.1?

    Rich Tee.
    :confused:
     
  2. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    Remember that DTS does not necessarily mean more channels than 5.1. I guess you're thinking of DTS-ES.

    In short, DTS-ES Discrete is better than DTS-ES Matrix, but either type of soundtrack is compatible with either type of decoder. All DTS-ES Discrete decoders can also decode DTS-ES Matrix soundtracks.

    In DTS-ES Matrix, the rear surround channel is matrix encoded into the left and right surround channels, much like in Dolby Digital EX. Upon playback, it is extracted from the left and right surround channels using steering logic, again the same method as in Dolby Digital EX. This does not provide for full separation and stability between the three channels, and there is some leakage between them.

    In DTS-ES Discrete, the rear surround channel is both matrix encoded into the left and right surround channels, and added as a discrete channel into the data stream. Upon decoding, it is subtracted from the left and right surround channels to remove the matrix encoded version and restoring discrete left, right, and back surround channels. In other words, it is almost but not strictly discrete, but nonetheless a better method than DTS-ES Matrix.

    DTS-ES Discrete soundtracks are thereby compatible with DTS-ES Matrix decoders. When playing back either format through a 5.1 setup, the rear surround channel appears as a "phantom" channel in between the left and right surround channels.

    If you are planning on setting up a 6.1 or 7.1 system, you may want to make sure that the decoder supports DTS-ES Discrete, as it is nearly a de facto standard for newer 6.1/7.1 systems except in the lower end of the budget segment. Even there you may find it though.

    If you're planning to keep a 5.1 setup, you don't need DTS-ES for now as it won't make a difference there. You may want to upgrade to DTS anyway, as the DTS soundtracks on DVD's sometimes are considered to sound better than the Dolby Digital soundtracks. The exact reasons are debated, but can possibly be attributed to Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks on DVD's containing slightly different final mixes of the soundtrack.
     
  3. juniper

    juniper
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    I think you are trying to compare apples and pears here. DTS, an acronym for Digital Theater Systems, is a digital technology company, whose sound formatting, in various guises, some of which are mentioned above, appear on DVD and elsewhere, much like Dolby Digital. DTS sound encoding can be played in 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 or whatever you wish, depending upon the DTS variety, and whether you want discrete channels or otherwise, and what equipment/speakers etc. you have. If your amp does not support DTS, then buying one which does will not change "5.1" unless you have more speakers, and of course some source discs which produce more discrete sound (if that is what you seek).

    If you are however comparing DTS with (Dolby Digital) 5.1, then that topic has been covered a gazillion times on here, and I for one don't intend to go there :p
     
  4. rich tee

    rich tee
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    Cheers Guys,
    But this doesn't answer my question.

    Put the Two pints of lager side by side.
    Have you got 2 pints of stella?
    Or one of Stella and one of Tesco's value lager?
     
  5. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    Rich,

    I assume that when you're referring to DTS 'Matrix', you're referring to DTS-ES Matrix rather than DTS Neo:6 Matrix.
    The former is a decoder which decodes existing DTS 5.1 digital signals into 6 channels, with the extra rear centre channel derived (or 'matrixed') from the rest. The latter is a decoder intended to decode 2-channel analogue signals only into 6 or 7 channels depending on the number of channels on your amp and the number of speakers that you have.

    Anyway, if you're comparing DTS-ES Matrix with DTS-ES Discrete, although both output 6.1 channels of sound, the differences are definitely audibly obvious (or obviously audible, depending on how you look at it). Because the channel separation in 'Discrete' is discrete (!), you get 6 full-channels of sound and hence, a more complete and dynamic surround sound experience. Matrix produces 5 full channels of sound with an additional 'matrixed' rear centre channel, which in theory makes it inferior to Discrete. However, other factors come into play, for instance, the room size, listening volumes, soundtrack of film (for instance, action versus romance), multichannel amp, speakers, listening position and so on.

    So, in answer to your question, is it worth upgrading? Difficult one to answer as it's not as straightforward as it seems. You'll certainly be able to hear the difference. But you'll need to address other issues as well.
    In order to enjoy 'Discrete', not only does your amp need to have a 'Discrete' decoder, your DVDs need to be Discretely encoded as well, and in the UK, there's only a handful of titles (less then 5, including Blade 2, Nemo Finding etc.). Also, if your amp has 7 channels, then the differences will become even greater (instead of a single rear centre channel, you'll have two identical surround back channels). The Discrete decoder will also give you a degree of 'future-proofing' - for instance if and when Discrete 7.1 encoded DVDs do come out, those with DTS-Discrete 6.1 decoders MAY be able decode them. I say 'may' because nobody knows - even DTS themselves don't know for sure, although the the technology in present 6.1 Discrete decoders can certainly decode any appropriate encoding (whether it's 6.1 or 7.1). For that to happen, DTS must produce the right encoding, but cynics might say it may not be in their interests to do that, since if they do, then people don't need to upgrade their present 6.1 Decoders.

    In my opinion, if you're upgrading simply to switch from DTS-ES Matrix to DTS-ES Discrete, then it's perhaps not worthwhile. But if you're upgrading from DTS 5.1, then paying a few extra quid for Discrete rather than Matrix may be justifiable.

    Regards,
    reservoir51
     
  6. rich tee

    rich tee
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    Thanks Reservoir51,

    My current amp Kenwood 5030 doesn't decode DTS, But 5.1DD, from this perspective with my 5 speakers and sub in situ, would there be a noticable difference in sound quality, with DTS as opposed to 5.1DD? if I purchased say a Denon AVR 1905?
     
  7. Bruce1310

    Bruce1310
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    Hi Rich Tee

    You may notice a difference...not neccessarily a better one. As has been said, in a 5.1 configuration which which you seem to have, you may notice more clarity in certain DTS mixes. In my experience though this does depend on the disk itself...I've had DVD's with excellent DD soundtracks but very mediocre DTS soundtracks and visa versa.

    My thoughts would be if this is your sole reason for changing amps...don't.

    However I have to add that in a 7.1 system and a well decoded DTS-ES Discrete DVD the sound can knock the socks off 5.1. Examples would be the region 1 version of Gladiator and the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions.

    Bruce
     
  8. rich tee

    rich tee
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    Thanks Bruce.
    Respect.
     
  9. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    Rich, if you're comparing DTS 5.1 directly with DD 5.1, then it's a whole new can of worms altogether! DTS will argue that because they use higher data transfer rates, their sound is punchier and more dynamic, but DD will claim that their encoding/decoding technology is superior which produces better sound. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Audition it and hear for yourself. In my opinion, I think there are other factors at play as alluded to by Bruce, some of which are more important than merely the type of decoder used. Factors such as type of soundtrack, sound engineering, speaker system, amp, listening volume, room acoustics will inevitably impact on the differences between DD 5.1 and DTS 5.1. So, if you're thinking of 'upgrading' from DD 5.1 to DTS 5.1, my advice is don't. However, for only a few more pounds you could upgrade to DTS-ES Discrete, which will definitely be better in most respects than either DTS 5.1 or DD 5.1, that is if you use Discretely encoded discs (not many, as I mentioned previously) AND upgrade your speakers to 6.1 or 7.1. The latter will add further to the sense of sonic imaging.

    Regards,
    reservoir51
     
  10. mickbarlow

    mickbarlow
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    rich tee,

    imo Dolby Digital is cracking, but DTS seriously kicks ass!
     

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