[B]DOLBY TRUE-HD - how will it be available?[/B]

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Batdog, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. Batdog

    Batdog
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    Hi there

    Being an audiophile as well as a videophile I have a few questions concerning the Dolby True-HD audio format available with some HD-DVD discs. I believe that it is not possible to play these tracks back yet, rather it gets down sampled into DTS. I understand the reason(s) that it is not possible are that neither of the Toshiba HD-DVD players nor any current amplifier has a decoder for this signal, and additionally HDMI 1.1 and 1.2 are not compatible with the signal (I understand that 1.3 will support it).

    I’m trying to get my head around how it may be available in the (near) future and these are what I imagine may be possible – I’d be grateful if anyone is able to answer the questions that follow;

    A firmware upgrade for the Toshibas allows them to decode the signal and it can then be passed via coaxial or optical (not sure which the Tosh has) to an amp. Firstly, could this decoding ability be made available via an upgrade or would such a decoder only be possible in future new HD-DVD models? Secondly, if a current generation amp was fed this decoded signal would it be able to play it back OK or am I missing something?

    A firmware upgrade made the HDMI socket up to 1.3 spec and the signal gets sent to a next generation amp with the appropriate decoder. Is it possible to upgrade the HDMI spec via software updates like this or is the HD-DVD player stuck with the spec (v1.1?) it shipped with?

    Hope the above does not come across as too muddled, it’s just that I’ve heard all about the new format but have heard very little about how it is to be implemented. I don’t yet own a HD-DVD player or amp and so the answers to the above questions may influence whether I buy soon or hold off until next generation players / amps become available.

    Thanks
     
  2. Rasczak

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    A firmware upgrade to make the socket HDMI v1.3 would be impossible - it requires a new chip/ However there is simply no need for it on HD DVD. The specification for that format requires decoding of sound to occur in the player as output of the raw audio stream would not include any extra soundtracks/sound effects that you may have enabled. Ergo HDMI v1.1 does what is needed and no upgrade is necessary.

    A firmware upgrade for the Toshiba's has been rumoured which will allow them to output 5.1 high def audio via the analogue outputs. Guess we'll have to wait and see...
     
  3. av-phile

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    Being more an audiophile than a videophile, I am also curious as to implications of these two high def audio formats in the audio industry. I have come across a DTS article that said DTS-HD would render the battle between DVD-A and SACD history. Same with DolbyTrueHD.

    Which brought me to raise in another thread that only HDMI 1.3 can digitally carry these two native formats between player and amp for home playback and that for the moment, the launch HD players are merely transcoding them into PCM, DD or DTS so the degraded signals can be processed by current home theatre gears. In other words, it is not yet time to junk my DVD-A and SACD players.

    But it really is weird that even with HDMI 1.3 and with a hypothetical preamp that can decode these native formats, you may still not get the RAW formats out of the player if the content makers won't allow it. How is this so? If the player can recognize and play the format, the player should be able to output them, regardless of whether the content maker allows it or not, right?

    I don't know what other soundtracks or options would be disabled if the RAW signals are output from the player and not decoded within the player. What if i just want the player to be just a transport unit and I have a dedicated preamp/processor that I believe has superior decoding and DAC chips? Can't the consumer toggle between the option to have it decoded in the player (if indeed there are options to be disabled otherwise) and have it processed outside? If I have a concert HD-DVD of Eric Clapton or the Corrs, I certainly would want the native DTS-HD or DolbyTrueHD audio to come out of the player in the same way I can do that with a DVD's native DD/DTS RAW signals via S/PDIF. No transcoding in between.

    I hear the launch players are adequate for the job and eventually will output high def 5.1 analog. But if I have the external proper decoder box, what's the problem getting the native DTS-HD and DolbyTrueHD to input such a box?
     
  4. ianh64

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    I think your worries are probably unfounded. Meridian moved to the decode in player model years back and this allowed additional benefits, such as upsampling of DD/DTS/DVD-A that further increased the sound quality, even in their AAA class products. So it was a forward step for Meridian users.

    With Dolby True-HD being based on MLP which Meridian played a large part in, I wonder if the Dolby model was influenced by the success of the Meridian implementation.

    But then the decoder in the Meridian players are identical to the decoders in their processors and the link between the two was all digital 5.1 @ 96/24. With HDMI, the ability to do this is already here, at 7.1, with HDMI 1.1, so long as the source implements multi channel via HDMI and the processor has a multi channel HDMI >=1.1 input. So no need for early HDMI processor adoptors to upgrade their processor just to get Dolby TrueHD.

    With this model, the ultimate quality will be dictated by the choice of source and how well your decoder tackles jitter over HDMI. But you can still benefit from your processors quality DAC's.
     
  5. Ian_S

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    Ahem... PCM is not a downgrade. PCM is infact the format in which most multichannel masters for DVD-A are mixed, and is uncompressed and lossless, so is in effect the RAW digital sound signal. In the case of BD, that's what you start with on disc.

    Normally if you take CD, SACD and DVD-A as an example, a decent player has much better decoding capabilities (one dedicated DAC per channel or more in some cases) than receivers do. Hence most people use the analog outputs from such players. It will be the same for high resolution audio from the HD formats. Neither are any higher resolution than DVD-A was...

    The problem with PCM over HDMI is that the HDMI interface has no audio clock to speak of leading to issues over jitter, so until the decent manufacturers get to grips with it, is unlikely to sound better than the analogue outputs from the players. Obviously as mainstream players get cheaper, it's likely the analogue out quality will suffer opening up the HD market for the more audiophile brands to fill...
     
  6. Ian_S

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    As another comment...

    I don't see that the arrival of DTS-HD and TrueHD will herald either the absolute end of SACD/DVD-A, or usher in a new wave of high resolution multi-channel (or even stereo for that matter) discs. The market couldn't take two competing formats, we now have six, if not more...

    • DVD-A - PCM based
    • SACD - DSD based
    • HD-DVD + TrueHD - PCM based
    • HD-DVD + DTS-HD - PCM based
    • BD + PCM - obviously PCM based!
    • BD + TrueHD - PCM based
    • BD + DTS-HD - PCM based
    And that's ignoring DTS 24/96, and Dolby Digital Plus which on BD can be 1.7Mbps and on HD-DVD I think 3Mbps.

    So, which one do you release on? Which players will do all of those? More than one...? Three? Four??

    IF a format war wasn't enough, we also have a codec war, well battle, to contend with as well. Very disappointing tbh, and if high resolution audio wasn't dead already, or is at least in a coma, I don't see many signs of revival just yet. I don't even believe there is an HD-DVD-A format to follow on from DVD-A, so what now? No doubt Philips/Sony would have us believe that BD and SACD are the future...:rotfl: Trouble is for SACD, I don't think the music industry has any appetite whatsoever to move from PCM to DSD based tools. Whoops! :suicide:
     
  7. ianh64

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    Just to reiterate Ian_S's comments on the end for DVD-A.

    DVD-A uses MLP which Dolby True HD is a superset of. With HD-DVD players, both Dolby True HD and MLP are mandatory codecs, so *any* HD-DVD player must support MLP playback. What is not mandatory is support for the DVD-A disc format so, much like now with DVD players, I think we will see some players support DVD-A and others not.
     
  8. Nic Rhodes

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    As a purist I am not sure I want raw outputs from these players on either audio or video. HD DVD which I know a little more about is intricately linked with the decoding happening in the player, hence the P4 and 4 VERY powerful SHARCs. It will give all sort of operating problems if they output 'raw' as it is not designed to do so. Outputting PCM I think is an excellent method if they deal with the flaw in the HDMI interface, the audio clock, something I have been telling people here for probably 3 years now...For me I use DTS output or the analogue interface as the HDMI interface has little place with any one interested in audio current. This can change with engineering but engineering to do this is expensive.

    Even the best SACD players are doing DSD convert to PCM and they are happy with that choice as am I. For AV receivers it means that they can be simpler, cheaper and use the horsepower for more good uses like EQ.
     
  9. av-phile

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    Not always true. Two things: (1) If you're using a flagship receiver or a separate preamp/processor, the decoder and DAC chips are often superior to anything the player has. And many audiophiles use the player purely for transport purposes only. And (2) even if the decoding is better on the player side, I prefer to let the signal remain in the digital domain up to the very last minute, right before the power amps. Especially for CDs and DVDs. Using the analog output from a player, no matter how great the decoding and DAC processing is and compounded by the fact that the analog section often adds a greater share of THD + noise levels than a digital output, will only get converted back to digital on any HT preamp or receiver (plus the added noise and THD), unless you bypass their digital processing route. (But I doubt it if you can bypass it entirely. Aren't those receiver volume controls digital? So the signals still passed thru some ADC chip) And then gets converted back to analog just before feeding the power amps. So you have redundant ADC and DAC processing in the audio path.
     
  10. Ian_S

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    Depends upon your receiver. Mine allows complete bypass and the volume control is analogue and doesn't require the signal to be converted which I agree would be very undesirable... The analogue quality is excellent and it would have to be some receiver to better the likes of Arcam's FMJ CD players in the DAC department. I'd argue the next step up from a high level CD player ecoding is a dedicated stereo DAC, which again would output analogue into a high quality analogue pre-amp section.

    I'm with Nic on this one, the digital trickery on music :) audio doesn't do it for me yet.
     
  11. probedb

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  12. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    They don't but PCM multi channel has been in since 1.1 which is what current players use and according to Dolby will continue to output PCM multi channel as mixing is done in the HD DVD players. This may be done with a 1.3 chip however to get access to something like [email protected] or lip sync control that 1.3 gives.
     
  13. Timbo21

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    Obviously pre-amp/processors are often very expensive, & should do a better job than the player. There are certain brands I would be more trusting with the quality of DACS used on av amps/recievers. If I had the money I would be looking at Arcam & Primare for the £1500 - £2000 range. If you have a £1600 DVD player like an Arcam DV29, or Marantz 9600, then how much would have to be spent to get the same quality DACS?

    Also, one of the problems by using a reciever's DACS over a players is that you have to send the signal over a cable, which means incurring jitter. I do sometimes like to send via coaxial, & have the room eq turned on, but I find using my DV29's analogue outs into the reciever a more natural 'audiophile' sound, but if I had spent £4K on a pre-amp/processor & power amp I would b***dy want it to do a better job than my player.
     
  14. dannyboy104

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    I have a question regarding audio. At the moment I have a Toshiba A1 which I feed to my amp via the 5.1. input , and let the player do the audio decoding which sounds superb on the HD-DVD discs that I have so far. I would say its a step up from my d-theatre audio soundtracks.
    The problem that I think I will have in the near future, would be if I purchased a Blue Ray player, I have only one 5.1. input on my amp, so how would I avoid plugging unplugging five phono plugs each time I used either player?
    The amp has no hdmi inputs. I suppose I would have to use the digital out from either the Blue Ray or the Toshiba. Any help in this matter would be good.

    thanks
     
  15. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    The bottom line is BD want you to use the HDMI 1.3 conectors and haven't thought through getting the best out of what we have, unlike the DTS output of DD+ on HD DVD. A 5.1 switcher is a really good alternative here, Zektor do two nice ones that will switch 5.1 and they also have a 7.1 switcher coming. Else 5.1 from BD and digital from HD DVD (which is good by the way). The DTS full bit rate digital output from HD DVD is worth it's weight in gold as far as I am concerned.
     
  16. Ian_S

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    What Nic says is a good compromise, I'm not sure what the bitrate of the DD+ tracks are on HD-DVD, but unless they are using the full 3Mbps available, there may not be much difference between the DD+ original and the DTS encoded player output over normal SPDIF or Toslink. However, ultimately a high quality switcher or a new receiver with more than one 5.1 input would be the best route. I'm still unconvinced on HDMI 1.3 for transporting high quality PCM sound.
     
  17. Evil Engineer

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    On the basis of this "make the best of what we've got" principal, can someone please explain why Firewire (aka ilink) appears to have gone AWOL?

    It's perfectly capable of transfering high quality multi-channel PCM in the digital domain and it doesn't have the jitter issues of audio by HDMI.

    Sounds ideal to me. Either that or Denon Link once they decide what their next gen strategy is going to be.
     
  18. Evil Engineer

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    More than one 5.1 (or even 7.1) input?

    It's already like an explosion in a spaghetti factory round the back of my amp. :eek:

    I don't fancy anymore of that, thanks. :)
     
  19. Nic Rhodes

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    IEE1394 does have jitter issues, just not as bad as HDMI, but still not stellar. It is also less common than even HDMI. I have several IEEE outputs but no inputs on AV gear :)
     

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