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Dolby Digital and DTS differences............

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Sigismund, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. Sigismund

    Sigismund
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    Hi all :)

    My brother recently asked me to sell his AV gear; he has a baby on the way and decided that an all-in-one Sony DAV-S888 would be more-suitable. I went and bought one and we set it up. It sounded OK in Dolby Digital, but when we switched to DTS :D - that was just about the size of the grin on his face!

    It got me thinking, though! I've read many threads here on this forum, about DDv DTS. Some people insist, "There's little difference", and encourage us to buy the DD version of a DVD rather than fork out lots of extra cash on expensive foreign DVDs with an "exclusive" DTS soundtrack. Others, of course, insist that DTS is the "bees nees" and is, invariably, better-sounding than the "bog-standard" DD soundtrack!

    Having read this article, and others like it, as well as the many reviews both here on the AVForums and elsewhere, it seems that those "in the know" insist that yes, there are differences, but, generally-speaking, those differences are quite small!

    Why, then, I wondered, does there seem to be this "chasm" of a difference of opinion, to such a degree that the term "DTS fan-boy" is now commonplace?!! Then, having heard the Sony DAV-S888 it became apparnt to me! If this is the difference some people are talking about, then they are right...............when comparing DD and DTS (on a Sony DAV-S888, at least), DTS is miles ahead in terms of not only loudness, but also placement, cohesiveness and "bassiness"! When I compared the same DVD's DD and DTS tracks on my system, Denon 3802, Tosh SD900, the difference was small!!

    So..........is it a simple case of "lower-end" systems making the difference between DD and DTS seem greater than mid-range or top-end systems do? Or to pose the question in a more cynical way : do some A/V manufacturers have a (vested?) interest in making one sound format sound more "in your face" than the other?

    Sigs

    EDIT - I forgot to add........May I ask all forum members who post a reply here - please do not allow this to degenerate into yet another DD v DTS "battle"!!

    Thanks ;)
     
  2. obiwan

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    I upgraded my dvd player and amp sometime ago to use DTS.

    So I moved the Yammy amp and Panny A350 upstairs to the bedroom.

    I got a Sony STRDB940 and Pioneer 717 and was so pleased with the DTS on DVD.

    I CAN hear the difference, far more detail, clarity etc. DD sounds almost muffled by comparison.

    I think I was just lucky with my speaker/amp selection as I think they go pretty well together, but I have been adding stuff over the years and if I wasnt happy I would have looked at changing stuff already. Thinking about it I havnt changed stuff for over a year audio-wise.

    As for the manufactures they wanna provide different levels of service I guess DD for the masses and perhaps DTS for those that know the difference. Unsure about vested interests, I dont know what companies have fingers in the DTS pie but all manufacturers would want to promote the best quality. Its just a shame that all DVD's are not equal in audio or video quality.

    So I guess its the movie houses that vest their interest in promoting their movies with DTS and DD.
     
  3. Dimmy

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    With my old Videologic Digitheatre DTS surround system the difference between Dolby and DTS mixes was truly huge.

    Especially with action movies like Lord Of The Rings - the difference was astonishing and truly had me in awe.

    With my Receiver/Separates setup the differences are far more minute. There's a little more bass depth and midrange depth, and more 'slam' to action sequences.

    I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's because the lesser use of compression in DTS soundtracks favours budget kit's processing a great deal more than it does higher-end kit, which does a much better job of coping with Dolby Digital's heavy compression?

    Regardless, DTS remains better on my newer kit, but 'only just', whereas on my old budget kit it was massively better sounding.
     
  4. wilber

    wilber
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    Oh no, not again!!!!!! Is there a Y in the day? oh well we'd better discuss the merits of DD v DTS.

    Sig your observation may be valid and it is an interesting point (but I don't really see it myself) but please don't lets's decend into the same thread we've read time and again.
     
  5. FoxyMulder

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    I bet this thread develops into the same old debate lol

    I have a Sony amp and sometimes the differences between the 2 formats are small, i believe a lot depends on what happens to the dvd or film at the sound mixing stage more than anything else.
     
  6. obiwan

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    yes

    dd v dts the revenge, halloween special :devil:
     
  7. mcmullanbrush

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    DTS v DD is currently a draw as far as I am concerned. I have two DVDs where DTS sounds better and two where DD is superior. The rest I either cant tell the difference, or I havent watched the disc enough times to make a fair judgement.
    I believe the main cause in my case is equipment, set up, room acoustics and personal taste.

    I think the phrase "DTS Fan-boy" is used because many find it difficult to accept that DTS is always superior, which is what some members seem to believe.
     
  8. Family Guy

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    Right!!! Outside the lot of you!!:mad:

    :D

    Only kidding - I, the original DD fan boy have succombed to the pull of dts. But the differences ARE slight - and subtle. I won't succomb to the £200 Japanes dts discs though...not when the same film is available for £7.99 in HMV - the differences aren't THAT good...
     
  9. Miyazaki

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    They re-release some films just to include a dts mix.

    This is usually where the dts mixes excel, such as Saving Private Ryan, and a LOT of superbit discs.
     
  10. Sigismund

    Sigismund
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    Come on lads....................BUNDLE :D ;)

    Army Bloke, after a brief "dabble" in the ever-so-slightly-expensive Japanese market :rolleyes: I have decided that I am now in agreement with you :D almost.

    I still prefer NTSC (you know why!), but DVDSoon and Movietyme have some excellent deals that just make the Japanese DTS club just seem way too expensive for such a small sound difference in the vast majority of cases! I will, in all honesty, probably still buy the odd "special" Jap. DVD, though :rolleyes:

    I found myself "hearing" your words of advice re: "I would never buy a poo film just because of an excellent soundtrack" every time I found myself strangely drawn into buying The Transporter on Japanese R2 for £25.00...............so a big thank you, there!

    Sigs
     
  11. Smurfin

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    I've always vehemently argued against DTS fanboys, their unquestioning, blind approach pisses me off tbh.

    I used to have a Yamaha 3090 amp, the original flagship amp which only featured Dolby Digital. When I finally changed the amp and got DTS...I was totally and utterly underwhelmed.

    However, that said now that I've been reviewing DVDs for a couple of months, it's part of my job to really listen to a DVD soundtrack, and draw comparisons where there is the option.

    Mostly people won't ever compare if they're viewing for pleasure, and will go for the DTS option without thinking about it. If they ever DO compare, it will always be on an action packed section where the main differences that people will distinguish is pure volume, and LFE extension (because they're the easiest differences to spot).

    My findings are that in some soundtracks there is no difference, in others it's a subtle difference and sometimes huge differences which no-one can deny.

    Overall, and after sitting on one side of the fence (i.e Dolby Digital) for some time, then REALLY spending some time comparing the options on DVDs, I have to say I prefer DTS.

    In EVERY case the Dolby option has NEVER been superior (there are exceptions of course, but I'm just talking about the reviews I've done), sometimes there has been no differences but in all cases, the DTS has either been equal or a more pleasing soundtrack.

    So what differences are there? Is it a case of simply volume?

    Volume does come into it, I'm sure - just play Jurassic Park Superbit DTS and compare to the DD version - and also try The One Superbit and compare the tracks. There is a NOTICEABLE difference in volume.

    But I would also say it's not just that. Turn up the volume on the DD Jurassic Park DVD and it still doesn't sound the same as the DTS option, simply because the mixes are different. There may be different processes of equalisation which will render the differences moot, but the bottom line is most people have fairly standard sound systems and will simply go on how a movie sounds at their usual listening level.

    However, "usual listening level" is also deceiving. How many people thought how amazingly dynamic LOTR FOTR R1 sounded when it first came out? People played it at their "usual" listening level and it "seemed" to sound so much better than many other discs. Why?

    Well of course LOTR has a great sound mix anyway, but the Dolby offset is 00db on that disc, which means it's recorded 4db louder than most Dolby Digital soundtracks. And it fools a number of people.

    The point I'm getting at here is a mixed one really! - DTS discs are often louder than their DD counterparts, which DOES fool people. However at the same time it doesn't just come down to volume....

    The main point I've noticed is how much more "forward" DTS mixes are over DD. Again it's not in every case, but it sounds livlier with more top end "sparkle". At the other end of the spectrum you have LFE, and the number of discs where this is different is huge: regardless of whether a DTS soundtrack is mixed differently (i.e there's no reason why the Dolby track can't echo the extension of DTS on a given disc), a higher level of bass will generally win people over.

    Again, Jurassic Park dts is another good example of this: play it in DTS and it grabs you by the throat, in Dolby it's more laid back and thus - because we're in blockbuster territory remember - the DTS wins hands down.

    It's not that Dolby can't match this, it's just in many cases it doesn't (for reasons I'm not clear on, but I don't believe it's compression).

    As for surrounds, again DTS are often onto a winner by mixing in louder surround effects, which unless they're over the top, results in a more "involving" surround experience. I love enveloping surrounds, and DTS does offer this in more soundtracks. Again, Dolby often sounds more "laid back".

    Detail. The one area where many disagreements occur. I don't believe DTS is inherently more detailed than Dolby, but when you consider differently mixed channels where - for example - the surrounds are louder, the effects will be more obvious and thus "appear" more detailed. On the other hand, I HAVE noticed more detail in some DTS tracks, this is related to the "forwardness" that is often quite distinctive, and again people also refer to this as "openness" and "clarity".

    I'm not sure where I'm going here so bear with me;) Bottom line is this, there are Dolby tracks which are identical to the DTS ones, and it's this reason why I don't believe DTS is INHERENTLY better than Dolby Digital, but many soundtracks are mixed so they're more PLEASING to the average home cinema enthusiast, who will likely prefer the more forceful approach of many DTS tracks (look at the money you spend on your equipment, after all).

    In my books I have to admit that makes DTS a winner.

    Is it worth paying alot of money to import DVDs with DTS soundtracks? No, imho, and I find it laughable that people spend £30 on a DVD purely because of a DTS track (thought even then I'd make exceptions such as JP). But would I pick DTS over Dolby Digital given the choice on the language menu? Yes.
     
  12. Dimmy

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    Matt - I think the Anti-DTS crew are basically trying to argue between which compression method is the 'best'.

    I think most people aren't going to deny that - on the majority of soundtracks - DTS options sound better, for seeming inapparent reaons you've mentioned.

    The argument really is for the accuracy of the encoding.

    [edit]

    Efficiency of the compression plays a large part too. A lot of people are against taking disc-space up with DTS soundtracks when they're happy with the dolby mix & enjoy extras.

    Myself, I'm not going to deny that many of my DTS discs upstairs contain DTS mixes that are noticeably better than the equivical Dolby mix.

    As your (very interesting) rant said, it's very much a subjective off-shoot of the mixing involved.
     
  13. Miniholic

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    I've always had a very open mind about the whole DD v DTS saga, but have recently bought the new R2 Saving Private Ryan SE. And I was very impressed.

    Normally I don't notice much of a difference, yes they do seem more impressive for action scenes (louder?:D?), but that could be down to the levels used at the mixing stage giving a perceived better quality, rather than actual improvements. But so what if this is the case, surely all that matters is that your personal preferred format sounds better to you, rather than what the experts are telling you which you should prefer.

    The standout moment in SPR for me was the night scene in the church, it seemed much more atmospheric, and the channel seperation seemed better too, especially at the rear, something you wouldn't necessarily notice on louder parts where all channels are competing for attention.

    I still love the DD mix of this film, but DTS seemed to bring something extra (I've also got the R1 non-DTS edition and didn't notice any speedup between the two DD tracks).

    At the end of the day, it's the film that should make us want to buy a disc, not the sound formats, but it is nice to have the choice (but not at an extra cost:thumbsdow).

    Sorry if I'm rambling but I've been up for 20 hours.

    Ian.
     
  14. Marv

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    I might aswell dip my yoe into this thread.

    I think i depnds on the age of the mix. Take an older film like...... Die Hard which has been remixed into DD5.1 and DTS there will be not alot of difference at all. But take a film made in the last 5 years and DTS will have the edge over Dolby. Films like Saving Private Ryan, Final Destination 2. Compare the soundtracks of those two films and the DTS will be the winner.
     
  15. Steve.EX

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    In my (humble) opinion and experience most people cannot tell the difference between what is different and what IS actually better.

    Steven

    (obvious examples for the sake of saying it, a shinier/brighter top end usually brings around the harks of "it's just so much clearer, detailed" LOL, rear channel lifts = "so much more enveloping" 2 x LOL, LFE lifts = "so much more dynamic" 3 x LOL etc etc etc etc etc.
     
  16. Smurfin

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    Why is that funny though Steve? Louder rear channels will make a soundtrack seem more enveloping:confused:
     
  17. Phil Hinton

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    Matt,
    JP R1 DTS turned up today thanks to Movietyme, it's on it's way for that comparison.
     
  18. Dean

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    I agree with you Mark and that lower price equipment benefit more from DTS. Always been more than happy with DD in my system, and my best sounding discs are in DD (THX). I would never pay more for a DTS soundtrack, but if it's bundled in for free so much the better.
     
  19. Sigismund

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    :) I'm glad you brought this up! I've recently received The Lion King and, although I haven't listened "in earnest", the new THX Dolby Digital does sound like a marked improvement over the original Dolby track....................in much the same way that people have described the difference they hear between DD and DTS!

    I just thought..................DTS wouldn't have lasted as long as it has, as a home cinema sound format, if people thought it was "the same" or noticably weaker than DD!!

    Smurfin.........I not only really enjoyed reading your post, but I agree with almost everything you wrote ;) :D I, for one, would appreciate your movie reviews even more if they were a little more like that post i.e. longer and more in depth, listing all those little nuances and technical details that I feel are missing in most DVD reviews. But then, that's just me!!

    Cheers,

    Sigs
     
  20. Steve.EX

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    Matt.

    What can i say? my beginnings are very much based in the 2 channel world so i guess i fit in the terminally uber anal catergory.
    If the rear channels are pumped up does that mean that DTS is better to you? to me it means that the rear channels are louder - different NOT better.
    The definition of better for me rarely has anything to do channels levels and lfe
    when comparing amplifiers, amp A may not be a better amp than B because it is brighter.
    I must go to work now but will come back to this and THX later-on.
    I do sit in in the pro-DTS or DD camp FWIIW.

    Regards

    Steven
     
  21. Family Guy

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    That's actually very interesting as that's probably the most innacurate piece of sound editing on the whole film. In the background, there is artillery going off all over the place. The sound arrives at the same time as the flashes, whereas we all no that light travels much faster than sound. Therefore, there should be a delay between flash and bang.
    In my job, we actually call this "the flash to bang time" and use it to judge the distance that the artillery is actually falling...:lesson:
     
  22. Reiner

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    You should have stressed seem instead of will. ;)

    There is no measure to say which format is better and there has never been a fair and conclusive test to determine what the listener perceive as better when comparing DD to DTS.

    You may argue DTS sounds better to you, it seems to sound better or you prefer the DTS track on a particular DVD (over the DD track) - but as long as you can't directly compare the two - and nobody can (and those who can don't want to) - any statement along the line of "DTS is better than DD" is just wrong or ignorant.
    Already different volume levels (of individual channels rather than the system volume) will corrupt your test 'result', as well you would need to guarantee that the encoding was done using the same master and the test was performed under exactly the same conditions, double-blind that is.

    I am not anti-DTS (why should I be?) in the same way I am not pro-Dolby (again, no reason here) but see myself rather neutral on the issue until a conclusive and valid result has been reached.
    But I argue against statements which can't be backed-up and as shown the facts (or the lack of those ;) ) speak against what is mostly an opinion only.

    Technical data mean nothing, the performance / soundquality is mostly dependent on the efficiency of the encoder / the algorithm used and as such not on the (higher) bitrate.

    That said I don't care which format is said to be better (or supposed to be better) - I listen to whatever I prefer or what I think sounds better to me, on my system, and that can be either DD or DTS. Perhaps it mostly depends on how much care has been taken during the mastering or encoding process and as usual the choice is yours. :)
     
  23. ndenbow

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    I think this discussion SHOULD happen once in a while. Obviously more people will be new to Home Cinema, and hardware will continue to evolve. It's good to hear good debate.

    For my tuppence, I have a DD v DTS issue. I have quite an old Kenwood receiver, which I suppose is deemed as fairly 'budget'. My arguament is not about 'loudness' or the quality of the surround speakers. More importantly I struggle with DIALOGUE on DD tracks. I find I have to turn the volume up, whilst occasionally turning down the surround speaker volumes just to make is comfortable to listen to. For example I was watching Donnie Darko the other night. Now there's a movie that you REALLY have to watch and listen to, especially with my wife ('him with the glasses, is he a goodie or a baddie?'- anyone?).

    I enjoyed reading the comments above. Thanks guys.
     
  24. Nobber22

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    Can someone please explain to me how the sound mix gets from the actual set where they film the movie to the DVD? How many microphones does the director place around the set? 1 = mono, 2 = stereo, 5 = 5.1 DD????? :confused: Does the sound recorder take whatever he has and then the sound engineers mix it up digitally for DVD surround sound?

    Following on from this, does anyone know of a film that was ONLY available in DTS when it was released? It seems to me that Dolby always mix the sound as DD5.1 first, then DTS come along and remix it. If DTS boys are always using a DD mix and then "doing their thing" with it, it stands to reason that DTS Inc. will be able to improve the track from the DD version. If DTS can't improve a DD5.1 track, they're in the wrong business.

    I'd like to see Dolby have a go at enhancing a DTS track - level the playing field again. We always hear about distributers going back to the "source material" for Superbit, for example. Why not use an existing DD/DTS track from the first DVD release and enhance that? Is there a finite number of remixes of a track before it becomes worse?

    If my understanding of sound mixing is flawed, please set me straight. :)
     
  25. Marv

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    Just got Star Wars Ep II dvd, lets see if those boys at Dolby can make me smile.
     
  26. Family Guy

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    If they don't, it's because your a dts fan boy...:D

    Try Crimson Tide in DD as well...absolutly stunning mix with tight LFE and a low end that goes through the floor.
    Also, if you can, try the new dts mixes of Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger against their Dolby counterparts...I think you'll be supprised. Bear in mind that CAPD was THE first movie mixed in the digital domain for home use on Laserdisc all those years ago, I think it's stood the test of time rather well...:)
     
  27. rags

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    i generally tend to pick the dts option when both are available on a disc. I dont tend to switch between formats to listen to which is better but i do if i have a problem / issue with the dts track.

    i have made comparisons between certain discs out of interest - spr, jp1, dances with wolves and a few others - I mostly preferred the dts mix however on shrek and a 007 film -cant remember which one- i preferred dd over dts.

    Interestingly I found the biggest differences between dd and dts were on Spielberg films ;) :nono:

    Would I pay more to get a DTS disc of the same film - yes to an extent - say for example when choosing between a r1 or r2 disc, i will buy the dts one if the difference is 1 quid or so.

    I have however succumbed to the very occasional bout of madness or dts fanboyness :D - for example recently ordered the jap version of the transporter and the korean superbit release of black hawk down - both for 40 quid delivered. :blush:
     
  28. FoxyMulder

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    Jurassic Park was DTS only when it first was released as i believe was Cutthroat Island and Stargate, also The Haunting and Jaws on dvd have exclusive remixed DTS soundtracks.

    Isnt Dolby 5.1 448kb/s using a 32millisecond delay for its channels where DTS uses a 10millisecond delay which is why DTS needs higher bitrates to achieve its results, i'm a DTS fan but i'm starting to read more about algorithms and how these formats are sampled and its interesting and i believe the gap isn't so big but i still prefer DTS.
     
  29. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Back again.
    I think the "problem" i have with this endless argument is that my definition of "better" is clearly somewhat different from A.N.Other.
    I often wonder why the more accepted and "stable" opinions of what good 2 channel music replay is about just seems to get thrown out the window with movie soundtracks DD/DTS etc.
    Do the same people who like a "full-on" surround channel experience or "monster monster" LFE moments complain when they play an SACD and feel the rear channels are over -cooked?
    etc etc etc etc etc etc
    IMHO we can apply the same high-fidelity requirements/understandings to A.V.


    Steven
     
  30. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton
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    I tend to believe AV sound and Hi-Fi are two seperate beasts altogether. Just my opinion.
     

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