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What's the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS?


Dolby Digital and DTS are similar in that they are both digital lossy audio coding technologies, which means they use “perceptual” data reduction techniques that are based on the characteristics of human hearing to mask the process, thereby preserving high fidelity sound. This is necessary in order to fit the typical 5.1-channel bitstream into a given storage space or transmission bandwidth. Beyond those basic similarities, the two formats are very different.

The main difference is that Dolby Digital is designed to handle anything from mono to full 5.1-channel sound formats, and typically runs at data rates of 192 to 448 kbps depending on the number of audio channels and the application. DTS was originally designed for a data rate of 1411 kbps, and typically runs at data rates of 754 or 1509 kbps depending on the data capacity available. In order to achieve lower data rates than DTS with no sacrifice in sound quality, Dolby Digital uses many sophisticated data reduction technologies that DTS lacks.

The most commonly used data rate for Dolby Digital on DVDs has increased to 448 kbps, thus assuring optimal sound quality. Meanwhile, DTS data rates have been cut in half for most new DVDs, down to 754 kbps, potentially decreasing sound quality.

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