Wednesday, July 26, 2006

About DTS-HD on select Paramount HD DVD titles...

Based on the specs of all initial Paramount HD DVD titles to be released this and next few week, Paramount Home Entertainment will include the standard Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 tracks for possibly all 3 languages - English, French & Spanish... similar to many other Universal Studios & Warner HD DVD releases. But what's significant about these Paramount HD DVD titles, is that they will all include either DTS 5.1 or DTS-ES 6.1 (I suppose both of these are at full bitrate unlike the ones on DVD which are at half bitrate).

Not only that, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow HD DVD will be the first HD DVD title to feature a DTS-HD 5.1 track. I will now elaborate summarily about DTS-HD audio format...

Since Dolby TrueHD means lossless audio, therefore DTS-HD is also lossless? Yes and no.

Dolby TrueHD tracks are definitely lossless, that is bit-for-bit similar to the audio masters used by the studio, while only DTS-HD Master Audio (note the 'Master Audio' portion of the term) refers to a lossless audio track which is theoretically suppose to sound similar to the Dolby TrueHD audio track if the same audio masters are used.

Generally, both DTS-HD High Resolution and DTS-HD Master Audio can be called DTS-HD, but only DTS-HD Master Audio tracks are lossless. Both datastreams can inherently contain the core component which can either be DTS 5.1, DTS-ES 6.1, DTS 96/24 or DTS NEO:6. It is due to the inherent inclusion of this core component in DTS-HD datastreams that HD DVD players with only DTS Digital Surround or DTS-ES decoders can decode and playback DTS-HD audio tracks. It is however important to note that only the core component is played back, so you still can't fully experience DTS-HD (Master Audio or High Resolution) on the disc without the relevant DTS-HD decoders. Note that from now on, when I mention DTS-HD on this blog, it means both DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS-HD High Resolution.

On the HD DVD player front, all the HD DVD players released to date are only able to decode the core component of DTS-HD bitstreams (DTS-HD High Resolution or DTS-HD Master Audio), that is DTS 5.1 or DTS-ES 6.1, given that those players only have a DTS Digital Surround decoder built-in since DTS-HD audio format is optional in HD DVD format audio specifications. However, future builds of the HD DVD player can include the relevant DTS-HD decoders should the playback equipment manufacturer desire.

I have yet to get the Sky Captain HD DVD but the back packaging seems to be a bit misleading, it does not seem to mention if it is DTS-HD High Resolution or DTS-HD Master Audio. I do hope that Paramount can be a bit clearer on that for future HD DVD releases. And lastly, yes, the audio you will hear being played back on Sky Captain HD DVD will be DTS 5.1. This trend is likely to continue until:

  1. Both players and DTS-HD capable A/V receivers that support HDMI 1.3 or
  2. HD DVD players that come with DTS-HD decoder built-in

are available.


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