DTS vs Dolby Digital: What’s the Difference?

Saying that Dolby Digital is the same as DTS would be like saying Star Wars and Star Trek are the same thing. That statement would enrage the fans of both shows, and the same goes for audiophiles arguing for either of the mentioned surround-sound formats.

DTS vs Dolby Digital: What's the Difference?

Both formats are supported by most of the quality audio systems. They are both very good, and they deliver a great surround sound experience. The difference is mostly in the details because both use the same channel configuration – 5.1, which is typical for home cinemas. Number five represents five speakers and 1 is for the subwoofer.

For more details on the differences, keep reading.

Where Can You Find These Sound Formats

Both DTS and Dolby Digital are widely accepted and ingrained in modern technology. You will find them in all sorts of devices, including computers, next-gen gaming consoles, home cinema systems, Blu-ray players, computers, smartphones, and set-top boxes.

The 5.1 channel form is the most common for both sound formats. However, there are advanced versions of both formats, called Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, respectively. These formats come with HD surround sound and overhead speakers in 7.1 channel configuration. They are mostly used in cinema sound systems.

Where Can You Find These Sound Formats

DTS Basic Info

DTS is an abbreviation of Digital Theater Systems. It has been in direct competition with Dolby Labs since 1993 when it was founded. These two are constantly competing for the top spot in the surround sound industry.

The company was not that popular until Steven Spielberg used DTS technology while filming Jurassic Park. After that, their sales figures skyrocketed and DTS became a household name.

They were still not as popular as Dolby Digital, but they were getting there. DTS invented many modern surround sound formats over the years. One of those is the DTS-HD Master Audio lossless format.

Another is DTS-HD High-Resolution format with 7.1 speaker channel support for HD surround sound systems. Finally, they also launched the DTS: X which is a direct rival to Dolby Atmos.

Dolby Digital Basic Info

Dolby Labs developed Dolby Digital, an audio codec with multiple channels. Dolby was the first to offer the surround sound cinema experience and they are still the industry standard in this branch.

Dolby has been in the game much longer than DTS. Dolby Labs was founded in 1965 by Ray Dolby, who patented many innovative audio systems. The first movie that used Dolby Digital technology was Batman Returns, way back in 92.

Dolby came a long way since then; they made codecs like Dolby Digital Plus for HD sound for surround systems, supported 7.1 speaker channels, and many more.

Their lossless format is Dolby True HD, which aims to replicate the quality of the master recording of a movie studio, and does a pretty great job of it. The most modern and innovative audio system Dolby invented is Dolby Atmos, which is an object-based system.

Dolby Digital Basic Info

The Main Differences Between DTS and Dolby Digital

DTS and Dolby Digital are both amazing and they provide excellent surround sound feeling. However, there are differences between the two which can be used as a determining factor when choosing one over the other.

The bit rates and the amount of compression differ greatly between the two. DTS has a higher bit rate support and lower amounts of compression. For the standard 5.1 system, DTS uses bit rates as high as 1.5 megabits per second for Blu-ray or 768 kilobits per second for DVD.

On the other hand, Dolby compresses the same 5.1 channel audio way more. To be exact, that is 640 kilobits per second for Blu-ray and 448 kilobits per second on DVD. The difference is even more obvious in HD formats, where DTS-HD High Resolution supports a maximum of 6 megabits per second, while Dolby Digital Plus only supports as much as 1.7 megabits per second.

Who Is the Winner?

Dolby claims that their codecs are better quality and more efficient than DTS despite the lower bit rate. DTS claims that their quality is obviously superior and supports the claim with the numbers. Dolby has a slightly better speaker calibration and signal to noise ratio, but it is still a tough matchup.

However, both companies deliver top-quality surround sound to various devices. The companies and the fans will always argue their side is better, but honestly, the difference is virtually inaudible to a casual user.

Do you have a favorite? What are your arguments for siding with DTS or Dolby? Let us know in the comments right below.

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