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DTS vs. Dolby Digital:What you need to know

Like music, surround sound formats come in many standards. The two most popular supported by a wide range of high-end audio systems are DTS and Dolby Digital. The battle of DTS sound versus Dolby sound is a hotly debated issue. Some audiophiles argue that DTS is capable of delivering better sound quality than its Dolby Digital counterpart.

SummaryWhat are DTS and Dolby Digital?Differences between DTS and Dolby DigitalDTSDolbyWhich is more superior?Conclusion

This reasoning probably stems from the fact that DTS surround sound is generally encoded at a higher data rate than the corresponding Dolby formats. Others argue that Dolby Digital is much more advanced, as is its sound quality. In its defense, Dolby maintains that their codec is more efficient and can therefore operate at a lower bitrate. So which of these two multi-channel sound formats is more superior? Keep reading to find out.

What are DTS and Dolby Digital?

The main difference between DTS and Dolby Digital is bitrates and compression levels. Dolby digital compresses 5.1 channel digital audio data up to a raw bit rate of 640 kilobits per second (kbps). However, 640kbits/s is only applicable to Blu-Ray discs. The maximum bitrates that Dolby Digital can support for DVD-Video and DVD-Audio are up to 448 kbps.

To extract all relevant data, Dolby Digital uses variable compression of approximately 10 to 12:1. DTS surround sound, on the other hand, enforces a maximum raw bit rate of up to 1.5 megabits per second. However, this bit rate is limited to approximately 768 kilobits per second on DVD video. Due to the higher bit rate supported by this format, DTS requires considerably low compression of around 4:1.

In theory, the lower the compression used in the encoding, the more realistic the sound becomes because it better represents the original source. This means that DTS has the potential to produce better sound quality than Dolby Digital. Here's a breakdown of the different versions you'll find in each standard and their bitrates.


  • DTS Digital Surround – Maximum 5.1 channel sound at 1.5 Mbps
  • DTS HD Master Audio – Maximum 7.1 channel sound at 24.5 Mbps (lossless quality)
  • High-Resolution DTS HD – Maximum 7.1 channel sound at 6 Mbps


  • Dolby Digital – Maximum 5.1 channel audio at 640 Kbps (common in DVDs)
  • Dolby Digital Plus – Maximum 7.1 channel audio at 1.7 Mbps (supported by streaming services like Netflix)
  • Dolby TrueHD – Maximum 7.1 channel sound at 18 Mbps (lossless quality available on Blu-Ray discs)

Which is the most superior?

Comparing DTS and Dolby Digital in consumer applications reveals that the two standards are closer in terms of audio performance. Looking at the specs above, DTS seems to have an advantage over Dolby due to the higher bit rate in its three versions. However, higher bitrates do not always mean higher quality. There are other factors such as signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range that some audiophiles might consider better in Dolby than DTS.

Most modern receivers support both DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, so you might not even have to choose between the two. But if you're an audio enthusiast and want something supremely beautiful, you might want to look to technologies such as DTS:X or Dolby Atmos and the receivers and home theaters that support them. in charge. However, in the rare case where you have to choose between DTS and Dolby Surround, opt for DTS because of the higher bit rate.


Determining which format has superior sound quality is a very ambiguous question, as there are many factors to consider besides bitrates and compression levels. So where is this DTS versus Dolby debate leading? Both audio formats are capable of achieving almost similar results in delivering surround sound.

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