Dolby and DTS' new audio schemes worth it?

Do the newest compression schemes from Dolby and DTS sound any better than standard Dolby and DTS? The sonic differences are reportedly small to negligible.

DBJ listens at Dolby Labs. Home Entertainment

You bought an audio-video receiver a couple of years ago, and now you're wondering whether it's time to trade up and get a model that features Dolby and DTS' new lossless codecs, TrueHD and Master Audio, respectively.

Judging by the numbers they should sound markedly better than standard Dolby and DTS, but according to a recent article in Home Entertainment magazine, the sonic differences were small to negligible. You can read the full article here.

David Birch-Jones and HE's editor-in-chief, Geoff Morrison, visited Dolby Laboratories and DTS' headquarters to listen to the new formats under ideal conditions, comparing them to standard Dolby and DTS. Birch-Jones and Morrison were hard-pressed to hear significant differences.

I have limited experience listening to the two contenders, and I never managed to do speedy A-B comparisons. That said, from what I've heard, I thought that TrueHD and DTS Master Audio were better than the older formats, especially in the areas of imaging, spaciousness, top-end detail, and "air."

Ah, yes, but Morrison pointed out that even if you can reliably switch between, say, standard Dolby and Dolby TrueHD, and hear a significant difference between the two, the improvement may be traced to differences in the mixes of the two codecs on a given Blu-ray Disc. They may have been sourced from different masters, and that would account for the improved sonics.

Even so, film mixers and mastering engineers are just beginning to take advantage of the potential of the lossless formats, so I expect the sound encoded on discs to improve over the coming years.

How about you? What have you heard? Are you thrilled, or are the new codecs a big yawn?

 

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