Home Entertainment

Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, still not ready for prime time?

Dolby and DTS' new utra high resolution formats still haven't proven themselves.

As an audio guy I'm super curious about HD DVD and Blu-ray's high-resolution audio formats, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD-Master Audio. Yes, they've been around for awhile now, but listening to the super duper formats hasn't been easy. I haven't yet heard them at home, and show demos haven't been of much help in determining the sonic advantages of the lossless formats. The potential for much better than standard Dolby and DTS sound is there, but getting there, well, I'm still waiting.

Thomas J. Norton's recent Ultimate AV column described in detail just how tricky the road to high-rez sound can be, even for someone as tech savvy as Norton. Yes, you need a HDMI 1.3 HD player hooked up to a HDMI 1.3 A/V receiver like Onkyo's TX-SR875, along with discs encoded in either of the lossless formats, but even then, there's no guaranty you're gong to hear high-rez sound. Norton concludes that the first generation HDMI 1.3 Blu-ray and HD DVD players cannot pass Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio at FULL resolution. True, there may be new or modified chips that can, but Norton's unaware of any currently available players equipped with the new chip. What can I say, other than buyer beware?