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Old 12-12-2010, 07:38 PM   #1
KevinBlu-Ray KevinBlu-Ray is offline
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Default Dolby TrueHD vs. Dolby Digital 5.1?

Ok so lately I've been buying a lot of Blu-Rays with a Dolby TrueHD track and have noticed, after switching over to the original SD 5.1 audio track, they sound very similar. In fact, they sound the same.

Can anybody help me clarify what the difference is? Is there even a difference at all? I have a 5.1 Surround System hooked up and I have went back and forth to the two track options and heard nothing different. PCM and DTS-HD MA for instance, you can hear a major difference.

Is this just an easy lazy way out of calling it a Hi-Def track, when it's not? Someone mentioned earlier when I mentioned this (on Facebook), that this track works best on a 2 speaker system and it has something to do with the seperation of dialogue and action/bass?

My only fair assumption or conclusion out of this "Hi-Def" track is, that the dialogue "or" the track in general, is more crisp, clear and cleaner than the original SD 5.1 audio track. If you compare a Dolby Digital track to a DTS-HD MA track, it sounds very outdated. The dialogue seems washed out and really old fashioned. BUT, a big BUT, the bass/action driven part of the track is NOT uncompressed from the SD audio?

Is this correct?
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:56 PM   #2
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PCM = DTS HD-MA = Dolby's TrueHD. All provide bit by bit identical audio as the origianl PCM recording. TrueHD does have a "Late Night" function, which (as I understand it), reduces the dynamic range of the output of some, but not all, movies. Personally, I always turn the Late Night function off and with the 805 and many other products, you have to do this every time you play a TrueHD Blu-ray (the 805 always defaults back to "Auto").

All tracks are uncompressed with all three formats. They should sound identical assuming equal audio levels. However, not everyone can hear the differences between lossy DTS or Dolby vs. their lossless counterparts. IMO, the whole audio system from the recording to your ears can really make a big difference on how much difference an individual will hear. Some will notice a big difference, while others will not notice much, if any difference. In any case, the lossless versions should never sound worse than their lossy counterparts. If you year a downward difference then there is a problem in your system or system settings.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:10 PM   #3
KevinBlu-Ray KevinBlu-Ray is offline
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My point of this thread, though seeing a lot of related threads due to this type of question is, there is no difference from the DVD version Dolby Digital track to the Blu-Ray "lossless" Dolby TrueHD track.

I actually have been looking into this, popped in the Dark Knight just now and realized the defualt option is Dolby Digital 5.1 NOT Dolby TrueHD. So all this long, I've been watching it with the Dolby Digtal 5.1.

There is NO difference. I put my ear up to the center piece and switch back and forth to the two tracks (on Dark Knight) and the audio sounded the same. Same clarity, same cleanliness, same everything. Maybe it's the audio system you own, but with mine, I hear nothing.

I've also popped in the Reaping DVD and played the track and it was LOUD at the bull scene in the farm, just like the Blu-Ray counterpart of Dolby TrueHD. I've been trying to figure out WHAT this "lossless" codec results in. So far, it is the most pointless codec I've come across.

I might as well watch it with the Dolby Digital 5.1 option because it has the same bass driven, clarity as the so called "lossless" option. I think Blu-Rays should just stick to DTS-HD or PCM because those DO make a difference.


--

From my experience, here's what I've noticed.

PCM = A driven track that has been been pumped up in the volume. To me, it sounds like they cranked the volume up and set that up for the default track. There IS a HUGE difference. I've noticed the dialogue is a lot louder and the action is so loud you sometimes have to turn it down because it sounds very pumped. I own quite a few films with this "lossloss" codec and I noticed a difference from the original Dolby Digital track.

DTS-HD = A track where when action picks up, so does the volume. The dialogue is about the same as the DVD counter-part Dolby Digital, but more clear and clean, but when you get to the action scenes, the audio is really well driven and your bass gets a work out. This is probably the best method of codec, imo. It's more of a theater type codec, and is used greatly. I love hearing the action scenes pick up and getting a good work out with my bass.

Dolby TrueHD = A track that sounds the same as the DVD counterpart...waste of time. There is no difference. Unless you can figure out the difference?

Last edited by KevinBlu-Ray; 12-12-2010 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:19 PM   #4
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From experience, I say Dolby Digital...half of my LaserDisc/DVD's sound better than some Blu-Ray.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:47 PM   #5
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I don't notice so much an obvious difference between the two than little subtleties, mostly in music. I notice more clarity in soundtracks, whether it's orchestral or rock music. I notice things I didn't hear in a cd or radio if I had heard the song before.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:32 PM   #6
BIslander BIslander is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinBlu-Ray View Post
Can anybody help me clarify what the difference is? ... Is this just an easy lazy way out of calling it a Hi-Def track, when it's not? Someone mentioned earlier when I mentioned this (on Facebook), that this track works best on a 2 speaker system and it has something to do with the seperation of dialogue and action/bass?
Your Facebook friend is very far off the mark. DD 5.1, TrueHD, DTS, and DTS-HD are all just zip files used to save space. Encoding removes data and decoding restores some or all of it. DD 5.1 and DTS are called lossy codecs because they are so highly compressed that some of the original data cannot be restored. There are also varying levels of lossy compression used with DD 5.1 and DTS. A track on DVD will be more compressed than the same track on Blu-ray. TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are called lossless because all of the data removed during encoding is restored by decoding and final output is bit for bit identical to the original. But, again, this all just a zipping/unzipping process. None of these codecs change the original mix any more than a zip file changes the words in a document or the pixels in a picture. Also, this is data compresion, not dynamic range compression, which would alter the output.

Does a lossless track sound better than a lossy one? It seems like it should since there's more data. But, Dolby and DTS are quite good at removing data that cannot be heard. This is a hotly debated topic in various forums. Most people seem to agree that lossless is audibly better than DD 5.1 and DTS on DVD. But, there's less agreement over whether lossless can be distinguished from the less compressed lossy versions on Blu-ray. The prevailing view is that lossless may be marginally better. But, there are so many variables in equipment, set-ups, and room conditions that's it's hard to say for sure one way or another.

The question about TrueHD vs. dts-MA and PCM is another slippery slope. As noted earlier in this thread, when decoded, TrueHD and dts-MA are bit for bit identical to the PCM original. So, all three must be the same. However, Dolby has a feature called dialog normalization (dialnorm) that is not used on PCM and is rarely used with DTS-HD. Dialnorm simply turns down the master volume on playback, usually about 4dB. So, most DTS and PCM tracks are louder than Dolby tracks. Since people tend to equate louder with better, Dolby is often seen as inferior to the others. Simply turning up the volume will get the levels matched and differences should disappear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sptrout View Post
TrueHD does have a "Late Night" function, which (as I understand it), reduces the dynamic range of the output of some, but not all, movies. Personally, I always turn the Late Night function off and with the 805 and many other products, you have to do this every time you play a TrueHD Blu-ray (the 805 always defaults back to "Auto").
Just a point of clarification here: The Auto function on a receiver does not mean that DRC is engaged. It means that it will be engaged IF the disc instructs the AVR to do so. To the best of my knowledge, Ironman is the only disc that does that. So, you can leave your Onkyo on Auto without it using DRC. Also, Onkyo receivers are unusual in that they reset the DRC value back to Auto on power up. Most processors allow the user to set the value and it does not change back unless the user does it.

Last edited by BIslander; 12-12-2010 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post
Just a point of clarification here: The Auto function on a receiver does not mean that DRC is engaged. It means that it will be engaged IF the disc instructs the AVR to do so. To the best of my knowledge, Ironman is the only disc that does that. So, you can leave your Onkyo on Auto without it using DRC. Also, Onkyo receivers are unusual in that they reset the DRC value back to Auto on power up. Most processors allow the user to set the value and it does not change back unless the user does it.
Thanks BIslander. I thought that Ironman was the wierd one, but I could not remember for sure. I just wish that DRC would disappear. I think it is the anti-Christ of Blu-ray. I guess I just remember the bad old days when the dynamic range of most sources was near zero. Then CDs came along......although some analog records can have some real kick to them.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sptrout View Post
Thanks BIslander. I thought that Ironman was the wierd one, but I could not remember for sure. I just wish that DRC would disappear. I think it is the anti-Christ of Blu-ray. I guess I just remember the bad old days when the dynamic range of most sources was near zero. Then CDs came along......although some analog records can have some real kick to them.
DRC can be a useful feature in some circumstances, especially in situations where the volume must be kept quite low. That's when it really helps with dialog. I view it as a tool in the arsenal, although I don't know that I have ever used it myself.
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Old 12-13-2010, 08:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post
DD 5.1, TrueHD, DTS, and DTS-HD are all just zip files used to save space. Encoding removes data and decoding restores some or all of it.

TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are called lossless because all of the data removed during encoding is restored by decoding and final output is bit for bit identical to the original. But, again, this all just a zipping/unzipping process. None of these codecs change the original mix any more than a zip file changes the words in a document or the pixels in a picture.
Zipping is a lossless process, so the analogy to TrueHD and HDMA is accurate there. But we must exclude DD and DTS lossy codecs from the zip comparison. These are more akin to JPEG compression vs the source bitmap.

Quote:
DD 5.1 and DTS are called lossy codecs because they are so highly compressed that some of the original data cannot be restored.
It is not a consequence of excessive compression that prevents lossy codecs from restoring the original source data, it is because the fundamental design of lossy codecs is to preserve the perceived sound quality of the audio, and not the original data. By so doing, lossy compression can be vastly higher than that of zip or lossless compression.
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Old 12-13-2010, 01:04 PM   #10
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Interesting.
Quote:
Originally Posted by srrndhound View Post
Zipping is a lossless process, so the analogy to TrueHD and HDMA is accurate there. But we must exclude DD and DTS lossy codecs from the zip comparison. These are more akin to JPEG compression vs the source bitmap.
I don't understand the distinction. But, I also don't understand the technical part of either process. I used the term zipping because conceptually it is a process that most of of us untechnical types sort of get - that these audio codecs are not formats. Rather, they are compression schemes used to save space - similar to zipping up a file. Is that not a fair analogy?

Quote:
It is not a consequence of excessive compression that prevents lossy codecs from restoring the original source data, it is because the fundamental design of lossy codecs is to preserve the perceived sound quality of the audio, and not the original data. By so doing, lossy compression can be vastly higher than that of zip or lossless compression.
But, isn't the amount of compression required so that a soundtrack can fit on a movie filmstrip (DD 5.1) or a companion CD (DTS) responsible for the decision to create lossy codecs in the first place? Is lossless compression possible in the space available on films, CDs, and DVDs? If so, why was lossy chosen instead?
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:01 PM   #11
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I don't know, the Dark Knight True HD track is simply phenominal!! I notice many subtle differences in the two tracks and in a word the True HD track is AMAZING!! So is the True HD track in Transformers.
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIslander View Post
Rather, they are compression schemes used to save space - similar to zipping up a file. Is that not a fair analogy?
Not really, unless there is a lossy zipping scheme that when you zipped up a word document actually removed some of the words or punctuation in the document.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinBlu-Ray View Post
I think Blu-Rays should just stick to DTS-HD or PCM because those DO make a difference.


--

From my experience, here's what I've noticed.

PCM = A driven track that has been been pumped up in the volume. To me, it sounds like they cranked the volume up and set that up for the default track. There IS a HUGE difference. I've noticed the dialogue is a lot louder and the action is so loud you sometimes have to turn it down because it sounds very pumped. I own quite a few films with this "lossloss" codec and I noticed a difference from the original Dolby Digital track.

DTS-HD = A track where when action picks up, so does the volume. The dialogue is about the same as the DVD counter-part Dolby Digital, but more clear and clean, but when you get to the action scenes, the audio is really well driven and your bass gets a work out. This is probably the best method of codec, imo. It's more of a theater type codec, and is used greatly. I love hearing the action scenes pick up and getting a good work out with my bass.

Dolby TrueHD = A track that sounds the same as the DVD counterpart...waste of time. There is no difference. Unless you can figure out the difference?
Lossless is lossless, there is no difference whether you use PCM, dts-ma or Dolby TrueHD from the master, they are bit-for-bit identical. Any differences you hear from one movie to another are in the mastering and the source (or due to an error in your set-up), not in the codec.

To put it into perspective, do you think these movies accurately depict your assesments of each audio track?

PCM
  • 50 First Dates
  • Basic Instinct 2
  • Blackbeard
  • Clockwork Orange
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Flatliners
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • The Great Raid
  • I Know Who Killed Me
  • Life of Brian
  • Pretty Woman
  • RV

dts-hd Master Audio
  • The Fly
  • Robocop
  • Carrie
  • Jewel of the Nile
  • The Longest Day
  • Thing
  • Amityville Horror
  • Baby Mama
  • A Bridge Too Far
  • Be Kind Rewind

Dolby TrueHD
  • Batman Begins
  • The Matrix Trilogy
  • Cloverfield
  • The Dark Knight
  • Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
  • Eagle Eye
  • Hancock
  • Iron Man
  • Nine Inch Nails Live
  • Spiderman 3
  • Transformers

Do you find in Transformers or The Matrix or The Dark Knight that when the action picks up the volume does not?
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Last edited by dobyblue; 12-13-2010 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sptrout View Post
PCM = DTS HD-MA = Dolby's TrueHD. All provide bit by bit identical audio as the origianl PCM recording. TrueHD does have a "Late Night" function, which (as I understand it), reduces the dynamic range of the output of some, but not all, movies. Personally, I always turn the Late Night function off and with the 805 and many other products, you have to do this every time you play a TrueHD Blu-ray (the 805 always defaults back to "Auto").
S.O.B.!!!!!!!!!!!!
As I was reading this, I was thinking, are you frackin kiddin me.

I did not know this was going on, since reading I have tested a few movies and now I'm a little pissed. Guess I watch a few movies all over again... hehehe

Hearing the first Iron Man as one of the example was a huge difference. I do hate now that I have to check this before watching new movies from now on.
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Old 12-13-2010, 02:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sptrout View Post
TrueHD does have a "Late Night" function, which (as I understand it), reduces the dynamic range of the output of some, but not all, movies. Personally, I always turn the Late Night function off and with the 805 and many other products, you have to do this every time you play a TrueHD Blu-ray (the 805 always defaults back to "Auto").
Care to explain this further? How do I know if I'm listening to my movies like this? How can I make sure it's off?
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erman_94 View Post
Care to explain this further? How do I know if I'm listening to my movies like this? How can I make sure it's off?
As BIsander mentioned in a post in this thread: "Just a point of clarification here: The Auto function on a receiver does not mean that DRC is engaged. It means that it will be engaged IF the disc instructs the AVR to do so. To the best of my knowledge, Ironman is the only disc that does that. So, you can leave your Onkyo on Auto without it using DRC. Also, Onkyo receivers are unusual in that they reset the DRC value back to Auto on power up. Most processors allow the user to set the value and it does not change back unless the user does it."

Therefore, it is not normally a problem. With Onkyo products the Late Night function is an option when the AVR is receiving a TrueHD bit stream. The options are; on, off, or Auto. I have always just remembered to turn it off, but that does not seem to be necessary. I do not know how other manufacturers handle disabling this function, but with at least one exception, there is no need to worry about it.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HAMP View Post
S.O.B.!!!!!!!!!!!!
As I was reading this, I was thinking, are you frackin kiddin me.

I did not know this was going on, since reading I have tested a few movies and now I'm a little pissed. Guess I watch a few movies all over again... hehehe

Hearing the first Iron Man as one of the example was a huge difference. I do hate now that I have to check this before watching new movies from now on.
To be safe, I always turn this function off, but as BIslander mentioned, Iron Man is the only know problem disk so there is no need to change this function with every disk (but are there another evil-doers out there). Another reason I prefer to see disks with DTS-HD MA.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:16 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sptrout View Post
Another reason I prefer to see disks with DTS-HD MA.
dts-ma can do it too, it's all in how the disc is authored.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:22 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dobyblue View Post
dts-ma can do it too, it's all in how the disc is authored.
I don't think DTS-HD includes the DRC feature. DTS added dialnorm values to HD encoding, although they are rarely used. But I have never seen anything to indicate that DRC is supported, certainly not the kind of functionality being discussed here.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:27 PM   #19
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My only contribution is there is more OOMPH with the HD soundtracks compared to the regular 5.1.
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:04 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jawsfan1975 View Post
My only contribution is there is more OOMPH with the HD soundtracks compared to the regular 5.1.


I have Rambo on both DVD and Blu Ray and I must say that the DTS-HD version is "Much" louder and clearer on the Blu Ray than the DVD. I also find that on most of the Blu ray discs I prefer the DTS-HD Tracks, to me that sound more expansive in the surround, I own a Denon AVR-1611 and Just some old sony speakers ( All 5 have the same Timbre ). and with the new DTS-HD they sound so much better !
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