DTS HD-MA: What's the Difference? - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 03-17-2008, 02:06 PM
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Default DTS HD-MA: What's the Difference?

Ever since I first visited this forum way back in February (January?) '07, I've heard tell a lot about DTS HD-MA. I've heard tell comparisons with DD, DD+, and DTS MA. Now, I don't know what all of these differences amount to. I know the difference between 2.1 and 5.1 (and 7.1, but I don't have a 7.1 system). Beyond that, I'm clueless.

Would somebody mind explaining to me why DTS HD-MA is supposedly that much better? When I first got my 5.1 system last year, I was amazed at its quality, although it's not necessarily HD compatible. It's a JVC system that accepts either composite R/L input or optical input. (Of course, I use the optical in from the PS3.) And I do know that that sounds a heck of a lot better than the composite in I use from my cable box. And though I'm not 100% positive, I'm pretty sure I have a good idea why.

Anyway, getting back to the audio codecs... If the PS3 were able to decode HD-MA, would it be able to deliver it through the optical cable? Or would I need a system with HDMI or analog input? And is it one of those things where if I heard it, I would definitely know the difference (like the comparison between composite audio and optical audio), or would I have to be an audiophile to even care?
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:17 PM
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The difference in sound quality is pretty noticeable because the lossless audio tracks don't compress the information (lossy formats like DD compress the info into a smaller file, sort of like .wav files vs .mp3 files.)

With regular DTS and DD, you normally get audio at the rate of 384 kbps to 660 kbps, which is significantly compressed.

The next step up is DD+ and DTS-HD, which play at a rate of 1.5 mbps, which is not compressed as much as the lower options.

Lossless audio (PCM, DTHD, DTS-MA) plays at 4.2 mbps to 6.9 mbps, and is the same quality as the original studio recording.

You DO need to use either HDMI or multichannel RCA outputs to get 5.1-7.1 lossless sound, depending on what your player and receiver support. Optical cables do not have the bandwidth to carry more than 2 channels of lossless audio.
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:33 PM
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Blu-ray and HD DVD Audio Explained
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Old 03-17-2008, 04:58 PM
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Oh, thank you! This is invaluable. Looks like I've got some shopping to do. But first, I need some money. Oh, well. I guess I'd better keep on grinding at that overtime wheel.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:01 PM
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according to the article on Highdefdigest, optical (toslink) delivers ANY of the high def formats including trueHD. Wikipedia also states that optical cables carry up to 125mb bandwidth, so i'm a little confused by the statement in this thread....
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by jwwtaker View Post
according to the article on Highdefdigest, optical (toslink) delivers ANY of the high def formats including trueHD. Wikipedia also states that optical cables carry up to 125mb bandwidth, so i'm a little confused by the statement in this thread....
I thought optical was limited to 1.5MB??
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by aygie View Post
I thought optical was limited to 1.5MB??
You are correct, so long as we are talking about 5.1-7.1 surround sound. It can do higher with a 2-channel LPCM source.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:42 PM
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according to the highdefdigest and wikipedia, spdif is limited to 1.5mb and downgrades a HD signal to 2 channels, but it is silent on toslink, while wikipedia says toslink can handle up to 125mb/s
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jwwtaker View Post
according to the highdefdigest and wikipedia, spdif is limited to 1.5mb and downgrades a HD signal to 2 channels, but it is silent on toslink, while wikipedia says toslink can handle up to 125mb/s
Toslink is the physical connector, SP/DIF is the data stream protocol. Toslink can handle 125mbps, but the SP/DIF protocol cannot.

If it helps, think of it as a tricycle on a racetrack. The track can handle a lot more speed than the tricycle can.

Long story short, you CANNOT get above 1.5Mbps through the PS3 optical port, which rules out all the lossless formats including DTS HD-MA, TrueHD and PCM (with more than 2 channels).
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Old 03-17-2008, 08:19 PM
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ok that clears it up, thanks
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