Latest Audio Standards in a Nutshell

Everyone talks about 1080p vs 1080i but you don’t hear much about HDTV audio standards. In case you haven’t kept up with what all those Dolby and DTS logos on the DVDs, players, and TV sets, here’s a brief run down.

Dolby Labs

Dolby Pro Logic II logo
Dolby Pro Logic IIx logo

Dolby Surround (Stereo) was the first Dolby standard used for home audio. Next came Dolby Pro Logic which put out four channels including left, right, center, and a rear mono channel. Pro Logic II offered 5.1 surround sound system with two front, two back, a center, and a low frequency bass channel. Pro Logic IIx raised the bar to 6.1 or 7.1 channels.

Dolby Digital Plus logo
Dolby TrueHD logo

Dolby Digital Plus was developed for HDTV and is commonly used on HD DVD discs. The latest and greatest high definition Dolby standard is True HD which is lossless 7.1 channel format that is mandatory for HD DVD and optional for Blu-ray. You’ll need HDMI 1.3 to provide the high bit rate to handle seven discrete 24 bit, 96 kHz channels.


DTS logo
DTS-HD logo

Steven Spielberg, among others, brought out a competing standard to Dolby called Digital Theater System or DTS in the early nineties. The high end standard DTS-HD Master Audio goes head-to-head or should we say ear-to-ear with Dolby's True HD. DTS-HD delivers lossless 24 bit, 96 kHz audio and is an optional standard for Blu-ray and HD DVD .

Bottom Line

Lossless, bit-for-bit, exact reproduction of the master should level the playing field. However, the battle has begun and from what we are seeing, sentiment seems to favor DTS over Dolby at the moment. For now make sure that new HDTV sets or receivers support both True HD and DTS-HD.


Retrevo has manuals and reviews for all the latest audio gear. You can find the best values in receivers on Retrevo’s Product Advisor for receivers.

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