Apple frequently uses the phrase “spatial audio,” particularly when discussing all of its headphones and other music products. You might not be aware that it is based on a technology that has been there for a while: Dolby Atmos. It is a standard that can convincingly mimic a 3D audio space with a pair of AirPods.
A well-liked surround-sound format is Dolby Atmos. It competes with DTS:X and can be found anywhere from home theater systems to the largest more expensive commercial theaters. You can now experience it on smartphones and tablets as well. Although this “immersive” format was initially created for movie theaters, it is now a new method to remix and enjoy music from some of the great artists like The Beatles and Ariana Grande.
What is Dolby Audio?
A digital audio coding method called Dolby Audio, formerly known as AC-3, lowers the amount of data required to produce high-quality sound. Dolby Audio uses this characteristic of the human ear to its advantage. The main aim o Dolby Audio is to deliver the best audio quality experience for any content you enjoy on a wide range of products.
How Dolby Audio works is that the frequency of an audio signal can conceal coding noise so that the human ear only hears the intended audio signal when the noise is near to the frequency of the audio signal. Sometimes the coding noise needs to be decreased or removed since it is not at the same frequency as the audio signal. The amount of data is cut in half compared to a compact disc by lowering, removing, or masking the noise.
Dolby Audio enables crystal clear audio so that you don’t miss a single detail. It also features surround sound, automatic volume control, and enhanced volume. Various High definition television (HDTV), digital cable and satellite broadcasts, as well as digital versatile discs (DVDs), all use Dolby Audio audio format. It was chosen as the audio specification for digital television (DTV). But the European DVB standard uses MPEG standard technology for both the audio and visual streams rather than Dolby Audio for audio.
For authentic surround sound, Dolby Audio offers five full-bandwidth channels: front left, front right, center, surround left and surround right. The sound for special effects and action scenes in movies is provided through a low-frequency effect or LFE channel. The LFE channel, which is occasionally referred to as the subwoofer channel, has a bandwidth that is one-tenth that of the other channels, and here the 5.1 channel multichannel architecture is used.
Dolby Audio’s 5.1 channel audio is not available to everyone, thus the manufacturers incorporated a downmixing capability to guarantee compatibility with any playing device. The audio signal is sent by the playback device’s decoder according to the capabilities of that particular device. For instance, a mono television receives a 5.1 channel audio feed. The television can utilize the audio signal obtained by the playback device by downmixing the 5.1 channel signal to a mono signal. Producers do not need to develop separate audio signals for each playback device because the downmixing is handled by the playback device.
Dolby Audio technologies
Here are some of the Dolby Audio innovations using advanced audio formatting and signal processing to deliver an excellent audio experience.
1. Dolby Digital Plus
This creates a high-quality surround sound experience while streaming, on-demand, and offline downloaded content using advanced algorithms. The Dolby Digital Plus technology contains 7.1 discrete channels for hi-fi surround sound that enables a cinema-style audio experience. Also, this technology is natively supported on Apple devices across Apple iOS, macOS, and tvOS.
2. Dolby Digital
The gold standard for content creators, it delivers ultra-efficient compression technology that reduces the size without impacting the quality. This is the standard for DVDs worldwide and all HD broadcasts in the United States. With 5.1 channels of high-quality audio that expands the left and right audio channels to deliver 360 degrees surround sound.
3. Dolby TrueHD
Delivering 100% lossless audio for movies, music, and TV shows. This means that what you hear is bit-for-bit identical to the master recording. With support for 7.1 channels for high-definition audio you get the most authentic sound. The Dolby TrueHD is capable of delivering 16 channels of top-quality audio.
4. Dolby Volume
Dolby Volume controls the playback volume and delivers a consistent volume for your TV, set-top box, A/V receiver, or other home theater. Now you don’t need to turn up the volume for soft-spoken dialogues or turn down the volume during roaring TV commercials. This sudden shift can occur across different content as each can have different levels of volume. Dolby Volume technology uses advanced algorithms to ensure that the audio stays true to the original recording at any volume level settings.
5. Dolby Pro Logic IIz
This introduces realistic surround sound introducing dimension to the audio experience. Dolby Pro Logic enables you to hear all the details and subtleties in movie games, music, and other media content.
6. Dolby AC-4
This is a new audio format in the Dolby Family that addresses the current and future needs of next-generation video and audio entertainment services. Dolby AC-4 has already been incorporated into various system-on-a-chip designers and part manufacturers.
What is the difference between DTS and Dolby Audio?
Both Dolby Audio and DTS can produce amazing surround sound experiences, but there are some significant variations in how they go about doing it.
- The main differences lie in the bit rates and compression ratios. For Blu-ray discs, Dolby Audio reduces the data rate of 5.1 digital audio to 640 kbit/s (kilobits per second). Up to 448 kbits/s is the lowest bit rate it supports for DVD discs.
- Comparatively, DTS is less compressed and offers greater bit rates of up to 1.5Mb/s (megabits per second). It supports up to 768 kbits/s for DVD discs.
- When you move up to the rival HD formats, the compression gap gets much worse. While DTS-HD High Resolution offers up to 6Mb/s, Dolby Audio Plus supports up to 1.7Mbps. Theoretically, less encoding compression results in more detailed audio that produces a soundtrack that is more similar to what was originally intended.
- Also, Dolby claims that because its codecs are more effective than DTS codecs, they can produce audio that sounds just as good or even better, even at bit rates that are lower.
But in the end, you can count on both to deliver an excellent home cinema experience, and frequently, your choice of the soundtrack will depend on which is best supported by your source material.
Which is Better: DTS or Dolby Audio?
DTS outperforms its competitor on the basis of specs alone thanks to greater bit rates that offer a more lifelike experience. However, many audiophiles would still rank Dolby higher than DTS due to additional considerations including signal-to-noise ratio and speaker calibration.
The greatest approach to improve your movie night is to make sure you have high-quality equipment, are set up correctly, and are given the best source content. Standards are continuously changing. In this way, whether it’s Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, you’ll enjoy exhilarating home theater entertainment.
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