HD Audio explained


How many of your are aware of the Audio aspect in High Definition?

Many of us tend to limit our exposure to HD world in Video aspect only. Is this because of lack of awareness or plain ignorance.

 You ensure that you get the maximum screen size for your HD TV that your budget can afford. Did you ensured that you supplement that with a matching Audio setup?  If your current Audio setup with multi-channel speakers doesn’t carry DTD HD or Dolby TrueHD , then that means your Audio setup is not on par with your video setup.

So the question may arise how am I going to benefit from this?

To answer that let’s go back in history. If you are in your mid thirties, then your audio experience might have started by listening to Audio cassette. Then came Audio CD, then mp3.

Of course we know, the difference between our plain old audio cassette and a CD or Mp3 is analogue vs digital. But there is another angle to this – the level of compression or detail. In my opinion, if you compare audio recorded in cassette to CD or mp3, then the cassette gives an unaltered audio experience.  When an analogue signal is digitized, that involves a certain level of alteration and missing details during the process. And when it comes to mp3, there is further loss of detail from the original, as the audio information is compressed.

 The intention of mp3 format, is to store the audio information in compressed format as Hard Disk space was expensive when the technology was invented.

 But as time passed, disk storage got cheaper and you find a trend where the information whether audio or video , under went less compression compared to the past.  Films when it came in CD form, it started with VCD, then DVD, the HD-DVD or Blu-ray. Due to advancement in technology, we were able to pack more information on a disk of same size over a period of time.  If our VCD stored around 600Mb, then a DVD had a capacity of 5-8GB. Blu-rays tend to store around 50GB of information. We are ignoring HD-DVD in this discussion as that’s phased out.

When technology gave us the option to pack more data , we loosened our compression, which helps us in storing video and audio with less loss of detail.  We have reached a stage where we are able to store exact replica of the audio information which was as played live. Hence we term the current formats which store audio information as lossless.

Multi channel sound processing majors like Dolby Laboratories and DTS have formats which stores surround audio channels in lossless format. These are termed as the HD Audio formats.  You will find these formats available in movie titles available in Blu-Rays. So to enjoy lossless audio for your favorite movies , you need to enjoy the Blu-Ray versions on compatible home theater systems.

So what am I going to benefit from this? Will this make my movie watching at home more enjoyable?

The experience is very much subjective and depends on the audience.

If you are somebody who has never bothered even about surround sound or 5.1 or 7.1 channels , then, for you it’s just the same. But if you are somebody who like to enjoy the immersive experience of surround sound, then you will appreciate the additional detail and ambience created using these lossless formats.

So will it stop here ? The answer is – NO.

Technology will continue its innovation and we will continue our pursuit  to achieve the perfection in capturing what we hear with our naked ears.

We at this moment cannot predict what experience we will have in another 5 years from now. So until then enjoy the audio experience provided by DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD sound formats.

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