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High-def media doesn't end with a better picture

Matt Burns

The higher quality picture of Blu-ray and HD DVD isn't the only benefit of the formats. Oh no, interactive features, upgradable players, and support for high-quality audio formats are just as important. Many home theater enthusiasts will tell you that while a high-quality picture is nice, it's the audio that completes the theater experience and support for lossless audio tracks is just what the audiophile order. There are some limitations that the two completing video formats employs however. The standard bit rate of Dolby Digital is 384-448kbps while the new and improved Dolby Digital TrueHD's maximum bit-rat is 18Mbps, HD DVD cuts that to 6Mbps and Blu-ray undercuts it even more to 3Mbps. The other new 'high-def' audio, DTS-HD Master Audio format comes from DTS and this guy sports an impressive 24.5Mbps bit-rate. Thankfully, Blu-ray doesn't lower this and HD DVD only drops it to 18Mbps.

These better quality formats are possible because of the large storage that Blu-ray and HD DVD offers along with advances in audio equipment, but don't think you current equipment will work. Well, some of it might as long as you have 5.1 analog inputs since optical/digital coax jacks just don't have the bandwidth required for these formats. Most A/V receivers are equipped with HDMI inputs but you need HDMI 1.2 in order to receive Dolby Digital TrueHD and one of DTS's new formats: DTS-HD. HDMI 1.3 is required to get the DTS's other format and currently there isn't a receiver that has this yet. All this means that you should get sound that will rival a true cinema experience with deep, rich lows and crisp, full highs.

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