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Mastering HD PC Audio, Part 1

Table 1: Summarizing Blu-ray Sound Schemes

In Table 1, we present a summary of the information presented in the individual sections above on PCM/LPCM, Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD High Resolution, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio. You’ll also find data in this table about whether or not an SPDIF cable can accommodate the bit rates that the encoding requires (at maximum values, and at common values), along with information about which version of HDMI is required to accommodate the format without alteration or transcoding of some kind.

  • Instruct it to decode multichannel audio from some Dolby or DTS format (probably Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, if what we see about available Blu-ray Discs truly illustrates what kinds of audio tracks they contain) into LPCM.
  • Transport that LPCM data out of your PC and into a receiver or preamplifier/preprocessor via HDMI (any kind will do, from 1.0 on up)

Accomplishing this usually means working with your Blu-ray decoder software and its output options.

hd audio specs

Some observations about the contents of Table 1 are in order, by way of added explanation:

  • SPDIF Max is a Yes/No value that indicates whether or not the SPDIF connection can accommodate the necessary bandwidth. A "No" value indicates that this connection cannot transport the extensions outside the DTS core, or accommodate the Dolby sound track for the specified encoding.
  • N/A values for Typical bitrate for Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD High Resolution indicate my inability to find any commercially available Blu-ray recordings that include these formats, which makes those entries generally inapplicable.
  • HDMI describes the version of HDMI required to support the related audio format. The key information in this column of the table is that native support for any of the high-definition audio formats that involve extensions to the DTS or Dolby Digital core requires HDMI 1.3a. Because this is not yet widely (or even barely) supported in PC components, this is an important observation.

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