Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Differences between DTS and AC3

For those of you who have no clue what we are talking about, let us just say that the topic refers to sound systems. There are many different types of sound systems, each with some special characteristics that make them better adapted or suited for certain tasks as opposed to others. Moreover, there are situations and places where only some can be used as others have certain drawbacks.

To begin with, DTS, owned by DTS, Inc. refers to a series of multi-channel audio technologies. The abbreviation DTS is the short form of Digital Theatre Systems and that is the former name of the company. The American company DTS, Inc. specializes in digital surround sound formats that have a number of various applications including consumer grade uses, commercial uses and theatrical uses. It later became known as DTS Digital Cinema and went through further name changes as well with corresponding changes in ownership but throughout this time it has continued to develop and license DTS products in the home consumer market. Currently known as the Datasat Digital Entertainment, it has announced a range of high-end audio processing products. The DTS variants available today include versions that can support up to seven primary audio channels in addition to one LFE channel (or DTS ES). The variants are basically based on the core and extension philosophy of DTS, whereby an extension stream augments a core DTS data stream. The extension stream incorporates the additional data that is needed for the new variant in use. The core stream, in turn, can be later decoded with the aid of any DTS decoder, regardless of whether it understands the new variant or not. In the case that a decoder does understand it, it can modify it with respect to the instructions that are contained in the extension stream. This is what allows backward compatibility.

That is enough about DTS and now let’s explain what AC3 is.

AC3, which is short for Audio Coding 3, is a file extension for files that have surround sound and are used on DVDs. The file format was created by Dolby Labs with the intention of using it in Dolby Digital Audio on DVDs, the much so popular Blu-ray as well as other digital video formats. What makes AC3 sought after is the fact it increases fidelity compared to its previous format of surround sound standard, the Pro-Logic. It makes for a total bitrate of 384 kbps. If you need to reproduce the entire surround sound signal on an AC3 file, then you require a supported playback device such as a DVD player which is connected to a Dolby Digital supporting home-theatre amplifier. The file format is also common in computer audio as it can be easily interpreted by sound cards. Moreover, the audio files in most cell phones such as notification tones etc. are also in the AC3 format.

The sound quality of the two are more or less similar and more dependent on the output device but some say that DTS is slightly better. The same people say that DTS is clearer and sharper compared to AC3.

DTS is also generally louder than AC3 or Dolby sound. This is due to the fact that the latter uses a bit of metadata known as Dialog Normalization. This causes the decoder to decrease the volume by 4dB and that accounts for the quieter sounds of AC3 compared to DTS. It must be pointed out here that sounding louder does not imply a higher quality; you can merely turn up the volume in AC3 and the two are again on the same track.

Summary of differences expressed in points

1. DTS, owned by DTS, Inc., is a series of multi-channel audio technologies, DTS is the short form of Digital Theatre Systems, former name of the company, core and extension philosophy of DTS-an extension stream augments a core DTS data stream, it incorporates the additional data needed for the new variant in use. The core stream, in turn, can be later decoded with the aid of any DTS decoder; AC3 is short for Audio Coding 3, a file extension for files that have surround sound and are used on DVDs,  created by Dolby Labs

2. Sound quality of DTS is slightly better than AC3

3. DTS is clearer and sharper compared to AC3 according to some

4. DTS is louder than AC3


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