Surround Sound Music Optical Formats
Which optical disc formats support surround sound? Continue reading for a list of optical disc formats used for surround sound music.
The Digital Versatile Disc (sometimes called Digital Video Disc) comes in 2 versions relevant for surround sound music: the regular Video DVD and the DVD Audio.
Between the DVD and the DVD Audio there was also the so called DTS Disc. Unlike DVD Audio, DTS discs don’t require a dedicated player. Most CD and DVD players can read DTS discs, the only requirement is a receiver capable of decoding the DTS stream.
A DVD Audio (or short DVD-A) carries uncompressed audio up to a sample rate of 96kHz/24 bit in 5.1 surround or 192kHz/24 bit in stereo. Most DVD-As also contain a DVD Video part with either a Dolby Digital or DTS stream for backward compatibility with regular DVD players. While there is always a menu on a DVD-A to navigate through the contents, some default to the surround tracks and can be started without a TV or screen.
Before the introduction of HDMI as a single digital connection for hi-definition audio and video, the only way to listen to the lossless surround tracks was by using 6 analog cables to the receiver. Toslink and optical connections usually used with DVD players can only transport stereo or lossy Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 streams.
The Super Audio CD (or short SACD) is a music only disc. Unlike the digital audio found on CDs and DVD-As called PCM, SACD uses Direct Stream Digital (short DSD). Some people prefer DSD over PCM and vice versa, in the end it’s a matter of taste.
An SACD can have up to three layers: a CD layer with regular PCM stereo (for backward compatibility), a stereo DSD layer and a surround DSD layer up to 5.1.
Like DVD-A, SACD needed 6 analog cables connected to the receiver, before HDMI was introduced.
With a capacity of up to 50 Gigabyte, a Blu-ray Disc (short BD) can hold multiple lossless surround sound formats and video, all playable by any current BD player.
PCM, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio streams up to 5.1 with a sampling rate of 192kHz/24 bit or 7.1 with a sampling rate of 96kHz/24 bit are possible.
Pure Audio Blu-ray
A Pure Audio BD is basically like a regular BD, but the main difference is, that you can navigate through the disc without a TV or screen.