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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.

On DVDs you mostly find Live Concerts with either Dolby Digital or DTS encoded audio in stereo or surround.

DTS Dics

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.

DVD Audio

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.


  • synthetic

    May 16, 2012 at 6:38 am

    What about download formats? Are there any? If not, why not??

  • Sung-Kyu

    May 16, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Hi, the only commercial download format for surround sound music at the moment is FLAC, as used by 2L or LINN (altough only in stereo in the case of LINN). FLAC IMHO is the way to go, since it is open source and supports high resolution surround sound tracks. And you can play it back on PC, MAC, media streamer or high-end player like the Oppo BDP-93/95. It is the only lossless surround codec supported on this many devices. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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