PCM, DTS, Dolby Digital - What is Blu-ray Audio Codec

As you may know, DVD disc has great sound quality because its adaption of audio formats like PCM, Dolby Digital and DTS. However, those audio formats are lossy so that you cannot get the best output of sound. While Blu-ray disc supports lossless audio and can provide elevated surround sound listening experience. Those lossless audio codecs used in Blu-ray disc include PCM, Dolby Digital, LPCM, DTS:X etc. In this article, let's focus on such Blu-ray audio codecs and discover some specific information of these Blu-ray audio codecs.

What is That--The Interesting Blu-ray Audio Codec

Blu-ray audio codec is a way to store and transfer the audio data of Blu-ray disc. When speaking of it, you need to first figure out what is audio encoding and what is audio decoding.
Audio encoding is a method used to store the audio into the Blu-ray disc. You can apply a lot of formats to encode the audio into the disc. But you need to make sure that the audio encoding is supported by the Blu-ray player so that they can be read from the disc. While audio decoding or processing is where the audio being read so that it can be played through the amplifier and speaker. The decoding process can split the audio into multiple channels and send it to the speakers. So that's how audio codec works.
Audio encoding and audio decoding process may be the same thing but they still have something different. To understand these two processes will help you to better understand different Blu-ray audio codecs.

Several Amazing Blu-ray Audio Codecs

Now, the audio codec supported by Blu-ray disc include Linear PCM(LPCM), Dolby Digital (DD), Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS-HD Master Audio. Here below, I will show you some details on each of these audio codecs.

Linear PCM(LPCM)

LPCM, referred to as PCM Plus, is uncompressed audio encoding that applies a combination of values like sample sizes, sample rate, number of channels. It is a standard for Blu-ray. LPCM is a lossless audio coding that delivers CD quality sound, therefore it occupies huge disc space. Such audio codec is used to transmit uncompressed digital audio information via HDMI. LPCM supports up to eight channels of audio, which can provide encoding for 7.1 soundtracks.

Dolby Digital (DD)

Dolby Digital, also known as Dolby AC-3 or DD 5.1, can automatically provide a stereo version of the audio tracks so you can make your favorite movies or videos sound great on any devices. It is a lossy format that it compresses the audio to save space on the disc. Dolby Digital supports up to six channels of audio, which can provide surround sound limited to 5.1 and below. Such audio codec can be sent through HDMI or digital optical connections.

Dolby Digital Plus (DD+)

Dolby Digital Plus, known as DD+ or E-AC-3, is a audio encoding format. DD+ is an advanced surround sound audio technology that enables the Dolby Audio experience across home theaters, smartphones, operating systems and browsers. It supports 7.1 surround sound on Blu-ray discs, which allows for better audio quality. Please note that Dolby Digital Plus cannot be sent over coaxial or optical digital audio connections.

Dolby TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD is a lossless multi-channel audio codec which is used in home-entertainment equipment such as Blu-ray disc player. Dolby TrueHD supports up to 7.1 channels of high-definition audio, provide the most authentic surround sound experience available for your home theater.


DTS, known as DTS 5.1 or DTS Surround, is a popular home theater audio format that was developed in 1993 as a competitor to Dolby Labs. DTS is limited to a maximum of six audio channels for it compresses the audio to make the footprint smaller. It can provide surround sound codecs for 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 setups.

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio

DTS-HD High Resolution Audio is an extension of DTS 5.1 and increases surround sound support to 7.1 channels. It is a lossy format which compresses the original audio to disc and loses some of the resolution in the process.

DTS-HD Master Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio is a combined lossless audio codec created by DTS, and commonly used for surround-sound movie soundtracks on Blu-ray disc. With upwards of 7.1 channels of discrete surround sound and connected via copy-protected HDMI cables, DTS-HD Master Audio is at the pinnacle of surround sound technology for home theater.
So now you may have a clear understanding of the Blu-ray audio codec and know the difference between such Blu-ray audio codecs. When you play Blu-ray disc, you need to find out what audio codecs your Blu-ray player support and watch your favorite Blu-ray movies with fantastic sound experience.
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