New codecs worth making a switch right now?

Those of you who have updated to the two new codecs (Dolby True HD and DTS HD), is there a noticabble difference in the audio quality? I already have a blue ray player and a system with the codecs that were in place just prior to the two new versions.


Yes it is worth it. The improvement in sound quality is a quantum leap forward. Viewing cinema in the home with a good AV receiver and Blu Ray combo is mandatory Sat night entertainment for our family.

I just picked up the Talking Heads Stop Making Sense on Blu Ray. The sound playback is jaw dropping. I sat in the center seat with a smile from ear to ear from start to finish.
If yur Blu-ray player does the decoding internal and outputs PCM digital, then you don't need a new processor. Yes, the new HD audio formats are a major improvement over DD and DTS.
Prpixel- I don't believe all processors or receivers with HDMI from a year or two back are able to decode multichannel LPCM. I know that the McIntosh units are not able to do so.

It would be nice if we had a consolidated list of which units can and cannot decode multichannel LPCM (other than the newer units out in the last year).

Don't confuse LPCM with PCM. LPCM is the 7.1 channel high resolution output and can only be decoded by the new processors with DD-HD and DTS-HD codecs. In the audio setup of your Blu-ray player select PCM as the output for DD-HD and DTS-HD. This causes the Blu-ray player to decode the HD audio internally and down mix it to 5.1 PCM which any processor that has HDMI inputs and can process DD and DTS can decode. I've seen it done on many different Denon, Onkyo and Integra receivers. Also, I'm doing it on my own home on both Anthem AVM-20HD and Statement D2 processors using Panasonic Blu-ray players

Here's a link to the official Dolby Labs explanation.
Let me describe PCM/LPCM and the lossess codecs in some detail and how they relate to HDMI. Sorry for all the detail if you already know this.

First, most people use PCM and LPCM interchangeably. The L stands for "Linear" and deals with how the sampling is done. Although it is possible to have PCM that is not Linearly sampled, in most audio situations the signals are sampled with linear quantization. The difference does not have to do with whether it comes from a lossless decoder or not.

LCPM is non compressed format and is often found on BR disks. It takes up more space on a BR disk than the compressed lossless DD or DTS formats. But it can be sent directly over HMDI 1.1 or later and almost all HDMI receivers can handle it. It does not require a DD or DTS decorder.

The lossless DD and DTS streams are compressed (without loss of data). The decoder decompresses them and converts the signal into LPCM, which should be identical to a LCPM tract on the same disk, as long as secondary audio is not involved. This decoding can be done either in the player or in the receiver/processor. This LPCM from a player decoder can be sent over any HDMI (1.1, 1.2 or 1.3)

HDMI 1.1 or above can handle LPCM from either the lossless LPCM track on the BR disk or from the lossless decoders. HDMI 1.3 is requried to bitstream the compressed lossless DD and DTS formats directly to the receiver/processor.

So, for most processors/receivers that have HDMI 1.1 or 1.2, you can use a BR player that decodes the lossless DD and DTS formats and sends the LPCM stream over HDMI. You only need 1.3 if you want the processor/receiver to do the decoding.

Russ_I. I think you are correct that the McIntosh processors only use HDMI for video. Not sure if there are other high-end producers who do this or not. They are defintely an exception to the way HDMI is usually implementated.
Dtc, nice concise post. Thanks. I was not aware of what the "Linear" in LPCM referred.

Very good explanation. I learned something new.

Glad to help. I must say the whole HDMI/lossless codec situation is way too complicated. When I went to get my first HDMI system it took me forever to figure this all out. Hopefully as this becomes more commonplace it will all become easier.
Ndfan - actually, for Dolby Digital just moving to BR sounds better to me, even without HDMI. The bit rate is up to 640 kbits/sec which I find better than the 448 on DVDs.

Whether the lossless codecs and the higher bit rate lossy tracks sound significantly different often depends on the rest of your system, your room setup and your ears. Some people definitely beleave there is a major difference, others say they hear little difference. I am afraid there is no simple answer, unfortunately.

If your BR player decodes the new formats, you can try using the analog outs to your receiver (if so equipped) and compare that to the coax/optical sound. It is not an exact comparison since the D to A is done in different places, but it might give you some information.
Great feedback. Thank you. I borrowed an inexpensive Phillips BR with DTS-HD Master Audio and ran it through the analogue jacks on the receiver. I knew I'd need all those cables again someday. With a couple DTS-HD equipped action movies the sound was clearly much more crisp, clear and precise. In all channels the audio was sliced into very distinct pieces. It makes the playback I've been using seem a little smeared, although I thought it was great until I heard the difference. I'm sold. I was a little shocked at how much difference there acutally was. I'm using Marantz, Krell, Vienna Acoustics gear but I get the feeling that this would be an obvious difference regardless of your equipment. As always, it took listening to it on my own system to really understand if it's "worth" making the change. The new Oppo looks pretty good right about now.
What blue ray discs have people enjoyed that actually have the new HD-audio codecs on it? It seems when I look at Blue Ray movies; and music videos; the Diana Krall live in Rio is one of few with HD audio...we make such a big fuss about being able to decode and use the new HD format; but when will the manufactures start incorporating this into discs that we can buy? The Dark Knight is another HD disc that I enjoy; but help me out; and offer some suggestions for me to try; to push my system and let me enjoy to the max.....