DTS Master Audio – what’s all the fuss about?


The Sony Play Station 3 versus stand-alone Blu Ray DVD player discussion continues with the release of the latest firmware update for the PS3 which allows the latest AV audio codecs to come to the most prolific and versatile player in the market. Despite the launch of the new 1.3 compliant decks there is still a premium to be paid for a relaively modest increase in picture quality.

This also has to be pitched against that other wonderfully unique aspect of the PS3 – it’s position as arguably the best gaming engine on the market. With the launch of Medal of Honour and Gran Tourismo 5 any inconclusive purchasures (or old school die hard fans such as myself) now have an easier decision than ever.

So what’s stopping me? Well the problem is that I have now spent so long researching what’s good and bad in the market that I know about the PS3’s poor motion tracking and picture juddering during panning shots! And even after having seen the fantastic picture with my own eyes in a dem room (and it is an amazing upgrade from standard definition) I still can’t bring myself to purchase.

You see I was one of those unfortunate ‘early adoptees’ who waited just a while longer while the HD vs Blu Ray battle raged and finally took the plunge only when Toshiba made an HD player affordable, and with incentive enough (in the form of 6 free HD DVD’s!). It was a week later when Paramount announced withdrawal of their support for HD and the battle was won.

Anyway there are 2 other critical factors in my decision making process – firstly, at 40, I am determined to spend less time than I have in the past, absorbed by gaming. My ex-wife will tell you that the first release of Gran Tourismo consumed me, even though I’d deny it! Secondly – I am still unclear as to what software will be available to fulfill the use of the new DTS Master Audio codecs, and indeed, despite some very alluring statistcis (see chart below) I am yet to hear the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS Master Audio to convince me.

DTS MA vs Dolby Digital bandwidth comparison

The best 5.1 system I have heard to date was at the Bristol Sound and Vision Show 2007. It was in the Denon demo room in the basement of the hotel and featured their then top end SD dvd player connected through their own iLink cable to a top spec amp and through a 5.2 PMC speaker system. It rocked. They even put on my LTJ Bukem discrete 7.1 Earth DTS CD on for me – that’s how I know it was the best!

The best stereo system was a Bryston + PMC OB1 set up at the same show the year before. Roger and I just sat there in awe, but of course they never let us play our own source material!

So – what would I buy when I am convinced I hear you ask. Well. I’ve cogitated on this one for some time! My current system is as follows: Yamaha DSP A1 a/v amp, Rotel RB1085 THX power amp, Toshiba EP35 HD DVD player, Pioneer DV757a DVD player, Rotel RCD02 CD player, Paradigm PDR10 sub, Sharp VX1E projector,

…and the front runners are:
AV Receiver:
Yamaha RX2700, Denon AVR3808, Onkyo RX 905
DVD player:
Well it has to be the PS3 right! A new £350 Sony blue ray player has just been announced in Home Cinema Choice magazine with all the right specs (1.3 blue ray & HDMI… Coincidental hey!)
Projector:
Need to audition Panasonic LCD and InFocus IN82 DLP projectors
Sub:

For the time being 5.1 DTS mixes of LTJ Bukem’s Earth, BT’s Primary Universe, Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature, DVD Audio mixes of The Best of Simple Minds, and 5.1 mixes of Psychedelic Furs, Coldplay, and ELO will more than suffice!

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