The buzz for the last couple of years in audio/video has focused on the video side, especially the 1080p and 3D formats. Both formats require encrypting and are sent out to your TV and audio system only via an HDMI cable. Blu-ray is the primary source for 1080p material. If you have not seen how much better a well-produced Blu-ray looks than a DVD, you are really missing out.
Two more technologies made a much quieter entrance into high performance audio/video, but they are just as important as the 1080p buzzword. What’s interesting is- they have nothing to do with video, but everything to do with audio! These new formats come from Dolby Labs and DTS and are Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. You need a Blu-ray player, one of the latest HDMI cables, and an audio system capable of decoding them to fully appreciate all they have to offer. And boy-do they have a lot to offer! A Blu-ray disc has far more storage capacity than a DVD and thank goodness the spec allows for huge audio improvements. Both TrueHD and HD Master Audio have up to four times the resolution capability of a standard compact disc. They also hold a bright future for even more enveloping surround sound, providing support for many more channels than are used in current home theater systems.
Since the dawn of the CD, some audiophiles have complained that compact discs were missing subtle details lost in the compression scheme. TrueHD and HD Master Audio are so far beyond CDs in both sample depths and sample rates, they bring us much closer to the truest musical reproduction.
These new levels of resolution can draw you much deeper into a well-produced movie, but the thing that gets me the most excited is how they affect concert videos. Producers can now go back to original master tapes of legendary performances from the past, remix those tapes to TrueHD or HD Master Audio, and capture pretty much an exact copy of those original master tapes. Think about that: what if you could both see and hear a performances of your favorite band from 30 or 40 years ago, just the way it was back then? One recent example is the Blu-ray of The Who At Kilburn: 1977. This recently came out and is a classic Who concert. I have to tell you, it is amazing.
Moving ahead 30 years to recent concert videos, the applications for True HD and HD Master Audio are even more astounding. When you take today’s technology and blend it with these two new formats, the performances you experience this way will blow your socks off.
Even if you have been putting off moving into the HDMI, 1080p world due to the fact you do not need a new TV; my advice is to make the move there with an upgraded audio receiver or processor and a Blu-ray player. This way you can enjoy now all the great sound these two new formats have to offer.