DTS 96/24 - Definition and Explanation

Official DTS 96/24 Logo. Image provided by DTS

The DTS Family

DTS 96/24 is part of the DTS familly of audio and surround sound formats, that includes DTS Digital Surround 5.1, DTS Neo:6, DTS-HD Master Audio, and DTS:X, that are designed to enhance the audio experience for home entertainment and home theater listening.

DTS 96/24 Basics

However, DTS 96/24 is not so much a separate surround sound format, but is an "upscaled" version of DTS Digital Surround 5.1 that can be encoded onto DVDs, and as an alternate listening option on DVD-Audio Discs.

Instead of using the standard DTS 48kHz sampling rate, a 96kHz sampling rate is employed. Also, the standard 16-bit depth, the bit-depth is extended up to 24 bits.

As a result of these factors, more audio information can be embedded into the DVD soundtrack, translating into more detail and dynamic range when played back on 96/24 compatible devices (check your home theater receiver to see if it is compatible with DTS 96/24).

However, even if your source device (DVD or DVD-Audio Disc Player) or home theater receiver is not 96/24 compatible, that is not a problem as non-compatible devices can still access the 48kHz sampling rate and 16-bit depth that is also present in the soundtrack as the "core".

It must also be noted that undecoded DTS 96/24 bitstreams can only be transferred via Digital Optical/Coaxial or HDMI connections. On the other hand, if your DVD or Blu-ray Disc player can decode the 96/24 signal internally, the decoded, uncompressed audio signal can be passed as PCM via HDMI or analog audio outputs to a compatible home theater receiver.

DTS 96/24 And DVD Audio Discs

Another thing to mention is that on DVD-Audio discs, the DTS 96/24 track alternative is actually placed in a portion of the space allocated for the standard DVD portion of the disc. This allows the disc to be played on any DVD player that is DTS-compatible (which means over 90% of players).

In other words, if a DVD-Audio disc has DTS 96/24 listening option, you don't need a DVD-Audio-enabled player to play the disc.

However, when you insert a DVD-Audio disc into a standard DVD (or Blu-ray Disc player) and you see the DVD-Audio disc's menu displayed on your TV screen, you will only be able to access the 5.1 channel DTS Digital Surround, or DTS 96/24 selection option, if they are available (some DVD audio discs also provide a Dolby Digital option as well), rather than the full uncompressed 5.1 channel PCM option that is the foundation of the DVD-Audio disc format. Sometimes, both the DTS Digital Surround and DTS 96/24 options are labeled DTS Digital Surround on the DVD Audio Disc menu - However, your home theater receiver should display the correct format on its front panel status display.

More Info

Unfortunately, in terms of movie DVDs, there are very few that have been mastered in the DTS 96/24, most of the titles are only available in Europe. On the other hand, DTS 96/24 has been more widely used in Music DVDs and DVD-Audio discs. Check out the most complete list available of CDs and DVD-Audio Discs than include either DTS Digital Surround or DTS 96/24 soundtracks.

Since higher-resolution DVD-based audio formats are already available for Blu-ray Disc (such as DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS:X, there are no Blu-ray Disc titles that use the DTS 96/24 codec.