Published On: August 8, 2023

Dolby TrueHD vs Dolby Atmos: Understanding the Differences

Published On: August 8, 2023
Last Updated on: August 17, 2023
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Dolby TrueHD vs Dolby Atmos: Understanding the Differences

Unravel the mystery of Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos. Discover their differences and how they can enhance your home theater experience.

Dolby TrueHD vs Dolby Atmos: Understanding the Differences

  • Beginning her career in IT, Natalia Videnov discovered her love for home theater design at a young age that propelled her to pursue her passion. Today, she channels her expertise into her writing at Home Theater Review, sharing her knowledge and ideas with a broad audience.

The world of surround sound audio technology brings us two notable terms, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos. While seemingly related, there are essential differences between these two. Let's dive into understanding what they are, their similarities, and how they work to deliver immersive audio to your home theater.

Understanding Codecs: TrueHD, E-AC-3, and AC-3

Before delving into Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos, it's crucial to recognize the significance of codecs.

  • Dolby TrueHD, E-AC-3 (also known as Dolby Digital Plus), and AC-3 (simply called Dolby Digital) are considered "codecs." These codecs are methods to compress audio data, enabling efficient storage and transmission.
  • Dolby TrueHD is a lossless compression codec, akin to FLAC. It compresses without losing any quality.
  • E-AC-3 & AC-3 employ lossy compression, similar to the MP3 format, where some audio information might be lost.
  • The older AC-3 codecs don't support Atmos at all, catering only to 5.1 surround sound.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos stands out as a object-based audio format. Unlike conventional surround sound, it introduces the concept of audio objects - supporting up 128 objects.

  • Object-Based Sound: This allows individual sounds to be positioned anywhere in a 3D space, creating a three-dimensional audio experience.
  • Flexibility: Dolby Atmos can be carried over TrueHD and DD+, providing various options in audio transmission and processing.

What is Dolby TrueHD?

Dolby TrueHD is a state-of-the-art audio codec designed to deliver high-definition audio. As a lossless audio format, it ensures that the sound you hear is identical to the original studio recording. It can support up to 7.1 lossless channels – compressing without losing any audio quality.

  • Quality: As a lossless format, Dolby TrueHD guarantees that no audio data is lost during compression.
  • Compatibility: It is compatible with Dolby Atmos, offering a pathway to immersive sound experiences.

Bitrates and Compatability

Dolby TrueHD, also known as MLP, is a lossless audio codec used widely on HD and UHD Blu-ray Discs. Dolby TrueHD supports up to 24-bit audio and sampling rates from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz. Dolby TrueHD supports up to 7.1 audio channels as well as Dolby Atmos immersive audio.

As Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec, the data rate is variable. For example, Dolby TrueHD bitrates average around 6,000 kbps for Dolby Atmos at 48 kHz with peak data rates up to a maximum of 18,000 kbps for high sampling rate multichannel content.

 Dolby DigitalDolby Digital PlusDolby TrueHD
Dolby Atmos 

The DTS Comparison

DTS, another major player in the audio industry, has analogous distinctions:

  • DTS:X is similar to Dolby Atmos, an object-based audio format.
  • The lossless codecs used to store DTS:X are called DTS-HD MA, offering an experience comparable to Dolby TrueHD.

Final Words

Navigating the complex world of audio codecs and immersive sound technologies can be challenging. Understanding the differences and relationships between Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos, and how they relate to other codecs like E-AC-3 and AC-3, provides a clear picture for consumers.

  • For the purist seeking audio without compromise, Dolby TrueHD adds increased quality with lossless audio channels.
  • Dolby Atmos add object-based sound on top of Dolby TrueHD, while also being available over Dolby Digital Plus.


1. What Is the Difference Between Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos?

Dolby TrueHD is an surround sound audio format that delivers high-quality, lossless audio, while Dolby Atmos is an object-based surround sound technology that adds height and dimension to the audio experience. Dolby Atmos can be delivered over Dolby TrueHD with compatible hardware.

2. Does My Device Need Special Hardware to Support Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Atmos?

Yes, both Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Atmos require compatible hardware for full support. This may include a Blu-ray player or streaming device that supports the formats, as well as TVs, AVRs, or processors capable of reproducing the enhanced audio.

3. How Does Dolby TrueHD Enhance the Audio Quality Compared to Regular Audio Formats?

Dolby TrueHD provides higher fidelity than regular audio formats by delivering uncompressed, lossless sound reproduction with greater detail and clarity.

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