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Dolby TrueHD

Dolby TrueHD logo as introduced in 2012.

Dolby TrueHD is a lossless, multi-channel audio codec developed by Dolby Laboratories for home video, used principally in Blu-ray Disc and compatible hardware. Dolby TrueHD, along with Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3) and Dolby AC-4, is one of the intended successors to the Dolby Digital (AC-3) lossy surround format. Dolby TrueHD competes with DTS's DTS-HD Master Audio (DTS-HD MA), another lossless surround sound codec.

The Dolby TrueHD specification provides for up to 16 discrete audio channels, each with a sampling rate of up to 192 kHz and sample depth of up to 24 bits. Dolby's compression mechanism for TrueHD is Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP); prior to Dolby TrueHD, MLP was used for the DVD-Audio format, although the two formats' respective implementations of MLP are not mutually compatible. A Dolby TrueHD audio stream varies in bitrate, as does any other losslessly compressed audio format.

Like its predecessor, Dolby TrueHD's bitstream carries program metadata, or non-audio information that a decoder uses to modify its interpretation of the audio data. Dolby TrueHD metadata may include, for example, audio normalization or dynamic range compression. In addition, Dolby Atmos, a multi-dimensional surround format encoded using Dolby TrueHD, can embed more advanced metadata to spatially place sound objects in an Atmos-compatible speaker system.

Blu-ray Disc

In the Blu-ray Disc specification, Dolby TrueHD tracks may carry up to 8 discrete audio channels (7.1 surround) of 24-bit audio at 96 kHz, or up to 6 channels (5.1 surround) at 192 kHz.[1] The maximum bitrate of an audio stream including metadata is 18 Mbit/s (instantaneous, since it is variable bitrate),[2] and a TrueHD frame is either 1/1200 seconds long (for 48000 Hz, 96000 Hz or 192000 Hz) or 1/1102.5 seconds long (for 44100 Hz, 88200 Hz or 176400 Hz). Uncompressed (LPCM) it can be >35 Mbit/s. Any Blu-ray player or AV receiver that can decode TrueHD can also mix a multi-channel TrueHD track into any smaller amount of channels for final playback (for example, a 7.1 track to a 5.1 output, or a 5.1 track to a stereo output) by merging discrete channels' signals (except the low-frequency effects channel, the ".1," in a stereo mixdown, which is discarded due to its sound not playing back well without a dedicated subwoofer).

Dolby TrueHD is an optional codec, which means that Blu-ray hardware may decode it, but also may not (for example, inexpensive or early players, Blu-ray computer software, or pre–Blu-ray AV receivers). Consequently, all Blu-rays that include Dolby TrueHD audio also include a fail-safe track of Dolby Digital (AC-3), a mandatory codec. Unlike the competing DTS-HD Master Audio, which encodes its primary (optional) track in terms of differences from the companion mandatory track, a Dolby TrueHD-equipped Blu-ray's primary and companion tracks are redundant; the Dolby TrueHD bitstream has no data in common with the AC-3 bitstream, but AC-3 is used to construct E-AC3 stream. Similarly to DTS-HD MA, however, Dolby TrueHD's dual tracks are opaque to the user; a Blu-ray player loaded with a Dolby TrueHD disc will automatically fall back to AC-3 if it cannot decode or pass through the lossless bitstream, with no explicit selection required (or offered).

Dolby TrueHD's prominence relative to DTS-HD MA began to decline around 2010.[3] It has experienced a mild resurgence as the encoding used for Dolby Atmos audio (especially in Ultra HD Blu-ray titles),[4] but DTS-HD MA is still more common on titles with non-Atmos lossless audio. Regardless, publishers such as Paramount Home Entertainment,[5][6][7] Funimation,[8][9][10] and Crunchyroll[11][12][13][14] still use Dolby TrueHD for their releases. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has recently used Dolby TrueHD on occasion.[15][16][17]


Audio encoded using Dolby TrueHD may be transported to A/V receivers in one of three ways depending on player and/or receiver support:[18][19]

  • Over 6 or 8 RCA connectors as analog audio, using the player's internal decoder and digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
  • Over HDMI 1.1 (or higher) connections as 6 or 8-channel linear PCM, using the player's decoder and the AV receiver's DAC.
  • Over HDMI 1.3 (or higher) connections as the original Dolby TrueHD bitstream encapsulated in MAT[4] (Metadata-Enhanced Audio Transport) frames, with decoding and DAC both done by the AV receiver. This is the transport mode mandated by Dolby Atmos.[4]

Because S/PDIF does not have sufficient bandwidth to carry a TrueHD bitstream, or more than two channels of PCM audio, using S/PDIF requires either falling back to a disc's Dolby Digital track or mixing the TrueHD track down to stereo.


  1. ^ "Dolby TrueHD". Dolby Laboratories. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  2. ^ "Technology Dolby Audio Dolby TrueHD | Dolby Developer". Retrieved 2021-08-30.
  3. ^ "DTS-HD Master Audio Becoming the Blu-ray Standard". January 15, 2010. Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c "Dolby Atmos for the Home Theater" (PDF). Dolby Laboratories. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 21, 2020. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  5. ^ Wonder Park Blu-ray Release Date June 18, 2019, retrieved 2021-05-18
  6. ^ Like a Boss Blu-ray Release Date April 21, 2020, retrieved 2021-05-18
  7. ^ Popeye Blu-ray Release Date December 1, 2020, retrieved 2021-05-18
  8. ^ Kakushigoto: The Complete Season Blu-ray Release Date August 31, 2021, retrieved 2021-07-31
  9. ^ Show by Rock!! Mashumairesh!!: Season Three Blu-ray Release Date August 24, 2021, retrieved 2021-07-31
  10. ^ A Certain Magical Index: Season Two Blu-ray Release Date August 17, 2021, retrieved 2021-07-31
  11. ^ Violet Evergarden: The Movie Blu-ray, retrieved 2024-01-12
  12. ^ One Piece Film: Red Blu-ray, retrieved 2024-01-12
  13. ^ Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Blu-ray (Blu-ray + DVD), retrieved 2024-01-12
  14. ^ Dragon Ball Super: Complete Series Blu-ray (SteelBook), retrieved 2024-01-12
  15. ^ Easter Sunday Blu-ray (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD), retrieved 2023-12-12
  16. ^ The Fabelmans Blu-ray (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD), retrieved 2023-12-12
  17. ^ Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken Blu-ray (Collector's Edition), retrieved 2023-12-12
  18. ^ Maestra, Rodolfo La (August 8, 2006). "HDMI Part 5 - Audio in HDMI Versions". HDTV Magazine. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  19. ^ "HDMI versions". 17 January 2017. Thursday, 19 January 2017
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Dolby TrueHD
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