Difference Between Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus

Dolby Digital vs Dolby Digital Plus

Originally developed by Dolby Stereo Digital in 1994, Dolby Digital is an audio compression technology. It efficiently transfers audio signals to the AV preamplifier/processor or receiver that has the capability in decoding it.

Definition

Dolby Digital provides an efficient audio technology for content providers in order to compress audio files size without diminishing its quality. Moreover, Dolby Digital utilizes at most six discrete sound channels. The audio from this technology is commonly included in DVDs and TV broadcasts.

On the other hand, Dolby Digital Plus is an improved audio technology which is based on Dolby Digital. It is a digital-based sound format in high definition which supports up to eight channels. Blu-ray discs utilize this audio format. In addition to that, it is also compatible with the interface of HDMI.

Surround Dolby Surround Sound Speakers System
Photo Credit: from pixabay.com

Key Differences

Media formats both utilize these audio technologies. However, there are notable differences between both. Provided below are the features they differ.

  • The number of sound channels – Dolby digital utilizes 5.1 discrete sound channels while there are 8.1 discrete channels in Dolby digital plus. Thus, the latter provides a more efficient audio compression and a greater bit rate.
  • Audio quality – With more channels and less compression, Digital Dolby plus has an improved sound and realistic audio feel. Furthermore, This technology enables the content creators to provide multi-channel audio with better bit rates.
  • Support – Dolby Digital plus covers integration with Blu-Ray players. Moreover, most tablet and mobile products support this audio compression.
  • Overhead – With Dolby Digital, high-quality content comes in greater file size. In contrast, Dolby Digital Plush allows the delivery of high-quality content in smaller file sizes.
  • Metadata – There is an improvement in metadata support for Dolby Digital Plus. With this in mind, it assures the viewers or listeners of having a consistent sound.

Dolby Digital Plus is an improvement for the original Digital Dolby version. To give you an insight into the difference between their features, you can refer to the comparison chart provided below.


Feature DescriptionDolby DigitalDolby Digital Plus
Number of Channels5.1 channels7.1 channels
Allows streaming and download supportYesYes
With Microsoft Edge and Windows 10 built-inNoYes
Support for Blu-rayNoYes
Mobile network supportNoYes
Stereo DownmixYesYes
Scalable for applications that require bandwidthNoYes
Data rateUp to 640kbpsUp to 6Mbps
Compression (mono-multi-channel)LossyLossy
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Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus use the same audio compression formats in surround sound speaker systems and both support HDMI and streaming. However, there are some differences between the two.

Sound System

Dolby Digital is a 5.1 surround sound system, which means it has five speakers (right, center, left, right surround, left surround), plus one subwoofer. Dolby Digital Plus, on the other hand, has 7.1 speakers. This type of system has the same number of speakers as a 5.1 system, but it adds two more speakers in the back and keeps the right and left surround channels as they are. If you’re keeping track, that’s four different channels. 5.1, on the other hand, has two separate channels for the surround and rear channels. Dolby Digital only lets you use five full-bandwidth audio channels, while Dolby Digital Plus lets you use 15.

Speakers

Another difference is the number of people who speak. The other system has eight speakers, while Dolby Digital only has six. Dolby Digital doesn’t work with mobile networks or Blu-ray players. Dolby Digital Plus, on the other hand, does. Also, Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge devices come with Dolby Digital Plus, but not Dolby Digital.

Bandwidth

Dolby Digital can’t work with Dolby Atmos but Dolby Digital Plus can. Also, the highest data rate for Dolby Digital Plus is 6 Mbps, while the highest rate for Dolby Digital is 640kbps. Last but not least, Dolby Digital Plus can be used to scale applications with limited bandwidth, but not Dolby Digital. This means that Dolby Digital Plus can still make great sound with a small bandwidth, while Dolby Digital cannot.

Overall, we can observe the improvement of the technology in Dolby Digital Plus to produce a better quality of audio compression for Dolby Digital.

Which is better: Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus?

At this point, it seems pretty clear that Dolby Digital Plus is the winner. It has better specs and more channels than Dolby Digital. Dolby Digital Plus is, at its most basic level, the new and better version of Dolby Digital. Of course, just because you’re a sequel doesn’t always mean you’re better. Just look at all the bad sequels out there! But there is no doubt at all with Dolby Digital Plus. Plus is better in almost every way you can think of.

More channels, Blu-ray support, pre-installed on Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge devices, backward compatibility with its processor, a higher data rate, more full-bandwidth audio channels, and so on. Also, Dolby Digital will be phased out over time. Dolby Digital may become less important over time because Dolby Atmos is only compatible with Dolby Digital Plus and not Dolby Digital.

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Dolby Digital Plus is better than Dolby Digital in the long run.

Videos

Here are some of the related videos that can provide you with quick insights into the difference between Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital Plus audio.

Dolby Digital 5.1 Speaker Test:

 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) (Frequently Asked Questions)

Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus, which is better?

Dolby Digital Plus is always better than Dolby Digital, no matter how many improvements it has or how many more channels of sound it has.

Is Dolby Atmos better than Dolby Digital Plus?

Dolby Atmos is the newer and better version of Dolby Digital Plus, but it is not used nearly as much as Dolby Digital Plus. Atmos will become the norm in time. For now, though, the technology that isn’t as good will still be more popular than the technology that is better.

Is there no loss in Dolby Digital Plus?

Dolby Digital Plus loses information. Dolby TrueHD is the version of the same technology that doesn’t lose any quality.

What type of Dolby audio do DVDs use?

Blu-rays usually use Dolby Digital Plus instead of Dolby Digital, which is used by all DVDs.

Dolby Digital Plus was first used by what streaming service?

Netflix was the first streaming service to upgrade to Dolby Digital Plus in 2010.

Summary

Formerly acknowledged as AC-3, Dolby Digital coding technique from audio reduces the data amount needed to create a sound with high quality. Correspondingly, it reduces the noise in the audio signal by masking it and allowing the human ears to only hear the clear sound.

As discussed, Dolby Digital Plus is an improved audio compression technology of the previous version. It provides more features such as Blu-ray applications, scalability, and mobile network support. Furthermore, it has higher data rates which allow better audio quality.


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Hey there, I'm James. I created FindDiffer.com, a website that helps people with their tech and electronics questions. I love to help others, and I'm always happy to answer any questions people have about technology! I finished Cornell University a few years ago, and now I live in the US. In my spare time, I like to work on new projects and play around with electronics. I also love spending time with my friends and family. Thanks for checking out my bio!