Why is Dolby Digital 2 channels?

Updated 3 weeks ago by Logan Sturgeon

Scope

The DVD spec does not support 5.1 PCM audio. This is why distribution codecs, such as Dolby digital, were created. Dolby Digital takes 5.1 PCM audio, and encodes it into a 2-channel, AC-3 stream. This *.ac3 file can then be authored to a DVD title. Once the DVD has been authored, it can be played back in a DVD player that has a Dolby Digital Decoder. 99.9% of DVD players support Dolby Digital - you will see a "Dolby® Digital" badge on the front of the player. The Dolby Digital stream will be decoded by the player, and each of the orginal, discreate channels will play back on the corresponding channel of a home theater or similar playback system.

Once a 5.1 mix has been encoded into the Dolby Digital format, it is no longer audio, per se; rather a means of wrapping 6 discrete channels of audio (5.1 mix) into a 2-channel stream that is supported on 2-channel-only delivery medium (i.e. a DVD). 


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