Does the Live actually play HD sound?

I had a question earlier this week about playing surround sound (which PixelPower – thanks again! – helped me with) and now it’s raised another doubt in my mind.

There’s no question now that I’m playing surround sound with my ts container files.  I’ve muxed them with both H.264 video and the HD tracks (either True-HD or DTS-HD) from ripped blu-ray discs.  The question I know have is whether Live is actually playing the HD sound or the embedded cores in the HD tracks.

(Every HD track has an embedded compressed core – either an AC3 core or a “regular” DTS compressed core).

I can’t find any documentation to tell me if the Live supports HD at all, but even if it “supports” it, the support might be limited to simply playing that compressed track.  And I can’t think of a way to tell one way or the other (I know – if I can’t tell WHY am I worrying about it?  But if it’s only playing the compressed track I might as well not waste the space for  the HD and go ahead and extract the compressed track.  And yes, it further begs the question if I can’t tell the difference between compressed and HD why do I bother, but it’s not *quite* that simple.  I have no way of really running A/B tests to conclusively determine if I could tell the difference, and I also play these files for many others who *might* be able to hear where I can’t).

Does anyone have the definitive word on this?  Or any ideas what to try?  I guess I *might* be able to construct some sort of A/B test (maybe make a TS container with a compressed and an HD track and switch between them, assuming I can do this with Live) but if someone has the answer it would save me a whole lot of heartache.

There’s a thread regarding HD audio support in the Ideas Exchange forum:

To save you a click: no DTS-HD support due to licensing issues (5.1 core is extracted and either bitstreamed or downmixed to stereo depending on settings).

The situation with TrueHD support is not so clear.  Apparently WD are “looking into” adding TrueHD bitstream support to MKV files.

However, reading the comments, some users report that TrueHD is already bitstreaming when using M2TS containers.

Unfortunately, recent firmwares have made it buggy on some files (misidentifies audio as AC3 and stutters).

So for DTS-HD films, just rip the 5.1 core and save some space (or keep the DTS-HD, plan ahead for future media players?).

For TrueHD… if they iron out the bugs, it seems the support is there.  :)

Thanks once again, PP (um, that sounds odd).  You’re a wealth of info (and presented in a nice concise format because at my age time is my most precious quantity).

I think I’ll just skip the HD then – truth be told, the surround sound that plays sounds great to me, and I suspect it’s about analogus to MP3s versus WAV (namely, my old ears just have lost so many frequencies due to rock concerts that I can’t discriminate much anymore).  I guess any of my grandkids that listen to movies may not hear the best quality, but they aren’t over often .

And I really can save the space (not to mention standardizing on the mkv container – my workflow was a little complicated when changing containers for those movies that didn’t have HD).

I my case, the “Live” passes through DTS-HD just fine over HDMI.

I have several 1:1 BluRay movie.m2ts files with raw DTS-HD audio tracks on my media server. When playing the “DTS-HD” indicator lights up on my receiver every time…

My 2c…


But it’s not surround sound, right? Because the Live only passes surround sound through the digital output (as verified by my receiver). I can get stereo sound from my DTS-HD tracks over HDMI as well, but to get the 5.1 lights to come on I must use optical, and I don’t think it’s DTS-HD.

Nope full HD surround sound is passed through via HDMI!

The TosLink / Optical / digital outputs cannot support HD audio, -they don’t have the bandwidth.

ONLY HDMI can support / passthough HD audio…

I’ll check again tonight to be extra sure (that I’m not just getting the DTS core).But I’m sure that both my Star Trek and Hurt Locker 1:1 copies are truly passing DTS-HD to my receiver, not just DTS…

Stay tuned…


I just checked some of my m2ts files. According to MediaInfo, only one actually had a HD audio track the rest had DTS…

My Star Trek copy has a Dolby True-HD track -it passed through the WDTV Live to my receiver without issues…

Here is the MediaInfo report:

Audio #1
ID                               : 4352 (0x1100)
Menu ID                          : 1 (0x1)
Format                           : AC-3
Format/Info                      : Audio Coding 3
Format profile                   : TrueHD / Core
Muxing mode                      : Stream extension
Duration                         : 2h 6mn
Bit rate mode                    : Variable / Constant
Bit rate                         : Variable / 640 Kbps
Maximum bit rate                 : 5 376 Kbps / 640 Kbps
Channel(s)                       : 6 channels
Channel positions                : Front: L C R, Surround: L R, LFE
Sampling rate                    : 48.0 KHz
Language                         : English

I will try to find some other DTS-HD files to test as well…


When I play a m2ts file it comes through as DTS not TrueHD. I’m using a HDMI and its going into a new Integra Surround processor that supports every format known to man. Every disc I play through my Pioneer Elite comes through perfectly.

I wish they would just have an audio pass through mode where it leaves the audio alone!


Well the truth is DTS-HD / DTS MA is not passed through…

Cliffee was right, the WTDV strips the Master Audio overlay stream, and only passes through the DTS core.

Now DTS is not bad!, but I don’t see why WD could not leave the full audio stream untouched. I hope this is a bug to be resolved in future FW.

SO Dolby True HD is ok but, DTS HD is out -for now…

So sad, the PCH and many other streamers can handle (or leave alone) the HD audio, I wonder why WD screws it up?


Bertrandr wrote:



Well the truth is DTS-HD / DTS MA is not passed through…

Cliffee was right, the WTDV strips the Master Audio overlay stream, and only passes through the DTS core.

Now DTS is not bad!, but I don’t see why WD could not leave the full audio stream untouched. I hope this is a bug to be resolved in future FW.

SO Dolby True HD is ok but, DTS HD is out -for now…


So sad, the PCH and many other streamers can handle (or leave alone) the HD audio, I wonder why WD screws it up?



You must read all the messages on the thread. This is not a ‘bug’ or ‘screw up’, its a licensing issue and WD have responded on the ideas board.

“DTS-HD bitstreaming is not possible due to licensing restrictions. Instead, the WD TV Live extracts the DTS 5.1 core stream and either bitstreams it or downmixes it to stereo. We’ll check to see if TrueHD bitstreaming from MKVs is possible.”


Respectfully, I don’t “accept” WD’s response to this issue.

The licensing costs associated with ANY codec (video or audio) are triggered or incurred when the codec is decoded. The WD Live should not be decoding any audio, but as you say “bitstreaming” it via HDMI to the actual decoder (TV or Receiver).

The definition of  Bitstreaming: “The process of taking the entire encoded audio stream and passing it bit for bit to another device for decoding (usually an A/V Receiver).” Unfortunately what WD is doing is a form of transcoding where the audio stream is analyzed, and “stripped” of the HD extensions that make up the total DTS-HD package.

There are no speaker terminals nor should there be any decoding taking place on the WD live. Yamaha, Onkyo, Samsung, Sony etc are the corporations that need to pay the DTS-HD licensee fees, enabling them to put a little DTS-HD logo on their products.I already paid a portion of the licensee fee when I bought my DTS-HD capable Yamaha receiver that IS licensed to decode HD audio…

If the WD Live did actually bitstream the audio through to our receivers or televisions, then no DTS licensing would be required. Unfortunately the current live FW does seem to interact with the audio stream to some degree. As proven by the striping of the “HD” differential stream form the core DTS stream. All WD needs to do is add some sort of audio “passthrough” option so we can all enjoy unaltered audio as it was intended. So in my opinion WD did “screw this up”. The device seems to have no problem passing through (bitstreaming) the Dolby TrueHD equivalent to DTS-HD. Since there is no Dolby TrueHD logo on the box, we can be sure that no licensee fee was paid to Mr… Dolby -yet it works… Dolby TruHD is a single cohesive audio stream, while DTS-HD is actually a combination of two streams, the core plus HD extensions. This is probably  where the WD Live has messed up. For some reason the HD extensions are being dropped rather than passed through…

So respectfully, I HAVE READ all the messages on this forum and many others. I post here and on other forums to help educate and learn myself about the products and technology I am interested in.



hi men,look can you please tell me more about what you say please? i mean i have some blu rays 1:1 copy m2ts files,dont in my onkyo receiver dont show DTS-MASTER AUDIO,i try with DOLBY TRUE HD,and work perfect, i have a lot of interest in figure out if wd live can really decode DTS MASTER AUDIO,really thanks for your answer!!

No, the WD TV Live can’t decode or bitstream DTS-HD Master Audio.  

You can get the DTS 5.1 core bitstreamed or downmixed to stereo but they don’t have the license to output DTS-HD.

It should still sound pretty good (DTS is better than DD5.1 at least).

Dolby TrueHD is supported.  Why they have TrueHD and not DTS-HD I don’t know.  Dolby might have more relaxed (cheaper?) technology licensing agreements than DTS.

It doesn’t.

If you want and need DTS-HD passthorugh I suggest you get the Popcorn Hour A-200. I have it and DTS-HD plays fine. It passes it right though!

The A-200 is awesome. Playes everything.