Exclusive (Updated): Universal Talks Blu-ray Audio Plans

Update: We’ve received some questions asking for clarification on Universal’s resoundingly well-received decision to adopt DTS-HD on Blu-ray. Is it really Master Audio? Or compressed 1.5 core DTS? To answer this, we’ll let Universal tell you in their own words.

“Universal (editor’s note: Blu-ray) titles contain DTS-HD Master Audio (Lossless) on all English tracks.”

Now you know, and knowing… well, you know the rest!

In the waning months of Universal Studios Home Entertainment’s HD DVD era, the studio had standardized the use of Dolby TrueHD audio on almost all newly announced titles. This was in stark contrast to the early Universal HD DVD days when the appearance of Dolby TrueHD was overshadowed by the heavy use of Dolby Digital Plus lossy audio.

Times has certainly changed, and now Universal is gearing up to enter the Blu-ray Disc arena for the first time on July 22. With this move from HD DVD to Blu-ray support comes many questions, including how Universal will approach audio with the expanded room a BD-50 disc offers over a 30GB dual-layered HD DVD disc.

Although Universal is remaining tight-lipped on a lot of details surrounding their Blu-ray presence that wasn’t included in the press release, they were kind enough to entertain our questions about their audio approach on Blu-ray. The simple answer may surprise you. At the least, it should delight you.

The first wave of Universal Blu-ray Disc titles on July 22 are all from the Mummy franchise and were all previously released on HD DVD: The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King. All of these titles were published with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio tracks, but not Dolby TrueHD tracks.

Per Universal, all three Mummy films will include DTS-HD Master Lossless Audio. That’s right, folks. Instead of lazily porting over what was already completed for HD DVD, Universal has heard your cries for lossless audio and is taking action.

Universal went on to tell us that the game plan moving forward is for DTS-HD Master Lossless to become the Blu-ray standard at the studio. Obviously there will be exceptions, but it looks like the majority of titles, and probably all new theatrical titles, will include DTS-HD.

We’ll have more from Universal, including their position on U-Control appearing on Blu-ray, in the near future. Stay tuned!

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