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dcaenc is an open-source implementation of the DTS Coherent Acoustics codec. Only the core part of the encoder is implemented, because the public specification (ETSI TS 102 114 V1.2.1) is insufficient for implementing anything else.

The DTS technology is heavily patented. Please do not download and do not use this software if you live in a country such as the USA where software patents are legal and you don't have a patent license from DTS, Inc.

The project page is at

The latest code can be obtained from git:

git clone git://

Windows-specific notes

There is a fork of dcaenc specially targetted at Windows users. You can get it from . As compared to this the original version, that fork adds a Visual Studio project file, a progress indicator and support for Unicode file names on Windows. It also breaks Linux support.

ffdcaenc (Free Fast DTS Encoder) is a fork from mulders-dtsenc. It adds support for 24 bit input files, multiple mono input files, flags for options needed for DTS CD and DVD, and changes the core dcaenc library to support strictly-compliant DVD bitrates as expected by AudioMuxer and Muxman.

The command-line application

The ffdcaenc command line utility converts multichannel wav files to DTS (or one or multiple mono files to DTS). The resulting DTS files can be written to an audio CD and played via a digital connection (SPDIF or HDMI) to a receiver, or used as sound tracks for a DVD.


ffdcaenc -i input.wav -o output.dts -b bitrate

For 5.1, the input wav file should have the same channel order as defined by SMPTE and ITU, i.e.: left, right, center, lfe, surround left, surround right.


ffdcaenc -m -0 left.wav -1 right.wav -2 center.wav -3 lfe.wav -4 ls.wav -5 rs.wav -o output.dts -b bitrate

using multiple mono wave files. The following mono input file combinations are supported:

1.0		-2 center.wav
1.1		-2 center.wav -3 lfe-wav
2.0		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav
2.1		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -3 lfe.wav
3.0		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -2 center.wav
3.1		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -2 center.wav -3 lfe.wav
4.0		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -4 ls.wav -5 rs.wav
4.1		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -4 ls.wav -5 rs.wav -3 lfe.wav
5.0		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -2 center.wav -4 ls.wav -5 rs.wav
5.1		-0 left.wav -1 right.wav -2 center.wav -4 ls.wav -5 rs.wav -3 lfe.wav

The files can be in any order on the command line.

Some destinations require a specific bitrate to be specified. To create a CD-compatible DTS file from a multichannel 44.1kHz sampel rate file, run:

ffdcaenc -e -r -i input.wav -o output.dts -b 1411.2

The dts file will need to be converterd to a wav file in order to be burned to a cd. This can be done with spdifer, part of the ac3filter projects,

spdifer output.dts output.wav -wav

To create a DVD-compatible track from a multichannel (or 6 mono) wav file(s) that has a 48 kHz sample rate:

ffdcaenc -i input.wav -o output.dts -b 1509.75

or for a half-rate output:

ffdcaenc -i input.wav -o output.dts -b 754.5

The resulting dts file can be muxed with titles/still images using AudioMuxer,

or with video files using muxman

or other tools that support muxing of dts streams.

Known bug: wav files with floating-point samples are misinterpreted as containing 32-bit integer samples.


The original dcaenc can be compiled for Windows, here is how.

The recommended compiler for dcaenc on Windows is MinGW. Get it from . You may want to use either the mingw-get.exe utility directly (just copy it to c:\mingw\bin, install nothing else), or use a graphical installer. In the latter case, install just the C compiler.

After installation, add c:\mingw\bin and c:\mingw\msys\1.0\bin to the Path environment variable (right-click My Computer -> Properties -> Advanced -> Environment Variables) if it is not already there. Then install the required MinGW components from the command prompt:

mingw-get install mingw32-base mingw32-autotools

For autotools to work, you also have to copy or rename the c:\mingw\msys\1.0\etc\fstab.sample file to c:\mingw\msys\1.0\etc\fstab.


The dcaenc library has no external dependencies. The optional ALSA plugin that comes with it, obviously, depends on the ALSA library compiled with support for external plugins.

See the file INSTALL for the generic installation instructions. Quick summary:

autoreconf -f -i -v # only if building from git ./configure --prefix=/usr # with any other prefix, ALSA won't find the plugin make su -c 'make install' # Or, on Ubuntu: sudo make install

Package contents

The dcaenc package contains the shared library, the corresponding dcaenc.h header, the dcaenc command line tool, and (optionally) the ALSA plugin.

The libdcaenc library

The library may be useful if you want to create DTS streams in your own application.

To do so, you have to call the following functions:

dcaenc_context dcaenc_create( int sample_rate, int channel_config, int approx_bitrate, int flags);

This function creates a library context according to its parameters. The resulting context is an opaque value that should be passed to the other library functions as the first parameter.

The sample rate must be one of the following values: 32000, 44100, 48000 or those divided by 2 or 4. The channel configuration is one of the DCAENC_CHANNELS_* defines listed in the dcaenc.h header. Note that values greater than DCAENC_CHANNELS_3FRONT_2REAR always return an error now because their encoding requires the Xch extension that is undocumented and thus not implemented. Only non-LFE channels have to be specified here. The approximate bitrate is specified in bits per second and may be rounded up by the library.

The flags parameter should be a logical OR of zero or more of the DCAENC_FLAG_* defines. Their meanings:

DCAENC_FLAG_28BIT: use only 28 out of 32 bits in each four bytes of output. This may be useful if the loudness of the hiss resulting from mis-interpretation of the encoded stream as PCM must be reduced. However, this also results in the reduction of the effective bitrate by 12.5%. DTS CDs are usually encoded with this option.

DCAENC_FLAG_BIGENDIAN: produce a big-endian variant of the DTS bitstream. This may be useful for writing the stream as a DVD sound track.

DCAENC_FLAG_LFE: indicates that a separate LFE channel has to be added to the layout indicated by the channel_config parameter.

DCAENC_FLAG_PERFECT_QMF: selects a "perfect-reconstruction" version of the quadrature mirror filter. This reduces distortions inherent in the filterbank design, but makes the filter output more sensitive to quantization errors introduced later in the encoder. libdca version 0.0.5 or earlier will not be able to decode the resulting stream correctly due to a bug (mistyped table) in it. It makes no sense to use this option for streams with bitrate of 0.3 Mbps per channel or less.

DCAENC_FLAG_IEC_WRAP: wraps DTS frames as defined by the IEC 61937-5 standard for transmission over SPDIF. Namely, the library adds a 8-byte header to each frame and pads the frame with zeroes to achieve the same bitrate as a stereo 16-bit PCM stream.

On any error, dcaenc_create() returns NULL. There is no way to find out the reason for the error.

int dcaenc_bitrate(dcaenc_context c);

Returns the actual bitrate that is used by the library.

int dcaenc_input_size(dcaenc_context c);

Returns the size of the input buffer that your application has to submit, in samples. Now this value is always equal to 512.

int dcaenc_output_size(dcaenc_context c);

Returns the size of the output buffer that the application should provide, in bytes.

int dcaenc_convert_s32( dcaenc_context c, const int32_t *input, uint8_t *output);

Performs the conversion of PCM samples stored in the input buffer to the DTS bitstream, stores one frame of the encoded bitstream in the output buffer. The input buffer should contain interleaved signed 32-bit samples. The channel order is as follows:

DCAENC_CHANNELS_MONO: center DCAENC_CHANNELS_STEREO: left, right DCAENC_CHANNELS_3FRONT: center, left, right DCAENC_CHANNELS_2FRONT_1REAR: left, right, surround DCAENC_CHANNELS_3FRONT_1REAR: center, left, right, surround DCAENC_CHANNELS_2FRONT_2REAR: left, right, surround left, surround right DCAENC_CHANNELS_3FRONT_2REAR: center, left, right, surround left, surround right

If the LFE channel is used, it should be added as the last one.

The following layouts are also defined and do not return an error while encoding, but do not result in a high-quality bitstream due to incompatibility with the psychoacoustical model used by the library:


dcaenc_convert_s32() returns the number of bytes written to the output buffer. Right now, it is always the same as returned by dcaenc_output_size(), but this will change if variable bitrate encoding is added to the library.

int dcaenc_destroy(dcaenc_context c, uint8_t *output);

Destroys the library context. If a non-NULL value is provided in the output parameter, the library encodes the final frame and puts it there. This may be useful because there is a 512-sample latency inherent in the DTS filterbank, so the output frame gets the last portion of the PCM input submitted earlier. The returned value indicates the number of bytes written to the output buffer.

ALSA Plugin

The ALSA plugin may be useful for playing multichannel sound from arbitrary ALSA applications through an SPDIF link. This is needed because the SPDIF link cannot carry enough bits per second to transport the raw uncompressed 5.1 audio.

The "alsa-plugins" package contains a similar plugin for on-the-fly AC3 encoding.

The plugin should not be used with HDMI connections, unless the video card imposes the same audio bandwidth limitations as the SPDIF link. The HDMI standard defines enough bandwidth so that the uncompressed 5.1 PCM stream fits even at 192 kHz sample rate.

The ALSA plugin should work in real time on any modern CPU. Here on Intel Core i5 @ 1.20 GHz (i.e. in powersaving mode) it eats ~40% of a single core.

To use the ALSA plugin, add the following line to your $HOME/.asoundrc file or to /etc/asound.conf:


It will create an additional ALSA device for each of your sound cards that have an SPDIF output. The name of the device will be similar to "dca:CARD=Intel,DEV=0", or, for the default card, simply "dca".

If you want to encode DTS and send it to something that is not SPDIF, add a snippet similar to the following:

pcm.dcahdmi { type dca slave.pcm "hdmi:CARD=Intel,DEV=0,AES0=6" }

The card name can be found in the "aplay -L" output, and AES0=6 parameter marks the stream as non-audio (so that it doesn't get played by mistake -- this would result in loud hiss that can damage loudspeakers).

Unlike the AC3 encoder, there are no other configuration parameters. This is because it does not make sense to have them. The hard-coded settings (same bitrate as stereo PCM, all bits used) provide the best possible quality and should work for everyone.

To direct mplayer output to the default card via the encoder:

mplayer -channels 6 -ao alsa:device=dca file.flac

It is not possible to use dmix on top of the encoder. This is a limitation of dmix: it only works on direct hardware devices providing mmap, and the dca plugin is not a hardware device and does not provide mmap. Please use PulseAudio instead.

Known bug: the ALSA plugin doesn't report the supported sample rates correctly. Fixing this requires rewriting the plugin from the extplug infrastructure to ioplug. So you may need to add one of the following flags to mplayer command line:

-af resample=44100 -af resample=48000

Use with PulseAudio

The ALSA plugin can be used with PulseAudio. To do so, add the following lines to the end of the /usr/share/pulseaudio/alsa-mixer/profile-sets/default.conf file:

[Mapping iec958-dts-surround-51] description = DTS device-strings = dca:%f channel-map = front-left,front-right,rear-left,rear-right,front-center,lfe priority = 3 direction = output

Later they may be added to the default profile upstream. After restarting PulseAudio, it will see an additional "DTS" output profile and allow you to select it in the volume control application such as pavucontrol or gnome-volume-control.


The author has no DTS-capable receiver and tests the encoder only by decoding its output with ffmpeg, libdca or ArcSoft DTS decoder (the same engine as used in WinDVD).

The ALSA plugin has been tested and found to work with the following receivers by other people:

Logitech Z5500 JVC TH-A25 Samsung HT-Z310

Some receivers (including JVC TH-A25) mute their outputs when receiving full 32-bit DTS stream (as generated by the ALSA plugin) over SPDIF with AES0=6 (the default for the "dca" family of ALSA devices). To overcome this problem, add the following line to the end of .asoundrc:

defaults.pcm.dca.aes0 0x04

However, it can cause your receiver to unmute its output even if it does not support DTS streams or does not detect them reliably. This will result in very loud hiss that can damage the loudspeakers. So try this setting with the lowest possible volume, and this is why it is not the default.

Similar settings exist for AES1, AES2 and AES3 SPDIF parameters.


There are debates on the Internet about the relative quality of AC3 vs DTS. AC3 uses more advanced compression algorithms, DTS allows for higher bit rates. There were no blind tests comparing the output of the encoder with anything else. However, this encoder uses only the most basic compression techniques defined in the DTS specification, and thus cannot win any comparison with commercial DTS encoders. Still, at 754 kbps, the internal psychoacoustical model considers the distortions to be just below the threshold of detection by human ears.

How to report bugs

Bugs should be reported by email to, preferrably with a short (< 10 seconds) flac sample that demonstrates the problem, and a patch that fixes it.


The following people helped me to test the encoder (including the versions that did not work):

Arun Raghavan

Colin Guthrie

Mikhail Elovskikh

cryptonymous from the forum

rulet from the forum