Can a DVD Recorder Record Dolby or DTS surround sound?

Variety of dvd recording equipment
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Consumer grade DVD recorders all have the ability to play back Dolby Digital 5.1 source material, and most can play back DTS source material when used with an AV receiver. However, DVD recorders only have analog stereo audio inputs for recording audio, which is then encoded into two-channel Dolby Digital. The output of the recorded audio can be accessed either through the analog stereo outputs or the digital audio outputs of the DVD recorder.

Although current DVD recorders cannot record in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital or DTS audio, when used with an AV receiver equipped with Dolby Prologic II and/or DTS neo:6 processors, the two-channel audio recording can be reprocessed into a 5.1 or 6.1 channel sound field, albeit not as accurate as an original 5.1 or 6.1 channel Dolby Digital or DTS soundtrack source.

The reason for this is two-fold: Since you can't record (or shouldn't be able to) or copy DVDs and there is little 5.1 or 6.1 channel audio available from other sources to record, there is not much need for this function (although this is changing as more cable and satellite programming is transmitted in Dolby Digital 5.1).

However, the second factor is probably more political than technical: even if you are successful at making a copy of a DVD video, you are prevented from making a copy of the multi-channel soundtrack, thus preventing you from making an "exact" copy of a DVD on a DVD recorder that could be "passed off" as the original.

Lastly, it must be pointed out that there have been indications by a couple of manufacturers regarding the possible introduction of DVD recorders with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital recording capability, but none have actually hit store shelves.

On a side note, Sony has released some camcorders with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital recording - hopefully, this will filter into DVD recorders.