Every few years, home video takes a dramatic leap forward that changes the way we think about our favorite films and television shows. The difference from VHS to DVD was startling to say the least, as was the difference between DVD and the latest "greatest" format, Blu-ray. However, one of the most important things you can understand about Blu-ray is that you're not just talking about superior video quality. If you're paying for Blu-ray but not for a home theater system that includes the best subwoofer in the country, you're missing out on a big part of the experience you've already paid so much for.
It's All About That Sound
The major thing that separates DVD from Blu-ray is the amount of storage space available on each disc. Whereas a single layer DVD could hold about 4.7 gigabytes of information, a Blu-ray can hold roughly 50 - and that's before you take things like additional content layers into consideration. A lot of this additional space is devoted to things like uncompressed video - that's why a Blu-ray has such a massive resolution shift above what DVD was capable of. If you take the best-looking DVD ever produced and put it side-by-side along even a middle quality Blu-ray, the Blu-ray will always blow that DVD out of the water.
However, sound is also a very important part of the equation that many people overlook. In the DVD days, a disc usually had one (or possibly two) high quality 5.1 tracks - typically Dolby Digital and DTS. Now, many discs are shipping with even 7.1 audio tracks as a standard feature - allowing your JENSEN in wall speakers or in-ceiling speakers to truly shine. Audio engineers no longer have to completely redesign the way a movie sounds from the ground up to take into account the limitations of the home theater experience, as those limitations don't really exist anymore.
Get The Full Experience
Also, it's important to consider the fact that Blu-rays also often include additional audio tracks as bonus features that allow you to experience older movies in particular in the exact way they were first viewed in a theater. A movie from the 1960s or the 1970s usually had a 1.0 or 2.0 mono track, for example. With the additional space afforded by Blu-ray, the studios can now include both a modern day 7.1 option and these uncompressed original tracks on the same disc - indeed, you're seeing this happen more and more with catalog releases.
So if you have your heart set on a modern day, cutting edge experience, you can have it. However, if you want to hear a movie exactly how someone heard it all the way back when it was originally released, you have that option, too. This is just another one of the many reasons why if you're only paying for an HDTV and not a home theater system when upgrading to Blu-ray, you're actually limiting yourself to only one part of a tremendously powerful experience.