Hello, I'm trying to convert mkvs ripped from my blu rays and convert them to mpeg2 so that I can burn them to dvds for my kids. The issue I'm having is that with each program I've tried, the 5.1 surround gets turned into stereo. I've watched plenty of dvds throughout the years with 5.1 surround, so I should be able to convert and keep the 5.1 audio before burning the mpeg2s to a dvd, right? All help is greatly appreciated, thanks.
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It may be more helpful if you mention the programs you used, and maybe an example of what you did in such programs.
The multichannel formats that both dvd and bluray have in common are dts & ac3. Lpcm can easily be multichannel (mc) in bluray, but runs into compatibility and bitrate issues in dvd. Lossless bd formats are not part of the dvd spec. Mp2 is not part of the bd spec.
With those 2 formats you can do a simple & straightforward demux & remux (and author). Any other option will entail a decode & re-encode, which will have accompanying loss of quality, if not necessarily loss of channels.
If you have lossless files with backward compatibility, you could take the lossy core and reuse that. It won't have an additional generation of loss, but you would be using the inferior lossy version instead of the full lossless version.
Btw, ac3 is preferrable, as the spec would require a different format as primary stream with dts occupying 2nd stream if you went the dts route.