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DTS:X Promises Features Not Offered By Dolby Atmos

by April 10, 2015
DTS:X Logo

DTS:X Logo

Thanks to DTS, this preliminary report is coming to you from Marshall Guthrie at seat 6F on a Boeing 737.  24 hours ago, Marshall was on an outbound flight from Portland to Los Angeles at the invitation of DTS to witness, firsthand, their new object-based audio system, DTS:X. 

DTS:X offers unprecedented control over the specific placement, movement, and volume of sound objects.

Marshall’s initial impressions: there is real game-changing potential in DTS:X that includes the ability to put your speakers where you want them and still get good sound, open format tools for movie mixing professionals, and really amazing sound for headphone users too.  Unlike Dolby Atmos home cinema, DTS:X is not tied to a prescribed speaker configuration or a specified number of channels. 

This opens a lot of flexibility and acceptance for our proposed Universal Speaker Layout for 3D Immersive Surround Formats.

DTS:X Immersive Surround Format Sneak Peak

Per DTS:

DTS:X is built on the foundation of providing an open, adaptable solution for content creators, cinemas and homes to fulfill our goal of bringing immersive audio to as many people around the world as possible," said Jon Kirchner, chairman and CEO of DTS, Inc. "Until recently, sound in movie theatres and in our homes has been dictated by a standardized speaker layout. Through the use of object-based audio, DTS:X is able to scale immersive soundtrack presentations across a wide range of playback systems, from efficient to extravagant, while staying true to the content creator's vision. This approach delivers the most authentic three-dimensional audio experience ever, making the audience feel as if they are in the centre of the action.

The foundation of DTS:X is MDA, described as a license fee-free, open platform said to give movie studios “unprecedented control over the specific placement, movement, and volume of sound objects.” DTS said the platform enables sound engineers to “mix once” for both immersive and conventional cinemas in a combined object- and channel-based audio format, allowing content to be easily distributed beyond the theater for streaming, broadcast, optical media, and more. 

DTS:X Speaker Layout

DTS:X Speaker Layout Diagram

According to DTS, they already have 90 percent of the consumer AV marketplace signed on to create DTS:X AV receivers and surround processors.  Here are some examples forthcoming:

  • Denon – AVR-X7200W firmware upgradeable to DTS:X later this year
  • Emotiva – XMR processor with DTS:X support coming in early 2016
  • Integra and Onkyo – releasing several DTS:X receivers by fall 2015
  • Marantz – AV8802 firmware upgradeable to DTS:X later this year
  • Outlaw Audio - T.B.D.
  • Pioneer - T.B.D.
  • Steinway Lyngdorf – P200 Surround Sound Processor launching this summer with DTS:X upgrade slated for fall 2015.
  • Theta Digital – Casablanca IVa launching this summer with DTS:X upgrade slated for fall 2015.
  • Trinnov Audio – Altitude32 upgradeable to DTS:X firmware upgrade this summer.
  • Yamaha – launching DTS:X AV receivers later this fall.

DTS:X Features you can expect on first generation products:

Backward Compatibility: DTS:X builds upon existing DTS-HD Master Audio to provide backward compatibility with existing DTS bitstreams and speaker layouts. In short, all features of DTS-HD Master Audio are supported and enable an immersive audio experience for older content.

  • The DTS:X content is backward compatible with the DTS-HD decoder
  • The DTS:X decoder supports DVD, Blu-ray Disc (BD) and streaming media file formats
  • DTS:X can spatially reformat stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 content to take full advantage of all speakers in a surround system
  • Objects are never lost; if the object is embedded, it can be extracted and used in the rendered experience

Dialog Control: AVR owners will be able to control the volume of specific audio elements at home, such as increasing dialog volume to match their listening preferences.

  • Dialog, as an object, can be lifted out from the background sounds when clarity and intelligibility are desired
  • Content creators have the choice to implement this feature in their content mix

Flexible Speaker Layout:  With flexible speaker layouts and remapping technology, DTS:X allows the placement of home theater speakers virtually anywhere. The freedom of object-based audio enables optimized playback on a multitude of speaker layouts, with any number of speakers. The DTS speaker remapping engine supports any speaker configuration within a hemispherical layout based around the listening position in the room.

  • 2015 DTS:X AVRs can support up to 11.2 speaker output channels
  • Content created for a specific speaker layout can be remapped for playback through a different layout
  • Enables remapping of outputs to custom or OEM-defined speaker layouts, and remapping legacy content to new output configurations
  • Support for 32 speaker locations (subject to each manufacturer’s product capabilities)
  • Metadata-based spatial mapping renders the ideal 3D sound image to actual speaker layouts

Lossless:  DTS is known for lossless, master audio quality with no compromise, delivering dynamic bit allocation. DTS:X supports lossless encoding for the highest audio quality possible. In situations where bitrate is of high concern, DTS:X can also operate in a high-quality lossy mode.

  • Supports up to 96k for object mixes
  • Still supports up to 192k for stereo and multi-channel mixes
  • DTS:X is true to the audio master, delivers in the highest quality and preserves its fidelity

DTS Headphone:X

For those not able to run a DTS:X based home theater, fear not as DTS has you covered for headphones too.

As part of DTS’ strategy to support the entire ecosystem of sound, from cinema to home to mobile, consumers can also access an engaging audio experience over their mobile devices with DTS Headphone:X, which enhances any ordinary pair of headphones with fully immersive surround sound.

DTS:X Immersive Surround Format Announced!

Is DTS:X The Future of Immersive Surround Sound?

This is a good question.  It remains to be seen if film mixers flock to an open format, licensing fee free architecture that DTS is offering with DTS:X over a more rigid and fee driven architecture like Dolby Atmos. Also, how soon will it be until we start seeing DTS:X Blu-ray discs?  DTS claims as soon as the end of 2015 we will start seeing DTS:X Blu-ray releases.  A news scoop we have is the new Avengers Movie: Age of Ultron is coming in DTS:X to a cinema near you. 

Stay tuned for Marshall’s full report including listening impressions and more YouTube video coverage.


About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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