The DTS Neo:6 Surround Sound Processing Format

DTS Neo:6 provides surround sound listening flexibility

DTS Neo:6 is a surround sound processing format that is designed to enhance the listening experience in a home theater environment for two-channel stereo source material.

How DTS Neo:6 Works

DTS Neo:6 Logo

Unlike DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital, which need to be encoded and present in the source material, DTS Neo:6 is what is referred to as a post-processing format. What this means is that it does not need to be encoded in a specific manner so it can be fed to a special decoder in order to extract the correct channel assignments for the sound mix.

Instead, DTS Neo:6, using a special chip normally built into many 5.1 or 7. 1 channel home theater receivers can analyze all of the sonic cues of a non-encoded two-channel soundtrack mix (usually from an analog source), and, as accurately as possible, distribute the sound elements into a 6-channel home theater speaker setup.

What this means is that when playing a CD, vinyl record, or a DVD with a soundtrack that only provides 2-channels of information (left front and right front), DTS Neo:6 can expand that sound field to 6.1 channels.

  • Normally, a DTS Neo:6 speaker setup includes left front, center, right front, left surround, center back, right surround, and a subwoofer.
  • If you have a 5.1 channel speaker setup, instead of a 6.1 channel setup, the processor will automatically fold the sixth channel (center back) into the left and right surround speakers so you that you are not missing any information.
  • If you have 7.1 channel speaker setup, DTS Neo:6 will treat the left and right back surround speakers as a single channel – the same sound information will come from both the left and right back surround speakers.
  • In both a 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup, a "phantom" center back channel is created when using DTS Neo:6.

In addition to its channel distribution capabilities, DTS Neo:6 provides two sound listening modes: Music and Cinema. The Music mode provides a subdued surround effect, more suitable for music, while the Cinema mode facilitates a more pronounced surround effect that is more suitable for movies.

DTS Neo:6 on DVD and Blu-ray Disc Players

DTS Neo:6 surround sound processing is also available on some DVD and Blu-ray Disc players. What this means, if this option is selected, is that a compatible DVD/Blu-ray player can post-process an audio signal from a DVD/CD internally into the DTS Neo:6 format and then send that signal to a home theater receiver without the receiver having to do any additional processing.

In order to provide this option, the Blu-ray Disc player must have a set of multichannel analog audio outputs. This also means that the home theater receiver must have the corresponding set of multichannel analog inputs, which is rare.

For more details on how the DTS Neo:6 option may be applied in a specific DVD, Blu-ray, or Ultra HD disc player, consult that player's user manual.

DTS Neo:6 vs Dolby Prologic II and IIx

DTS Neo:6 isn't the only audio processing format that can be used to extract a surround sound field from a two-channel source, two other audio processing format that will find available on many home theater receivers that have this capability are Dolby Dolby Prologic II and Dolby Pro-Logic IIx,

Dolby Prologic II can expand a two-channel source into a 5.1 channel sound-field, and Dolby Prologic IIx, which can expand a two or 5.1 channel source to 7.1 channels.

The Bottom Line

Although DTS Neo:6 and Dolby Prologic II/IIx can create an effective surround sound experience, it is not as accurate in terms of precise sound placement as a 5.1/7.1 channel Dolby Digital/DTS Digital Surround encoded source that is designed to be decoded. However, listening to those old vinyl records or CDs in an expanded surround sound field can certainly bring new life to those sources. However, many audio purists dismiss such manipulation of the original two-channel material and prefer listening to music in its native two-channel form.

On the other hand, there aren't the same concerns regarding two-channel VHS, TV, or some DVD sound material, as surround sound for movies is more appropriate. In those cases, DTS Neo:6 can definitely provide a benefit.

  • To activate DTS Neo:6, look for that option in your home theater receiver, Blu-ray, or DVD player, and select either the Movie or Music mode.
  • If your home theater receiver or Blu-ray Disc player includes a DTS Neo:6 and/or Dolby Prologic II/IIx sound processing options - check all of them out and see what you think.