The DTS Neo:6 Surround Sound Processing Format

DTS Neo:6 provides surround sound listening flexibility

DTS Neo:6
DTS Neo:6. DTS Logo - DTS - Neo:6 Graphic - Robert Silva

There seems to a continually increasing number of surround sound listening options for home theater, and, for many users, deciding on what surround sound listening format to select can be intimidating. One surround sound listening choice that may be available that you can benefit from is DTS Neo:6.

What DTS Neo:6 Is

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.

Unlike DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital, which needs 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 feed to a special decoder in order to extract the correct channel assignments for the sound mix.

Instead, DTS Neo:6 is an audio processing format in which a special chip that is (normally built-into a 5.1 or 7. 1 channel home theater receiver) 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 for users is that if you are 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 so that spreads out to a 6.1 channel speaker setup.

Normally, a DTS Neo:6 speaker setup includes left front, center, right front, left surround, center back, right surround, and a subwoofer.

However, 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.

By the same token, if you have 7.1 channel speaker setup, DTS Neo:6 will treat the left and right back surround speakers as a single channel - in other words, the same sound information will come from both the left and right back surround speakers, creating a "phantom" center back channel.

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

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, is that the compatible DVD/Blu-ray player is able to independently post-process audio signals from DVDs/CDs into the DTS Neo:6 format and send that processed 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 is applied in a specific DVD or Blu-ray 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 - Your Choice

Although DTS Neo:6, DTS Prologic II/IIx can create an effect surround sound experience, it is not as accurate in terms of precise sound placement as 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. It is important to note that many audio purists dismiss such manipulation of the original two-channel material a 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, just 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 them out and see what you think.