What Is DTS Play-Fi?

DTS Play-Fi offers up wireless multi-room audio and more

DTS Play-Fi is a wireless multi-room sound system platform. It operates with the installation of a free downloadable app to compatible iOS and Android smartphones and sends audio signals to compatible hardware. Play-Fi works through your existing home or on-the-go accessible Wi-Fi.

The Play-Fi app provides access to select internet music and radio streaming services, as well as audio content that may be stored on compatible local network devices, such as PCs and media servers.

DTS Play-Fi Logo and Lifestyle

DTS/Xperi

Get Started With Play-Fi

Initial Play-Fi setup is straightforward.

  1. The first time you turn on your Play-Fi device, the Wi-Fi indicator lights up.

  2. Turn on your smartphone. Then, search for the Play-Fi app, either by going to the official DTS Play-Fi website, Google Play Store, Amazon App Marketplace, or iTunes. You can also download a version of the app on your PC, if on the same Wi-Fi network as your speakers.

  3. Download and install the app.

  4. After download and installation, the DTS Play-Fi app searches for, and allows linking with, compatible playback devices, such as Play-Fi enabled wireless powered speakers, home theater receivers, and soundbars.

    DTS Play-Fi App - Screen Examples

    DTS

  5. The DTS Play-Fi app may also install additional updates as needed.

  6. Name your speakers and start playing music.

Stream Music With Play-Fi

You can use the Play-Fi app on your smartphone to stream music to linked wireless powered speakers no matter where the speakers are located throughout your house. In the case of compatible home theater receivers or soundbars, the Play-Fi app can stream music content to the receiver so that you hear music through your home theater system.

DTS Play-Fi Music Services

DTS

DTS Play-Fi can stream music from the following services:

  • Amazon Music
  • Deezer
  • iHeart Radio
  • Internet Radio
  • Juke!
  • KKBox
  • Napster
  • NPR
  • Pandora
  • Qobuz
  • QQMusic
  • Sirius/XM
  • Spotify
  • TIDAL

Some services, such as iHeart Radio and Internet Radio, are free. Others may require an additional paid subscription for total access.

Play-Fi can also stream uncompressed music files, which is generally better quality music streamed using Bluetooth.

Digital music file formats that are compatible with Play-Fi include:

  • MP3
  • AAC
  • Apple Lossless
  • Flac
  • Wav

Also, CD-quality files can be streamed without any compression or transcoding.

In addition, higher than CD-quality hi-res audio files are also compatible when streamed through a local network. This is referred to as the Critical Listening Mode, which provides the best listening quality by eliminating compression, down-sampling, and unwanted distortion.

Play-Fi Stereo

Although Play-Fi can stream music to any single or assigned group of wireless speakers, you can also set it up to use any two compatible speakers as a stereo pair. One speaker can serve as the left channel and another the right channel. Ideally, both speakers should be the same brand and model so that the sound quality is the same for the left and right channels.

Play-Fi and Surround Sound

Another Play-Fi feature that is available on select soundbar products (but not available on any home theater receivers) is the ability to send surround sound audio to select Play-Fi enabled wireless speakers. If you have a compatible soundbar, you can add any two Play-Fi-enabled wireless speakers to your setup and then send DTS and Dolby digital surround sound signals to those speakers.

In this type of setup, the soundbar serves as the primary speaker, with two compatible Play-Fi wireless speakers that serve the role of surround left and right, respectively.

The surround primary needs to have the following capabilities:

  • Be able to decode a 5.1 surround stream (such as Dolby Digital or DTS).
  • The correct software and firmware support has been installed.
  • Support Play-Fi functionality for accessing audio through analog or digital optical/coaxial inputs and be able to distribute that audio to the appropriate speakers.

Check the product information for the soundbar or home theater receiver to determine whether it incorporates the DTS Play-Fi surround feature or if it can be added with a firmware update.

Play-Fi Headphones App

In addition to using Play-Fi with select wireless speakers and home theater receivers, you can use Play-Fi to stream any audio source connected to a Play-Fi wireless speaker, home theater receiver, or soundbar using the line-in option (HDMI, digital optical/coaxial, or analog) via Wi-Fi to any compatible smartphone and listen on headphones. This feature requires the installation of the Play-Fi Headphones App (iOS, Android).

For best audio synchronization (especially from audio for video sources), use plug-in headphones (if that option is available on your phone) rather than Bluetooth headphones.

DTS Play-Fi and Alexa

Select DTS Play-Fi wireless speakers can be controlled by the Amazon Alexa voice assistant using the Alexa App.

A limited number of DTS Play-Fi products are smart speakers that incorporate the same type of built-in microphone hardware and voice recognition capabilities that allow these products to perform all the functions of an Amazon Echo device, in addition to DTS Play-Fi features.

Music services that can be accessed and controlled by Alexa voice commands include Amazon Music, Audible, iHeart Radio, Pandora, and TuneIn radio.

DTS Play-Fi is also available in the Alexa Skills library. This allows voice control of DTS Play-Fi functions on Alexa-compatible DTS Play-Fi enabled speakers using an Amazon Echo device.

DTS Play-Fi also supports Alexa Cast. This enables you to play and control music directly from the Amazon Music app installed on an iOS or Android smartphone on select Alexa-enabled DTS Play-Fi speakers.

Product Brands That Support Play-Fi

Product Brands that support DTS Play-Fi compatibility on selected devices, which include wireless powered and smart speakers, receivers/amps, soundbars, and preamps that can add Play-Fi functionality to older stereo or home theater receivers include:

  • Acer
  • Aerix
  • Anthem
  • Arcam
  • Definitive Technology
  • Dish
  • Pioneer Elite
  • Fusion Research
  • HP
  • Integra
  • Klipsch
  • MartinLogan
  • McIntosh
  • Onkyo
  • Paradigm
  • Phorus
  • Pioneer
  • Polk Audio
  • Rotel
  • Sonus Faber
  • Thiel
  • Wren

DTS Play-Fi's Flexibility Shines

Wireless multi-room audio is exploding, and, although there are several platforms (such as Denon/Sound United HEOS, Sonos, and Yamaha MusicCast), DTS Play-Fi provides more flexibility than most as you aren't limited to one or a limited number of branded playback devices or speakers.

Since DTS has provisions for any product maker to license its technology for use, you can mix and match compatible devices from a continually growing number of brands that can suit your needs and your budget.

DTS originally stood for Digital Theater Systems, reflecting its development and licensing administration of DTS surround sound formats. However, as a result of branching out into wireless multi-room audio and other endeavors, it changed its registered name to DTS (no additional meaning) as its sole brand identifier. In December 2016, DTS became a subsidiary of Xperi Corporation.

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