Overview of the DTS:X Surround Sound Format

Experience immersive surround sound with DTS:X

DTS:X is an immersive surround sound format that competes with Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D Audio. Learn about the role of DTS:X in movie cinemas and home theaters.

DTS:X is a variation of the DTS (Digital Theater Systems) audio format.

What Is DTS:X and MDA?

DTS:X has its roots with SRS Labs (now Xperi), which developed object-based surround sound technology under the umbrella name of MDA (Multi-Dimensional Audio). With MDA, sound objects are not tied to specific channels or speakers. Instead, sound objects are assigned to a position in three-dimensional space.

MDA gives content creators an open-ended tool for mixing audio that can be applied to various end-user formats. Using DTS:X as the output format, sound mixers and engineers can place sounds individually regardless of channel assignment or speaker layout.

More channels and speakers improve the accuracy of sound object placement, but some immersive benefits of DTS:X encoding can be enjoyed with a modest 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup.

MDA Tool Interface with DTS:X Logo

DTS:X in Movie Theaters

DTS:X is adaptable to several movie theater speaker setups, including those already set up for Dolby Atmos (also object-based) or Barco Auro 11.1 (not object-based). DTS:X can remap sound object distribution according to the speaker layout that is available. Therefore, the overall cost of adding DTS:X to commercial cinemas is not a significant financial burden.

DTS:X is implemented by several movie theater chains in the U.S., Europe, and China, including Carmike Cinemas, Regal Entertainment Group, Epic Theaters, Classic Cinemas, Muvico Theaters, iPic Theaters, and UEC Theaters.

DTS:X in Home Theaters

If you want to enjoy fully immersive DTS:X encoded sound on your home theater, you must have a DTS:X compatible home theater receiver. DTS:X capable home theater receivers are available from brands like Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha.

Most high-end home theater receivers have DTS:X capability built-in, but a free firmware update may be required to activate it.

DTS:X Encoding and Backward Compatibility

DTS:X is backward compatible with any home theater receiver that incorporates DTS Digital Surround or DTS-HD Master Audio decoders. If your receiver doesn't have a built-in DTS:X decoder, you can still watch movies that are DTS:X encoded, but you won't get the more immersive effect that DTS:X provides.

DTS Neural:X

Home theater receivers that incorporate DTS:X also include a companion format called DTS Neural:X. This feature provides an option for users to listen to any non-DTS:X encoded Blu-ray and DVD content in an immersive manner. It approximates the height and wide sound field information of DTS:X, just not as precise. DTS Neural:X can up-mix 2, 5.1, and 7.1 channel sources.

Channel and Speaker Placement

Even though DTS:X is designed for optimal use with an 11.1 (or 7.1.4 in Dolby Atmos terms) layout, DTS:X remaps sound object distribution according to the channel and speaker system it has to work with. In other words, if a helicopter is supposed to originate in the upper-right front of the sound field, DTS:X places the helicopter in that space as close as possible within a given speaker layout, even if no height speakers are present.

Precise Dialogue Control

DTS:X provides the ability to control the volume levels of each sound object. With up to hundreds of sound objects in any given movie soundtrack, this is mostly reserved for the original sound production and mixing process. However, some of this capability can be provided to the consumer in the form of dialogue control.

With DTS:X, the sound mixer isolates the dialogue as a separate object. If the sound mixer decides to keep that object unlocked within a specific piece of content, and the home theater receiver includes a dialogue-only level function, you can adjust the dialogue volume independently from the other channel levels.

Other DTS:X Applications

A variation of DTS:X is DTS Headphone:X, which enables surround sound for headphones. Headphone:X technology is included in many PCs, mobile devices, and home theater receivers. DTS:X is also available on select soundbars from Integra, LG, Nakamichi, Samsung, Sennheiser, and Yamaha.

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