DTS-ES - Definition and Explanation

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Official DTS-ES Logo. Image provided by DTS

Dolby and DTS are two main providers of surround sound formats for home theater use, and, their most basic surround sound formats are Dollby Digital and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround - which, in terms of speakers, require a left front, center front, right front, left surround, right surround speakers (5 total), plus, a subwoofer (that is where you get the .1 designation from).

The Definition of DTS-ES

However, in addition to their core 5.1 channel formats, both Dolby and DTS offer up variations.

DTS offers a variation referred to as DTS-ES, or DTS Extended Surround).

Instead of 5.1 channels, DTS-ES adds a sixth channel, which requires a sixth speaker that is positioned directly behind the listener's head. In other words, with DTS-ES, the speaker arrangement is front left, front center, front right, surround left, back center, right surround (6 channels), and, of course the subwoofer (.1 channel).

The Two Flavors of DTS-ES

However, although DTS-ES builds on the foundation of DTS 5.1 Digital Surround, in turns out that DTS-ES actually comes in two flavors: DTS ES-Matrix, and DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete.

Here is the difference between the two flavors of DTS-ES. If your home theater receiver provides DTS-ES decoding/processing, DTS-ES Matrix extracts the sixth channel from cues that have been embedded within some DTS 5.1 Digital Surround soundtracks. On the other hand, DTS 6.1 Discrete decodes a DTS soundtrack that has the additional 6th channel information present as a separately mixed channel.

Also, to accommodate backwards compatibility with home theater receivers that may not have DTS-ES Discrete decoding or processing, a receiver equipped with DTS 5.1 Digital Surround will automatically fold the matrix or discrete 6th channel of information into the left and right surround channels of a 5.1 channel speaker setup.

More Info

DTS-ES has been used on some DVD soundtracks, but since the advent of Blu-ray Disc and 7.1 channel home theater receivers, newer DTS surround sound formats, such as DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS:X have found their way into the mix, leaving DTS-ES behind.

However, many home theater receivers still provide DTS-ES Matrix and DTS-ES Discrete processing and decoding capability (check out your receiver's user manual for details), and for those that have a home theater receiver with DTS-ES decoding/processing capability and also still have 6.1 channel setup, check out a listing of DVD Soundtracks that contain DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete soundtracks (along with DTS-ES Matrix and Dolby Digital EX 6.1 soundtracks). The type of soundtracks available on DVDs should be listed on the DVD packaging, as well as a selection provides on the DVD's menu screen.

For more details, refer to the Official DTS Digital Surround Page