DTS:X surround sound

In the battle for surround sound, Dolby and DTS have been long-time rivals. The latest battlefield is "object-based sound”, where sound can be precisely controlled and placed throughout the listener’s environment. DTS: X looks to challenge Dolby's object-based audio technology (Dolby Atmos) not just in movie theaters, but also in the home theater. Movie producers are able to place the sound wherever they way, with the first title, Lionsgate's Ex Machina, due out in mid-July. It features an encoded DTS: X soundtrack, along with DTS Headphone:X, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and English 5.1 DTS Digital Surround.

A step up from DTS-HD, DTS: X will require the A/V receiver to be compatible — either a firmware update (in some cases) or the purchase of new hardware will be necessary. However, the Blu-ray disc which has the DTS: X soundtrack will function with any modern Blu-ray player, transmitting the audio as a bit stream through the HDMI cable. Additionally, as DTS:X metadata is transmitted through DTS-HD Master surround soundtracks, and DTS-HD has been approved for the upcoming 4K Blu-ray discs, it's expected the new audio technology will also be available to play on the soon-to-be-released 4K Blu-ray players. DTS is providing an open source and license free DTS:X's Multi-Dimensional Audio (MDA) platform for creating the audio format.

Where DTS:X differs from Dolby Atmos is in the speaker configuration. Dolby’s audio technology requires additional (height) speakers to an existing 5.1 or 7.1 audio system setup in order to work. DTS:X doesn’t need added speakers — it will function with whatever home theater audio system is already in place (in setups reaching 11.2). 

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Approximately 90% of the industry is supporting DTS:X, with compatible audio components slated to reach the market this summer. While DTS has not said what further titles are to be released in 2015 (in comparison, Dolby Atmos-compatible Blu-ray discs will number 12 as of June 30), the company has stated that the audio technology will also be available on streaming services at an as-yet unknown time.

Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture. Past accomplishments include editing of home theater and video gaming publications domestic and international, operating a NY photographic studio specializing in children/product and providing graphic imaging for video game box art, manuals and related.