DTS has been there since the beginning, providing extraordinary surround sound in movie houses and home cinema systems
DTS or Digital Theatre Systems first roared into existence with the release of Jurassic Park in 1993. The company’s surround sound technology helped usher in a new era of digital filmmaking, bringing clarity, precision and power to movie soundtracks.
Since that blockbusting debut, the company has applied its sonic expertise to various multi-channel and high-fidelity audio formats, allowing DTS to deliver breathtaking aural landscapes at the cinema, and equally immersive experiences in the home.
When it comes to DTS in the home, there are several multi-channel formats that span both the history of the company, and the evolution of film surround sound.
This is the original consumer DTS format and was first introduced on LaserDisc and DVD way back in 1997. It’s a lossy 5.1-channel soundtrack that offers discrete front left and right channels, a centre channel for dialogue, rear left and right channels for surround effects, and a low frequency effects (LFE) channel for the deep bass hits.
DTS is often considered superior to rival format Dolby Digital, because it uses less compression and has a bigger bit-rate, resulting in higher fidelity and increased dynamic range. This is the version of DTS with which most people are familiar, and despite being 25 years old, continues to deliver gob-smacking sound quality.
This extension to DTS was launched in 2000, adding a back or centre surround between the two rear channels to create a 6.1-channel soundstage. This increases the surround envelopment by filling in the hole at the back of the room.
The extended surround channel is discrete, giving DTS-ES an advantage over Dolby’s competing Surround EX, which encodes the back channel within the signals of the two rear channels, thus requiring matrix processing to decode it.
While the original DTS format was capable of higher resolution audio for sonic purists, it was restricted to two channels of 24-bit/96kHz. DTS 96/24 expanded this to 5.1 channels of 24-bit/96kHz audio when it was introduced in 2001, allowing multi-channel music fans to enjoy their favourite recordings on DVD with exceptional levels of clarity.
Introduced in 2007, this lossless audio format can deliver up to 7.1 discrete channels, with the inclusion of two back surrounds. The format is capable of 5.1 channels at a resolution of 24-bit/192kHz, or 7.1 channels at 24-bit/96kHz.
The lossless nature of DTS-HD Master Audio results in a superior sonic experience, but also requires the increased storage capacity of Blu-rays and 4K discs. Since its introduction it has become the main audio format on Blu-ray.
This object-based audio format offers increased immersion using an expanded array of speakers, including overhead channels, to produce a three-dimensional soundstage. The format is delivered using DTS-HD Master Audio, making it backwards compatible, and although originally restricted to 12 channels with four or six overhead speakers, the introduction of DTS:X Pro has expanded the total speaker layout to a maximum of 32 channels with added width and overhead options.
The result is a sonic delivery that puts your local multiplex to shame, with audio objects that can be moved seamlessly within an acoustic bubble, creating a more lifelike aural experience. This hemisphere of sound results is a heightened realism that makes comedies funnier, action movies more exciting, and horror films scarier… much scarier! All you need to do is grab the popcorn, sit back and let DTS:X completely immerse you in your favourite movie.
Best of all, DTS:X is incredibly flexible and doesn’t require a specific speaker layout, adapting its processing to whatever is available. This allows you to arrange your speakers how you want, while still enjoying the benefits of immersive audio. But it also means your system can evolve as you add more speakers, expanding the channel configuration and ensuring that unlike the dinosaurs that heralded its arrival, DTS will never become extinct.
DTS doesn’t just bring mind-blowing immersion to your home with the latest DTS:X soundtracks on Blu-ray and 4K disc, it also gives your existing disc collection or any other content a new lease of life thanks its Neural:X technology. This feature is capable of applying cutting-edge processing to ‘upscale’ non-immersive soundtracks for more envelopment, allowing you to take advantage of all the speakers in your system. It’s amazing how good a simple 5.1 mix can sound when Neural:X is applied, in fact you’ll swear blind that you’re listening to a native immersive audio track.
Since DTS has been included on physical media for 25 years, there’s a healthy catalogue of film titles that use the format for their soundtracks. It’s unlikely you’ll be rocking a LaserDisc setup these days, but you’ll almost certainly have DVDs with DTS soundtracks in your collection, and DTS-HD Master Audio is the dominant format on Blu-ray. If you want to enjoy the object-based benefits of DTS:X, there are plenty of Blu-rays that include this format, along with a growing number of 4K discs.
DTS has been particularly successful when it comes to incorporating its technologies onto products from every major audio manufacturer. Whether it’s a soundbar, AV receiver or high-end AV processor it almost certainly sports some flavour of DTS decoding. So if you want to enjoy the sonic benefits of DTS, just look for the logo.