What is DTS: X?

What is DTS: X?

DTS: X surround sound is everywhere, from AV receivers (AVRs) to cinemas to Blu-ray players. It promises to deliver an immersive audio experience. But how does it work and do you need new hardware to try it out?

Multidimensional sound

DTS: X is an audio codec that was introduced in 2015 for cinemas and home theaters. It is essentially a competitor to Dolby Atmos, another surround sound format.

The codec attempts to mimic the real-world sound experience through object-based surround and sound speaker systems. Object-based audio is a mixing technology in which sound elements are mapped to positions in a 3D field. It comes with metadata that tells a receiver how sound elements should be played.

As a result, when DTS: X audio is played, you get an immersive multidimensional sound experience similar to how we hear sound in our daily life.

The highlight of the DTS: X codec is its adaptability. It does not require a specific speaker configuration or a fixed number of channels to function. The codec adapts to any surround sound setup you have. It supports up to 11.1 channels and unlimited sound elements.

Another interesting feature of the DTS: X codec is its ability to modify sound elements such as dialogue. So, for example, you can raise the level of voices from background sounds when you want to get clear dialogue. But dialogue control must be enabled by the creator.

The foundation of DTS: X lies on the company’s Multi-Dimensional Audio (MDA) platform, which enables movie studios to create object-based audio. It is an open and free platform that supports mixing of both object-based and channel-based audio formats. So creators don’t need to work across platforms to create soundtracks for DTS: X and other formats.

What is DTS Neural: X?

A vital part of the DTS: X format is DTS Neural: X, an upmixer package that comes with the codec. Ensures that audio mixed for older DTS or non-DTS formats is optimized for the current speaker configuration. So when you play content that doesn’t have a DTS: X track, the upmixer will scale it for your setup and provide a 3D audio experience. Like DTS: X, DTS Neural: X also supports up to 11.1 channels.

What do you need to experience DTS: X?

Denon DTS: X AVR

While the DTS: X codec is quite adaptable and will work with your existing surround sound setup, you’ll still need new hardware, such as a compatible DTS: X Blu-ray player and AVR, and DTS: X-enabled content to enjoy.

Fortunately, nearly all major AVR manufacturers offer DTS: X support in their products. This way you can get compatible devices like Denon, Marantz, Arcam and others. Likewise, you will find many Blu-ray players and soundbars with the codec on the market.

DTS is also working to bring support for the DTS: X codec directly to televisions. The first televisions with DTS: X were launched in 2021 by Turkish manufacturer Vestel. On other devices, DTS: X is supported on the latest Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PCs.

Depending on your hardware, there are a few ways you can wire your setup. You can connect your Blu-ray player or Xbox to an AV receiver and let DTS: X audio pass through to your speaker system, or connect your Blu-ray player directly to a soundbar if it has an HDMI audio out port . You can also connect your Blu-ray or Xbox player to your TV and use the eARC port to stream audio to a soundbar.

Coming to DTS: X content, it is mostly found on Blu-ray discs. Different versions of Blu-ray movies include DTS: X audio. Unfortunately, unlike Dolby Atmos, DTS: X content is not available through any streaming service at the end of 2021. But that may change in the future.

Another way to experience DTS: X is to watch a movie with the DTS: X soundtrack in a compatible theater. The number of supported cinemas is limited, but you can find DTS: X cinemas in the United States, Belgium, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar and Switzerland. The full list of DTS: X cinemas is available on the DTS website .

Is DTS: X Backward Compatible?

Denon AVR

DTS: X is backward compatible. So if your AVR or soundbar supports DTS-HD Master Audio but not DTS: X, it will still be able to play DTS: X-enabled content. You’ll lose the immersive object-based audio aspects, but still get a great surround sound experience. This is possible because DTS: X is superimposed on the DTS: HD Master Audio track, so essentially, the AVR or soundbar ignores the DTS: X metadata and plays the DTS: HD Master Audio track.

What is DTS: X Pro?

DTS: X Pro is an enhanced version of the DTS: X format for home cinema users. It was introduced in 2019 and mainly increased the number of channels supported by the codec from 11.1 to 30.2. Another change in DTS: X Pro is a new version of the DTS Neural: X upmixer to accommodate increased channel support. So the new upmixer can enhance old DTS or non-DTS content to use up to 30.2 channels in speaker setup.

The rest of DTS: X Pro is similar to DTS: X. Also, you don’t need any new content for it. DTS: X Pro decoders fully support all DTS: X content.

However, DTS: X Pro is not as widely available as DTS: X and is limited to premium AVRs from Denon, Marantz and Trinnov.

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