It’s not that common for enthusiast home theater to get a lot of attention at the Consumer Electronics Show, but that pattern has been shaken up this year. Ever since Dolby Atmos hit the theaters with 3D surround sound a few years ago object-based acoustics has been touted as the eventual logical step in immersive home cinema, with some claiming that its importance is as big as Dolby Surround was back in the early nineties.
Made in a surprise announcement just made last week, DTS followed suit with its own interpretation called DTS:X; which rivals other object-based technology from Auro3D and Dolby. Details have been scant and the only lead anyone had to go on was the preview at their booth, which was all about the upcoming technology and how it will change the way you listen to films, music, and games for the future.
There was very little to show, but rather plenty to hear as I and many others were instructed to get in the “sweet spot” of an enclosed room while an array of speakers were fixed in the ceiling. The demo was brief but give us a good idea of how sound was manipulated and able to travel seamlessly between each individual zone, with scenes ranging from underwater sound bouncing from one ball to another, a birds-eye view of a city bustling with activity, to a Tron-like landscape with wireframe F1 cars tearing across a racetrack on a wraparound screen.
Each sequence was there to portray how 3D sound works in a proper setting, the general results were effective in execution especially during the finale where only the word “listen” gradually filled the room and I was able to tell directly where each of the voices were coming from. But a scene like the underwater whale transition focused more on forward sound instead of the intended feeling of enveloping you. regardless, I was able to discern the element of realism that went beyond a conventional channel-based (5.1/7.1/ 9.1/11.1) setup.
It’s probably safe to say that DTS:X will be another excellent choice for the enveloping theater s finally come home, and should be as amazing compared to my initial Dolby Atmos experience in delivery and setup when introduced. We can also assume that recently released upward speakers and ceiling installations could theoretically work just fine here too. As it stands now, timing is the main factor of many AVR manufacturers from Pioneer, Onkyo, to the likes of Denon; and we’re told that most of them are prepping their upcoming models for compatibility with a possible March release window.
But the questions remain whether DTS will dominate or play catch up with Dolby and Auro3D’s technologies that arrived months ago. More specifically, what’s in store for Blu-ray releases and if higher tier AV receivers available from 2014 will be able to take advantage of the roll-out. We’ll let you know if we get some answers in the coming weeks.