back to article DTS announces DTS:X – sparks object-based audio war with Dolby

In a move that could have far-reaching implications for home audio, multi-channel goliath DTS has announced an object-based sound system to rival Dolby Atmos (and the largely ignored Auro-3D). Dubbed DTS:X, the technology is somewhat different in that there’s no prescribed number of audio channels or speaker configuration to …

  1. djack

    "Consequently, with DTS:X you could boost the dialogue level of a movie to suit specific listening conditions. This is apparently a much asked-for feature by users of surround systems."

    At last a real use-case for these systems for most users. Having a 5.1 system at home, I am always confused by how much of a difference in the dialogue mix there is with different media. It's not unknown to have to crank up the volume to be able to make out what people are saying and then feel like the plaster is coming off the walls when something loud happens a second later. The dialogue is (usually) the most important biit of the sound.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      One of the examples for this that DTS was touting at IBC last year was things like sports broadcasts, where you can choose your own mix of commentator, crowd, and even in some cases sound from miked up players, like the goalie or ref. You can see a screenshot of how that sort of thing might work in terms of interface at the top of my IBC report.

      I would imagine that for films, it would be along very similar lines.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ nigel

        I like the idea of getting rid of the commentator, no more bloody Clive Tyldesley.

        1. Gamberoni

          and Andy Townsend

      2. Xpositor

        So for films, does that mean each dialogue element could be referenced independently? So we could watch a film where we could choose the dub, e.g. Harry could be talking in English, but Hermione in Swedish?

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: Harry could be talking in English, but Hermione in Swedish

          Yes, technically it probably could.

          Unfortunately, copyright laws and their assorted wolfish lawyers will dumb down the tech and you'll never be able to actually use DTS:X to its full potential.

          Not unless you unlock those abilities with a patch, obviously, but then you become a filthy pirate for wanting to actually use your material the way you intend to.

        2. Nigel Whitfield.

          @ Xpositor

          I suppose that may depend on how exactly all the objects are marked up; for instance, all the objects that make up the dialogue of a film could simply be bundled together as "dialogue" so you control them as one.

          Or they could all be separate.

          And yes, one of the things that DTS talked about was the ability for extra streams to be sourced from elsewhere and synchronised with the main video, so I suppose it might be possible to do something like that.

          More likely, I suspect, would be just swapping all the dialogue for the dubbed version.

          (As far as I remember, the specific example I chatted to them about for this was the Eurovision Song Contest; a system like this could allow technically people to choose the commentary of their home country, no matter where they were watching it.)

          Of course, while the technical side of the whole thing is clever - especially the ability to effectively downmix to match whatever your speaker combination is, as well as relative levels etc - how much you will get in implementation remains to be seen.

          In that screenshot, for example, one of the items has a padlock and was locked out; something that DTS talked about was the ability for certain things to be available depending on what the operator wants, so for instance everyone might get the ability to alter those relative levels of some thing in a sports game, but only people who've paid a premium get to hear the coach, or the goalkeeper.

        3. Fibbles

          So for films, does that mean each

          dialogue element could be referenced

          independently? So we could watch a

          film where we could choose the dub,

          e.g. Harry could be talking in English,

          but Hermione in Swedish?

          You could even watch the StarWars prequels with JarJar on mute.

    2. Chewi

      I found that very frustrating when I initially bought my Yamaha RX-V775 but switching on Adaptive DRC totally did the trick. It compresses the range at lower volume levels when you don't want to wake your kid and disturb the neighbours but you still benefit from a broader range when you crank it up in the middle of the day.

    3. PhilipJ

      any modern AV receiver supports dynamic range compression, you don't need DTS:X for that

      1. Wilseus

        "any modern AV receiver supports dynamic range compression, you don't need DTS:X for that"

        That statement is true, but the OP is talking about something different: increasing the volume of the dialogue without affecting the rest of the soundtrack in any way.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        True enough, but DRC is no way to listen to a movie anymore than it's the thing to do with music. I want to hear a difference in volume between a gas explosion and somebody crumpling a piece of paper, you know.

        More seriously, did the OP consider using a higher efficiency dialogue speaker? Despite what the advertisers would like you to think, there's absolutely no reason at all to buy a 'surround set' of speakers. I went the other path, with lower efficiency front speakers to bring the dialogue up.

    4. Michael Habel

      It's not unknown to have to crank up the volume to be able to make out what people are saying and then feel like the plaster is coming off the walls when something loud happens a second later.

      Isn't this why you can set each Chanel Volume independently of each other? Hell my ancient (and very crappy while new) Creative DDTS-100 Decoder (7.1 DD & DTS) Decoder was able to do that much. Oddly enough after 11 odd Years... its still working just fine. No it can't do DD True HD or DTS-MA, but I also still don't have a Blueray Player either... Refusing to count the PS3 in the Corner, that is.

      Besides I'm already p!55ing the Neighbors off enough already when I watch Star Wars Flicks with this System up and, running, as it is :D

      1. David 45

        Deciballs

        "It's not unknown to have to crank up the volume to be able to make out what people are saying and then feel like the plaster is coming off the walls when something loud happens a second later."

        Dunno about yours but my kit has independent channel level controls (as all have) but only accessible from an initial set-up menu. Not really practical to try and adjust levels, such as the centre dialogue, "on-the-fly" whilst watching anything, which I think is what is being said here. It's only the master volume control that is easily adjustable once the others are set. I would concur that sound editors seem to have different ideas as to what should be up-front, volume-wise. I've also noticed a distinct lack of clarity on dialogue at times on certain films.

    5. Joseph Eoff

      One more of those things the world can do without

      Or, at least, I can.

      One of these days I've got to finally buckle down and build an AGC box to put at the input to the amplifier.

      I do NOT appreciate having to crank up the volume to hear the dialog only to have the windows in the living room shatter when some clown on screen farts.

  2. dogged
    Headmaster

    I'm confused.

    Does

    Not uncoincidentally,

    mean "by coincidence"? Because apparently it's not uncoincidental.

    Headache icon, please.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. whitespacephil

      Believe it or not but there is a specific setting on some home AV kit that is to enable you to do just that. It's called Front Surround. And while it won't appeal to proper audiophiles/cineasts, it will appeal to those who haven't yet committed to enveloping themselves in the speaker layout (and the incidental cabling...)

    2. Rusty 1

      So true.

      2.0 system installations are frequently sub-optimal, let alone anything with more jiggly bits. Corners, angles of speakers to walls, proximity of speakers to walls/obstacles, height of the speakers (for higher frequencies) all colour the perceived sound. If you have curtains in the room, the experience will be different when they are drawn. If your mother-in-law is sitting in the corner, the experience will be affected, although that's probably not physics.

      Just enjoy the story of the film/show/programme. Oh bugger, that's where they've skimped.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        2.0 system installations are frequently sub-optimal, let alone anything with more jiggly bits

        Wife 2.0?

        /tiptoes away..

      2. Nigel Whitfield.

        Since DTS:X is, effectively mapping an object into a space, based on the speaker setup you tell it you have, it could account for this.

        Lots of AV kit has the ability to configure automatically using a small microphone, which you place in your normal listening position. There's no reason I can see why the information gained by doing that couldn't be used to inform the placing of the objects onto the different channels during playback, to more accurately recreate their position.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Huh?

      "I mean, seriously, even installing a 5.1 system correctly, taking into account the room acoustics is a challenge. The rule of diminishing results certainly applies as you add more channels to a home cinema setup."

      Isn't that the point of the DTS system?

      You can place your channels anywhere in the room and it will model the room for you?

      So if you don't have a proper listening room, you can surround yourself with X speakers and then model the room and then playback the sound?

  4. Rusty 1
    Happy

    2

    I'm still using the same 2 speaker setup I've had for over 25 years.

    It provides a wonderful stereo experience - you see, there is one speaker to the left, and the other to the right. Just like my ears!

    1. cosymart
      Happy

      Re: 2

      As someone who is deaf in one ear, and always has been I find this talk interesting. I would dearly love to get a decent mono system :-)

      1. GlenP Silver badge

        Re: 2

        Exactly the same problem here. One plus point for the iPhone is that they include a Mono audio setting under Accessibility.

      2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: 2 @cosymart

        Presuming that you're not trolling me then get a Quad mono system. Start with the preamp, get the amp and an electrostatic speaker later.

        http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/acoustical_quad_control_unit_qc_ii.html

        http://www.stereophile.com/content/quad-ii-classic-monoblock-power-amplifier-page-2

        http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/acoustical_esl_electrostatic_loudsp.html

        You'll need a large room because the speaker has to be 3ft from a wall to get any bass out of it. Great for classical music.

        1. cosymart
          Facepalm

          Re: 2 @cosymart

          Me trolling.... Honest comment guv. That Quad system is the same age as I am, good grief are you telling me that I have to get a 60+ years old system to get decent mono. Who's trolling who here?

          1. Deryk Barker

            Re: 2 @cosymart

            I doubt it. My Linn preamp has a mono switch.

    2. Pookietoo
      Mushroom

      Re: 2

      I'll occasionally plug in a 2.1 system if I'm watching a movie that might benefit from good crashes and rumbles, but for the most part the speakers in the telly are good enough. Philistine, me?

      1. Jim Lewis

        Re: 2

        With almost any AV tech if you're happy with what you have great. The issue usually arises that only when you see/hear new stuff you realise how crap your existing set up is. 5.1 sound versus TV speakers, I highly doubt you'll prefer TV only for anything except voice only.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: 2

          5.1 sound versus TV speakers, I highly doubt you'll prefer TV only for anything except voice only.

          I've heard 5.1 systems in stores and at others' homes, and I have no inclination whatsoever to use anything other than the speakers in the television.

          I, too, am annoyed at the crap sound mixing that makes BGM and SFX much too loud and dialog too quiet, but putting in a "sound system" just so I can boost the center channel is more effort than it's worth, as far as I'm concerned. I'll just avoid programming that doesn't mix the sound to my liking. The vast majority of it is crap anyway, as far as I'm concerned. (I do think there's actually a lot that's good on television these days, but strangely very little of it suffers from the thundering-SFX problem.)

        2. Pookietoo

          Re: I highly doubt you'll prefer TV only

          I prefer the TV not to dominate our living space - it sits fairly quietly in the corner showing mostly comedy, chat and factual programs, types which don't really benefit from an "immersive experience".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consequently, with DTS:X you could boost the dialogue level of a movie to suit specific listening conditions.

    Will it compensate for the mumble effect that actors use? I assume they mumble because they have not learnt diction. It is most annoying to have to crank up the volume and then still not be able to understand what they are saying.

  6. tekHedd

    Or as old school gamers call it "A3D"

    Object-based surround, aka "positional audio" was something we had! Briefly. As gamers. Before Creative bought them and all the patents, never used it, and stoped trying. Now all our receivers and gaming systems try to give us "virtual speakers". Which sounds exactly as disappointing as you would think.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Or as old school gamers call it "A3D"

      I think Aureal was a bit too far ahead of its time. Positional audio for headphones, let alone arbitrary speaker setups, was computationally intense back around 2000. The big turn off for gamers as a result was that games like Half-Life started to lag and stutter when they used positional audio. I know that was my experience when I used a Diamond A3D card with Half-Life: the frame rate dropped with it in use.

  7. cortland

    Nice

    Nice Hallicrafters' in the picture.

  8. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Alert

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    "This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external links, and by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view."

  9. John Geek

    i unplugged and packed away our rear channels some ages ago. family room now just has a full range pair of stereo speakers, no sub or center or what all. the mains have a big woofer so sub is superfluous other than for rattling the windows, and a virtual center channel works just fine. the sofa is on the back wall, so the only place to put rear channels was next to you, which sounded awful and annoying. wife 1.0 nixed putting the sofa in the middle of the room.

  10. Andy Mc

    > Marantz will offer firmware upgrades

    Hah, yeah, like they are with adaptive streaming on their current generation network streamers? Oh, that's right, they decided they CBA.

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