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DTS Unveils Neo:X 11.1-Channel Surround

1/17/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
LAS VEGAS — DTS went to International CES to launch Neo:X post-processing surround-sound technology, promoted as the first technology to upmix stereo and multichannel audio programs to as many as 11.1 channels.

DTS Neo:X adds a pair of front-height speakers and a pair of front-wide speakers to a traditional 5.1-channel or 7.1-channel surround-sound speaker system.

The first A/V receivers and preamp-processors incorporating the technology could hit the market as soon as the second quarter of 2011, DTS told TWICE.

The front-height speakers “bring discrete effects to the vertical dimension,” enabling an aircraft to seem as if it’s flying overhead, DTS said. The front-height speakers also “elevate ambient sounds,” such as wind, thunder, background music, public address systems, and the like.

The front-wide speakers, DTS continued, widen the front sound-stage image while also providing “smooth and seamless tracking of front-to-side actions,” such as the sound of a car moving from the front to the left side of the screen.

Though the Neo:X matrix-up-mixing technology will work its magic on existing two-, 5.1- and 7.1-channel soundtracks, DTS said movie studios could also produce Neo:X-optimized soundtracks. Studios would be able to produce directional cues that could be heard only through front-height and front-wide speaker channels with no audible leakage to other speakers, DTS said. The soundtracks would be compatible with standard 5.1- and 7.1-channel home theater system, DTS noted.

It’s for any DTS, Dolby or PCM soundtrack to incorporate the additional cues, though “to get the best effects out of it, you should use the DTS-HD MA 7.1 [codec],” DTS contended.

As a post-processing technology, Neo:X is promoted as up-converting 2.0-, 5.1-, 6.1- and 7.1-channel soundtracks to 9.1 or 11.1 channels. The technology also features cinema, music and game modes. Cinema mode is said to deliver a clear center channel with dialog enhancement and “ambient cues for immersive effects.” Music mode delivers “enhanced immersion in a recorded environment,” and game mode provides “strong directionality for an interactive experience,” DTS said.

For its part, Audyssey Laboratories already offers Dynamic Surround Expansion (DSX) post-processing technology, which adds front-height speakers and a pair of image-widening front speakers to a traditional 5.1-speaker setup to create systems with up to 9.1 channels. Dolby offers Dolby Pro Logic IIz, which adds front-height channels to 5.1 and 7.1 systems to create systems with up to 9.1 channels.
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