Dueling Surround Formats Won’t Sow Confusion

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Las Vegas -- The emergence of DTS:X object-based surround as a Dolby Atmos competitor shouldn’t inject uncertainty or confusion into the market.

For one thing, audio suppliers already accommodate multiple formats – such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master—in A/V receivers and preamp processors, and they’ll likely be able to do it again. “Major chip companies historically have built multicodec solutions,” DTS chairman/CEO Jon Kirchner points out.

Many audio components are also firmware-upgradable, so it’s likely that many Dolby Atmos AVRs and preamp processors could be upgraded to include DTS:X decoding to prevent obsolescence.

More important, DTS:X “supports any speaker layout,” including Dolby Atmos speaker layouts that include height speakers, said Kirchner. Consumers won’t have to worry about cluttering up their living rooms with two separate speaker configurations and switching between them depending on the soundtrack they’re playing.

DTS has “worked with manufacturers to make sure the first implementations include pre-selected [speaker] layouts which overlap with familiar layouts,” a spokesperson added.

Familiar layouts include 5.1 layouts without height speakers. “We don’t require elevation speakers,” Kirchner said. “We can render height virtually.”

It will be the manufacturer’s decision to support traditional 5.1-speaker layouts, he noted. Although there are advantages to more speakers, “flexibility adds more value to the consumer.”

Here at International CES, DTS is demonstrating 22.2-channel DTS:X. “You identify the locations of the speakers and render to it,” Kirchner said.

DTS will reveal more about its technology sometime in March.

Companies launching DTS:X electronics in 2015 consist of Anthem, Denon, Integra, Krell, Marantz, McIntosh, Onkyo, Outlaw Audio, Pioneer, Steinway Lyngdorf, Theta Digital, Trinnov Audio and Yamaha, DTS said. Additional companies adopting the technology will be announced “in the coming months,” DTS added.


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