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DTS Unveils Virtual Surround Technology

DTS is adding its name to the list of companies offering technologies that deliver multichannel surround sound through two speakers and through stereo headphones.

The company held live “A/B” demonstrations of the headphone version of the technology, called DTS Surround Sensation Headphone. The home theater version, called DTS Surround Sensation Speaker, wasn’t demonstrated, the company said, because the show floor isn’t conducive to a good virtual-surround demo. Both technologies will be available under license to CE suppliers.

DTS Surround Sensation uses psychoacoustic techniques to alter human perception, making listeners believe that sounds emanate from “outside the boundaries” of a two-speaker system or headphone pair, the company explained. Similar technologies are offered by Dolby and SRS for headphone and home theater use, and multiple companies offer their own proprietary versions of two-speaker surround technology for home theater use. Those companies include Bose, Pioneer, Samsung, and others.

Surround Sensation is useful in rooms, including bedrooms, in which “a fully discrete 5.1-channel surround system is simply not feasible,” said Dennis Goldenson, DTS research director. It’s also suitable for PC workstations and laptops, he said.

Besides delivering multichannel surround sound from only two speakers, the company said, DTS Surround Sensation also “supplements the weakened stereo image and ambience of digitally-compressed audio while keeping the monaural components, such as solo vocals, unchanged.”

The algorithm also:

  • enhances dialog clarity.
  • expands the soundstage of two-channel content while creating a phantom center channel. The algorithm creates the sensation that speakers or headphones are farther apart than they actually are, and yet some sounds will seem to emanate from directly in front of the listener, DTS said.
  • restores the perception of fundamental bass waves by “dynamically augmenting harmonics.”