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Survey: 5.1 Surround Abounds In Home Theater Households

Most home theater owners are cranking up surround sound systems with five or more discrete audio channels, and most of these surround system owners believe surround sound is the most important special feature on DVDs, according to a consumer survey commissioned by DTS.

The survey, conducted in conjunction with Nielsen Entertainment Research, also found that owners of 5.1- to 7.1-channel surround systems buy more DVD discs than owners of less sophisticated surround systems.

The results are part of a home theater study that includes current and projected penetration of home theater systems, which the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates were in 33 percent of U.S. households at the end of 2004, up from 21 percent at the end of 1999. CEA defines a home theater system as including a TV set with minimum 27-inch screen, DVD player or VCR, surround decoder and a minimum of four speakers instead of the five or more needed to reproduce 5.1-channel surround sound.

DTS contends the results underscore “the importance of sound to the home entertainment experience.”

The on-line survey of 2,000 adults ages 18 to 65 found that:

  • 75 percent of current home theater households have installed at a minimum a 5.1-channel surround sound system, and some have installed 6.1- and 7.1-channel systems.
  • 73 percent of home theater owners, and 76 percent of owners of 5.1+ surround systems, indicate that upgraded surround sound is “the most important special feature on DVDs.”
  • owners of 5.1+ systems “are proactively selecting the sound format at the beginning of a movie, with 82 percent saying they “always” or “sometimes” choose an audio format at the beginning of a movie. That’s up by 27 percentage points compared to the previous year.
  • owners of 5.1+ home theater systems “represent a broad segment of the population.” The majority of 5.1+ system owners range in age from 25 to 54 years old with annual household incomes ranging anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000.
  • owners of 5.1+ surround systems own 45 percent more DVDs than non-home theater owners.
  • almost 60 percent of home theater owners and 63 percent of 5.1+ surround sound owners are aware of DTS.

The survey also contends that “DTS-aware consumers own a significantly higher proportion of DVDs vs. those consumers not DTS-aware” and that “consumers aware of DTS strongly agree that the DTS brand reflects superior audio technology and quality.”