DTS:X vs Dolby Atmos vs DTS Play-Fi: surround sound and multi-room explained
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DTS:X vs Dolby Atmos vs DTS Play-Fi: encompass sound and multi-room defined

(Picture credit score: Dolby)

Dwelling audio is evolving. Each encompass sound and multi-room applied sciences have taken an enormous leap forwards with three applied sciences in recent times: DTS:X, Dolby Atmos and DTS Play-Fi.

The primary two are encompass sound applied sciences that promise to make your motion pictures and TV reveals extra immersive than ever, whereas DTS Play-Fi is a manufacturer-agnostic multi-room platform that may hyperlink gadgets of all types in lots of rooms all through the home.

You might properly have heard of 1, two or all three of those applied sciences. However do you actually know what they imply, how they work, and the way they differ from one another? Prick up your ears, as we clarify all.

What’s DTS:X? Making next-gen encompass sound open-source 

Like its rival Dolby Atmos, DTS:X is an object-based audio format that may place sound in additional particular areas across the room than with generic encompass sound. In contrast to its rival, although, it began life in dwelling cinema gadgets (in 2015) earlier than being carried out in cinemas themselves.

The intention is identical as Dolby Atmos: to let sound transfer across the room in a extra real looking method to match the motion on-screen, creating extra immersive cinematic experiences. However the best way it really works is completely different.

As a substitute of requiring further audio system (like Dolby Atmos), it really works with commonplace surround sound systems. So chances are high the set-up you’ve gotten at dwelling – be it 5.1 or 7.1 – is appropriate. However DTS:X can help far more intensive methods too, comprising as much as 32 speaker areas and as much as an 11.2-channel system.

DTS:X makes use of an open supply Multi-Dimensional Audio (MDA) platform. So identical to Android, any producer can create a system that will probably be appropriate with DTS:X with no particular permission required.

What’s Dolby Atmos? Bringing the cinema expertise dwelling

The tip results of Dolby Atmos is similar to DTS:X, however the know-how itself is sort of completely different.

For a begin, Atmos began life in cinemas, solely later coming to dwelling cinema merchandise like audio system and soundbars. Each Atmos and DTS:X are object-based encompass sound applied sciences, however Atmos places extra emphasis on top – a lot in order that Dolby recommends you put in ceiling audio system to get the total profit.

Clearly that’s not sensible for most individuals. However fortunately there are Dolby Atmos-certified audio system, TVs and soundbars with upward-firing drivers to bounce hold forth the ceiling. The end result? You’ll be enveloped in a ‘bubble’ of sound, with actions like a helicopter flying overhead or bullets whizzing previous your ears sounding extra lifelike than ever.

Atmos audio system additionally rely in the direction of the nomenclature of your system. So a 5.1 system (made up of 5 satellites and one subwoofer) with 4 Dolby Atmos audio system could be known as 5.1.4. 7.1.Four is the reference set-up for Dolby Atmos – in different phrases, the tech runs natively on a set-up comprising seven satellites, one sub and 4 Atmos audio system.

For a extra intensive have a look at Dolby Atmos, take a look at our full guide.

(Picture credit score: Dolby)

DTS:X vs Dolby Atmos: which is healthier?

That is the true query. On paper, DTS:X has the sting when it comes to sound high quality as a result of it helps increased bit charges. 

It’s not that straightforward, nonetheless. Dolby claims its codecs are extra environment friendly than DTS’, and therefore sound comparable and even higher at a decrease bit price. Regardless, there’s much more to contemplate than simply pure audio efficiency.

DTS:X helps you to manually regulate sound objects, so you may flip up the amount of voices, say. That may make hushed dialogue simpler to decipher, which is one thing many people have longed for throughout a Hollywood blockbuster.

DTS:X additionally doesn’t have any official speaker necessities, so so long as yours are appropriate, you may organize them just about nonetheless you want. Having mentioned that, many discover Dolby Atmos’ necessities a helpful information on tips on how to get probably the most from the know-how.

(Picture credit score: DTS)

Dolby Atmos can be extra generally discovered than DTS:X, regardless of round 90 p.c of the house AV market supporting the latter. Each Netflix and Amazon Prime Video help Atmos, somewhat than DTS:X, as do some TV broadcast channels like BT Sport Ultimate. Each Atmos and DTS:X round discovered on a number of DVDs and Blu-rays, in the event you’re watching on a 4K Blu-ray player too.

So, within the struggle between DTS:X and Dolby Atmos, there’s no clear winner. The excellent news is, you don’t essentially have to decide on between the 2. Loads of AV receivers and encompass sound methods help each applied sciences, so – so long as you’ve gotten the proper supply content material – you may take pleasure in high-quality audio whichever codec is used.

What’s DTS Play-Fi? Multi-room with out the dedication 

If you wish to hyperlink unrelated audio equipment throughout completely different rooms of the home to create a multi-room impact, DTS Play-Fi will help. It’s a wi-fi audio platform that’s licensed to hi-fi manufacturers. It implies that as a substitute of shopping for all of your audio gear from one producer like Sonos or Bluesound, you may wirelessly hyperlink gadgets made by plenty of completely different producers. These are principally ‘critical’ hi-fi manufacturers like McIntosh, Onkyo, Arcam, Klipsch, Polk and Thiel.

Suitable gadgets embrace wireless speakers, stereo systems, AV receivers, preamps, streamers, media servers and extra. You possibly can management all of them utilizing the Play-Fi app in your Android or iOS system, Amazon Fire tablet or laptop.

The app helps all the key streaming companies (Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, and many others), with the notable exception of Apple Music – although some Play-Fi-compatible merchandise do help Apple’s AirPlay 2 wi-fi tech.

Tidal trials offers deals

(Picture credit score: Tidal)

DTS Play-Fi helps MP3, M4A, AAC, FLAC, WAV and AIFF recordsdata as much as 16bit/48kHz decision with out compression. However in the event you select, you may stream increased decision recordsdata than that – utilizing the service’s Crucial Listening mode, you may stream as much as 24bit/192kHz (i.e. excessive decision) tunes throughout your wi-fi community. Although these recordsdata will probably be fairly giant, so that you would possibly need to use a wired connection to keep away from the playback stuttering like Grandmaster Melle Mel.

So what number of gadgets are you able to add to your house community? As many as you want, although DTS recommends a most of 32 to keep away from efficiency points. And as much as 16 Play-Fi gadgets can play the identical tune. Think about: Elton John’s Rocketman following you round the home. Terrifying.

You may also management Play-Fi utilizing your voice via Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri voice assistants.

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