DTS:X takes on Dolby Atmos from on high

DTS has announced its take on object-based surround sound, called DTS:X, which will debut in homes and cinemas this summer.

Ty Pendlebury Editor
Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.
Expertise Ty has worked for radio, print, and online publications, and has been writing about home entertainment since 2004. He majored in Cinema Studies when studying at RMIT. He is an avid record collector and streaming music enthusiast. Credentials
  • Ty was nominated for Best New Journalist at the Australian IT Journalism awards, but he has only ever won one thing. As a youth, he was awarded a free session for the photography studio at a local supermarket.
Ty Pendlebury
2 min read


[Updated 4/10 11.55am ET] DTS has officially announced its competitor to object-based surround-sound format Dolby Atmos -- a technology it calls DTS:X.

Like Atmos, DTS:X isn't mixed to discrete channels like a traditional soundtrack but supports a large number of simultaneous "objects" or sounds set in 3D space around the listener. The position of these objects is then interpreted by your receiver on the fly in order to suit your own particular speaker layout.

Fully backward-compatible with existing DTS bitstreams, the newest iteration of DTS:X will also incorporate height channels. In comparison, Dolby Atmos and the last version of Dolby Pro Logic IIz also include height channels.

What if you don't want to install speakers on the ceiling for overhead effects? While DTS is cagey saying it's "up to the manufacturers" it's very likely upward-firing speakers such as the Pioneer SP-EBS73-LR will be supported.

While Dolby Atmos debuted in cinemas first and appeared in home cinema systems several years later, DTS:X is set to debut in cinemas and homes at roughly the same time.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Brenden Theater at Las Vegas' Palm Hotel is the first theater to boast the technology. Further, it says DTS is working to have up to 350 cinemas online in Asia Pacific by the end of the northern summer 2015. In the United States seven Carmike Cinemas will be added in the spring.

Where DTS:X potentially differs from Atmos is that DTS promises that content creators can "mix once" for both the cinema and the home. Atmos still requires a separate mix for home releases, which potentially adds to the end cost for consumers.

DTS says it has agreements with "nearly 90 percent of the home AVR and surround processor market" and that products would begin launching in early summer of 2015. These include:

  • Denon - AVR-X7200W available now / DTS:X firmware upgrade later in 2015
  • Integra - launching several models by fall 2015
  • Marantz - AV8802 available now / DTS:X firmware upgrade later in 2015
  • Onkyo - launching several models by fall 2015
  • Pioneer - to be announced
  • Yamaha - launching DTS:X ready models in fall 2015

DTS says that the 2015 DTS:X receivers can support up to 11.2 speaker output channels in up to 32 different speaker locations.

CNET has tested DTS' rival Dolby Atmos with the small number of discs available on the market in spring 2015, but we need to hear a better selection of material before making any final judgments.