DTS Enters Immersive Cinema Sound System Market With DTS:X

Audio technology developer DTS aims to return to cinemas with its new object-based immersive sound system DTS:X.

The company first introduced DTS:X — the successor to DTS-HD — at January's CES for the home market, reporting support from a wide range of consumer electronics makers as well as speaker manufacturers. It plans to use the upcoming CinemaCon confab in Las Vegas to begin its push to bring DTS:X to movie theaters.

In recent years, Dolby (Atmos) and Barco (Auro) have been competing for immersive cinema-sound installations, which theater owners have been generally aiming at premium auditoriums. DTS’ chief marketing officer, Kevin Doohan, claimed theater owners can get to DTS:X with a lower-cost barrier to entry by starting with just a few additional speakers and a supported server (QSC and USL already offer this support). “We can accommodate smaller rooms," he said. "Our object-base spec will have an element of height in the mix, which can be done either with speakers in the ceiling or high up.”

The Brenden Theater at Las Vegas’ Palm Hotel has already been equipped with DTS:X, and DTS plans to demonstrate the system in this venue at CinemaCon, which takes place April 20-23.

DTS is currently targeting cinemas in North America and Asia. GDC Technology is DTS’ DTS:X integration partner in the Asia-Pacific region, and its projecting roughly 350 installations by this summer.

To deliver a DTS:X sound mix to a theater, it needs to be offered in DTS’ MDA (multi-dimentional audio) format.

In an effort to side-step a format war, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers has been working on a single standard format for immersive sound so that any mix will play in any theater, whether it's equipped for Dolby Atmos, Barco Auro, or, now, DTS:X. MDA is already one of the formats that has been proposed for this purpose; DTS said it would be available for use license fee-free.

As for content, DTS reported that it’s working with several major studios and mixing stages in California and Canada that are evaluating their system.