DTS (Digital Theater Systems)

What is DTS?

DTS (Digital Theater Systems) are structures of multi-channel audio technologies owned by DTS, Inc.; an American company explicitly specializing in digital surround sound formats used for both commercial, theatrical, and consumer grade applications.

DTS audio

When DTS audio tracks are encoded at its highest legal bitrate (1509.75 kbps), technical experts rank DTS as perceptually transparent for most audio program material (i.e., indistinguishable to the un-coded source in a double-blind test). However, in program material available to the home consumer markets (DVD, broadcast, and subscription digital TV) , neither DTS nor other technologies typically run at their highest allowed bitrate—DVD and broadcast (ATSC) HDTV cap AC-3 (Audio Code 3) bitrates at 448 kbps.

However, even at that rate, consumer audio gear already enjoys better audio performance than theatrical (35 mm movie) installations, which are limited to even lower bitrates. When DTS audio was introduced to DVD specifications, studios authored DVD movies at DTS full bitrate (1509.75 kbps). Later, movie titles were almost always encoded at a reduced bitrate of 754.5 kbps, seemingly to increase the number of audio tracks on the movie disc. At this reduced rate (754.5 kbps), DTS no longer retains audio transparency.

DTS sound formats

DTS has developed three high-definition audio formats:

  • DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio: This format is roughly equivalent to Dolby Digital Plus, providing a compressed but higher-resolution surround-sound format with up to 7.1 channels of 96 KHz, 24-bit surround
    sound. It’s used on Blu-ray discs when there isn’t enough space on the disc for the uncompressed Master Audio format.
  • DTS-HD Master Audio: This is the best of the audio formats by DTS—it is equivalent to Dolby’s TrueHD and provides up to 7.1 channels of uncompressed surround-sound audio.
  • DTS Neo:X™ offers a multi-dimensional audio experience by optimizing 5.1 or 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio™ soundtracks up to a full 11.1 experience. Newer AV receivers that feature Neo:X processing, utilize dedicated
    height/wide speakers that provide distinct direction for certain sounds. The height speaker (above the listening area) adds a vertical dimension for overhead sounds (rain, airplanes, birds, etc.),while the wide speakers provide tracking of front-to-side sound (people walking, cars moving, etc.) for a three-dimensional audio experience.

    Neo:X configures stereo, 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 source material and outputs up to 11.1 channels, including front height and width channels. It supports both front height and front wide channels and 11.1 encoding through
    matrixing front height and front wide channel information into the front and surround channels of a 5.1 or 7.1 audio mixes respectively.


To download the PDF of this article, fill in the fields below and click the Submit button.

Fields marked with an * are required

Place the result of the math problem in the box before clicking "Submit"