Demystifying DTS Virtual:X technology for home theatre buyers

May 17, 2018
Demystifying DTS Virtual:X technology for home theatre buyers —  Ooberpad
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DTS Virtual:X technology

DTS is an American technology company specializing in multichannel audio digital surround sound formats used for both commercial/theatrical and consumer grade applications. Founded under the name Digital Theater Systems, the company is now called Dedicated To Sound.

DTS licenses its technologies to consumer electronics manufacturers around the world. You may have seen the logo displayed on electronics such as media players, AVRs, surround sound processors, and even AV content such as movies, TV shows, and Video Games.

From all the patented technologies the company develops, DTS Virtual:X is one of most popular surround sound technologies already integrated into many home theatre electronics. What is DTS Virtual:X and where does it fit in your home entertainment system? Here, we demystify this innovative technology and help you understand it better to ensure that you take the right buying decision.

What is DTS Virtual:X?

What is DTS Virtual:X?

The core idea behind this technology is to engulf you in an immersive surround sound listening space. Instead of defining a fixed number of channels, one for each speaker, DTS:X allows the "location" (direction from the listener) of "objects" (audio tracks) to be specified as polar coordinates. The audio processor is then responsible for dynamically rendering sound output depending on the number and position of speakers available, very much like Dolby's Atmos technology. The surround arrays are bass managed by woofers suspended from the ceiling. In simpler words, DTS Virtual:X does the complicated job of making a few speakers sound like a lot of speakers for a virtual surround sound experience.

DTS has taken on this task with the development and implementation of its Virtual:X format. Built on the foundation of the already established DTS:X and DTS Neural:X surround sound formats, DTS Virtual:X expands the trend towards an immersive listening experience without the need for lots of speakers. DTS Virtual:X is designed mainly for home theater receivers and soundbars, however, it can also be used to enhance TV sound systems.

How does DTS Virtual:X work?

DTS Virtual:X TechnologyThe technology behind DTS Virtual:X is quite complex. When deployed, it analyzes incoming audio signals in real-time and employs sophisticated algorithms that make the best guess on where specific sounds should be placed in a 3-Dimensional listening space where no speakers may be present. The sound space may include either rear and/or overhead sounds. The process tricks the listener's ears into perceiving the presence of additional "phantom" or "virtual" speakers even though there may be as few as two physical speakers present.

DTS Virtual:X can work with any type of incoming multi-channel audio signal such as two-channel stereo, 5.1/7.1 channel surround sound, and immersive 7.1.4 channel audio. It uses up-mixing (for stereo) and added processing for other sound formats, that create a sound field that includes height and/or vertical surround elements without the need for additional speakers or wall or ceiling reflections. DTS Virtual:X is a great option for sound bars, as it can deliver an acceptable immersive surround sound experience even though you only have 2 (left, right) or 3 (left, centre, right) channels placed in the front of the listening area.

DTS Virtual:X does not require extensive setup procedures to use. On sound bars and TVs, it is just an on/off selection. For home theater receivers, if you "tell" your home theater receiver that you are not using physical surround back or height speakers, then DTS Virtual:X can be selected.

In terms of effectiveness based on room size, that would be partially determined by how much amplifier power support your sound bar, TV, or home theater receiver provides. Soundbars and TVs would be more appropriate for smaller rooms, whereas a home theater receiver would be apt for a medium or large size room.

DTS Virtual:X for your home theatre system

DTS Virtual:X simplifies the expansion of the surround sound listening, by providing primarily the perception of height channels, without requiring additional speakers. This solution is practical for use into soundbars and TVs. Also, for home theater receivers, it provides a practical solution for those that don't what to add physical height speakers but still desire a more immersive listening experience.

It is important to point out that for best results in a full home theater environment, adding dedicated physical height speakers (vertically firing or ceiling mounted) provides the most optimum result. That being said, DTS Virtual:X is definitely a game-changer in the field of surround sound formats.


One of the first DTS Virtual:X-equipped products available to consumers are the Yamaha YAS-207 soundbar and the Marantz NR1608 surround home theater AV receiver, which are readily available on Ooberpad India. As the technology gets popular, more home theatre enthusiasts and audiophiles can benefit from the amazing and immersive DTS Virtual:X processing technology.


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