Audio technology company DTS is to re-enter the cinema sound market, launching a new immersive sound format for cinema and home entertainment. DTS:X is an open standard object-based sound format for cinemas and home theatre systems. At its base, is the open format licence free MDA platform that enables object-based mixing, storage and play out of content. DTS has partnered with GDC Technology for this launch, both for technology reasons and as an exclusive dealer of DTS:X in Asia. As an integrating partner, GDC is a leading server company and can simply install the MDA firmware needed on its server base. The company is used to acting as an equipment re-seller and has good links with exhibitors. GDC will be installing a targeted 350 systems into Asian exhibitors from May 2015. Other technical partners are audio specialists QSC and USL.
In North America, Carmike Theatres is the first major exhibitor client and will install seven screens of the DTS:X sound format in Spring 2015.
On the content creation side, DTS’s system is currently being evaluated by studios and sound mixers in Hollywood. The MDA platform allows a single mix to be done for all formats
For the home entertainment area, a range of major manufacturers of home audio/video receivers (AVR) and surround sound processors will be incorporating DTS:X into their products and launching products from this summer, including Yamaha, Denon, Marantz, Onky and Pioneer.
This announcement shakes up the cinema sound market, adding a third player to the existing immersive sound duopoly, and one with a credibility in sound and an ability to leverage this format into the home entertainment world.
DTS does have two issues to overcome though. Firstly, having pulled out of the cinema sector some years back although it still supported its installed base, it will need to convince exhibitors and content creators that it is back in the market for the long haul. Secondly, the company is playing catch up in immersive sound with Dolby and Barco Auro, which have between them around 1,450 installed systems to date.
However, with its latest offering in the cinema space, DTS has targeted a wider screen presence outside of the premium cinema space, where Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro more comfortably sit, as it is reportedly offered with a lower-cost barrier to entry, as the system can be more flexible starting with a few additional speakers. The system can also accommodate smaller rooms, based on an element of height in the design, which could be particularly attractive to smaller screens and exhibition circuits. As a result, the system opens up the immediate market for immersive sound to a wider array of screens.