Is the DTS vs Dolby war effectively over?

je1992

Member
Apr 6, 2022
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Great article, was a great intro to non audiophiles to these various formats.

One thing I hate about the fact these companies don't pay for the DTS license, is that even if its use is getting more and more niche (bluray, or listening to blurays as remux files on plex, etc.), is that these soundbars or home theather products are sometimes high end. If I pay 2000 USD for a soundbar, you better pay the 10$ required to provide me the DTS:X format, even if I only use it once per year, because there is no way in my mind an expensive product like this shouldn't tick ALL the boxes.

This is why I'm happy with my Samsung Q950A and LG B9, both can still process dts:x
 

JonHolstein

Member
Apr 6, 2022
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DTS:X has a clearly superior feature, that unfortunately wasn't mandatory;
Dialogue as object based volume control.

DTS has better backwards compatibility, but I guess there are few situations where that would be necessary today, unless perhaps for the Logitech THX branded surround systems, that are the best really cheap surround systems, but they only offer optical input or 5.1 analog inputs for surround, limited to DD and DTS, in their basic spec.

Back to the dialogue feature.
Mixing of dialogue has several of issues.
One, the rooms they do it in, are nothing like home cinemas, and not even anything like actual cinemas. It isn't uncommon to mostly use nearfield monitors either.
But even worse than that, the people doing the mixing will hear, the dialogue over and over, until they know it, at least partly, and when you know what someone is saying, you will hear it more clearly.
So they don't know how bad dialogue is mixed.
And on many early listening events, the people in the room are familiar with the dialogue, or aren't really engaged in the experience at all. And the "outside" people that have issues hearing the dialogue, also likely aren't people in a position to complain about it.

Object based audio, with ability to tag it, opened a whole new opportunity when it came to consumers finally getting control over dialogue volume, but only the DTS team understood it, but even they allowed it to be a choice.
Even if we would pretend that issues hearing dialogue only came down to the bad off axis response of the center-speaker in combination with issues with room reflections, so it could be blamed on the consumer, still, why wouldn't you want to give the consumer the option to increase the dialogue level so that they can actually hear the performance of the actors, without missing out of content or having to enable subtitles that get in the way of screen content. The business is filled with egos.


The music business has a lot of egos as well, with a lot of harsh sounding mixes out there, probably due to hearing issues, bad playback rooms, or the selection of monitoring speakers or amplifier.
And this weird idea that bass should have a boost or saturation above 100 Hz, so that phone speakers and similar will at least give a hint of a bass sound being there, while most people have access to headphones that are capable of some bass playback at least, and those who don't bother listening with headphones or at least a semi capable speaker, probably don't care enough about the music to really notice elements of it missing.
We also have panned bass, unintentionally, that creates an issue when played back on headphones, as in a room you can't tell the direction of low end content, but with the isolation of headphones you can. There are other weird issues when missing the crosstalk of each speaker sound reaching the opposite ear (stereo reverb reflections and actual positioning of audio that differs a lot when experienced through headphones).

In theory with a complex object based sound format, it would actually be possible to deal with the crosstalk and bass issues, by instructing the equipment how to decode depending on the playback, I guess it would even in theory be possible to add objects that are muted on proper playback, to add that bass bump, when needed.
I guess that is one place where the next format could actually offer something that Dolby does not do, or at least not well at this point. It tries to do surround in headphones, with a few issues on how it affects the mix and reverb sounds. But it doesn't take advantage of being object based to differ the decoding on stereo material or mostly stereo material, for headphones vs speakers, and as most people (perhaps 50/50 among hifi nerds these days, but a clear majority among the general population) do their serious listening on headphones, having a good sounding headphone mix is more important than the speaker mix really, but going full headphone as opposed to todays full speaker focus, is not right either, as it will have similar issues, though not the bass one, as dead center bass-frequencies will work well in a room as well, as we can't tell direction of them anyway.

Being able to tag audio, could open up further possibilities for music, where the listener could mute certain instruments or the vocal track, to practice songs along with the original audio.
 

JonHolstein

Member
Apr 6, 2022
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0
20
As for experience surround sound that wasn't there. There are psycho acoustic phenomena's where you might experience something like that. Among my test tracks, I have a song from around the millennia, it is a dance track, and it has a Dolby Surround label on in. In certain playback scenarios though, through a stereo system with no dolby decoding capabilities, there is a part of the track that seemingly comes from behind you as listener. I have other tracks where the sound seems to come from all directions.
So it is possible to get a false surround experience through a stereo system, if the situation is just right.
That then also means that it is possible to create the experience of surround from a soundbar, but due to the limited set of situations where it would work well, and for the limited sweet-spot it would work for, it mostly doesn't work that well at all in actual home situations.

But I'm curious now that the technology of creating sound-beams actually are on its way to the market, I remember reading first about it in the 90s or early 00s. A soundbar would still be a bit limiting, but a limited numbers of actual boxes placed in a room, would be able to create pin-pointed sources of sound in many more locations, and we might actually see solutions where object data in the surround format could be used to create a moving sound-beam, to replace jumping between speakers.


If we are talking dying formats, I'm a bit sad to see 3D passed on. I mean with the VR glasses market growing, it would have been a perfect opportunity to offer good 3D experience finally. I mean soon we will be able to buy high framerate dual 4K OLED "HDR- experience" VR glasses, for a reasonable price, but with no actual film-media to take advantage of it, and no copyright protocol to handle distribution to several of VR glasses from a single source at the same time... what was sony and the rest thinking when they developed UHD bluray format, they should have been able to predict this, there were signs of it, back then, and if they had decided on specs for Download UHD expansion of the BluRay format, any limitations of disc space would not have been an issue, they could even made it so that the BluRay disc was the key to unlock playback of the downloaded version or extension of the format. Yes 3D TVs did not have any success back then and the projector market in relation to the higher end TV market was probably shrinking. But there were a lot of buzz surrounding VR and AR... even if the rollout has been slower than expected at the time (bluray support might have sped it up a bit though), they should have still realized that there would be a day when people would have the option of getting Dual 4K, high framerate screens in their VR/AR glasses and having a lot of material recorded by then, could open up for a real opportunity, I mean Sony witht their playstation would have had a golden opporunity to sell units even to people that weren't in to gaming if they would have allowed high framerate, dual 4K, 3D, for their users (they would not have been able to predict the shortage of components, so they would have been able to expect to sell boatloads of units, as the best bluray for people who would have wanted to watch 3D in full... and they would have probably launched two sets of glasses, the Pro version with dual 4K and all... I don't think their regular new Playstation VR glasses has quite that resolution, but movie fans would be willing to pay extra, if it could offer the experience of a large screen with 3D, hdr and hifh framerate).
 

Macropoxy

Member
Apr 7, 2022
1
0
20
I just wanted to chime in and say DTS:X is by far better. My thoughts is some of the reason Atmos is winning is because Atmos is most of the time just a marketing tool allowed to be slapped on pretty much anything, even with music and movies that have little-to-no object based data at all. When I see 'Atmos' I rarely associate that with guaranteed quality. When I see DTS:X... I expect it to be really good quality mix. I prefer their upmixer as well.

I agree with the lower bandwidth making sense to push Atmos. But this is further proof this Atmos offering is a lie to consumers saying you are getting the next generation development when really your getting the cheapest low effort mix you possibly could get.

I really hope you are wrong and we can get some services to stream the many movies that have DTS:X tracks available and perhaps more adoption will come as people start realizing it's often a better indicator of quality.
 

Jez Ford

Well-known member
Oct 1, 2020
5
1
525
Great article, was a great intro to non audiophiles to these various formats.

One thing I hate about the fact these companies don't pay for the DTS license, is that even if its use is getting more and more niche (bluray, or listening to blurays as remux files on plex, etc.), is that these soundbars or home theather products are sometimes high end. If I pay 2000 USD for a soundbar, you better pay the 10$ required to provide me the DTS:X format, even if I only use it once per year, because there is no way in my mind an expensive product like this shouldn't tick ALL the boxes.

This is why I'm happy with my Samsung Q950A and LG B9, both can still process dts:x
Many thanks for your kind words - yes, the Q950A is about as good as soundbars get; that's a Sound+Image award-winner! Nice kit pairing there; never be afraid to mix brands, even fierce competitors! And good point, the higher the kit, the more you need the codecs, as the better you can differentiate. B&W may not be supporting DTS on its soundbar, but the parent Sound United certainly continues to do so on its Denon/Marantz receivers etc. Jez
 

Jez Ford

Well-known member
Oct 1, 2020
5
1
525
As for experience surround sound that wasn't there. There are psycho acoustic phenomena's where you might experience something like that. Among my test tracks, I have a song from around the millennia, it is a dance track, and it has a Dolby Surround label on in. In certain playback scenarios though, through a stereo system with no dolby decoding capabilities, there is a part of the track that seemingly comes from behind you as listener. I have other tracks where the sound seems to come from all directions.
So it is possible to get a false surround experience through a stereo system, if the situation is just right.
That then also means that it is possible to create the experience of surround from a soundbar, but due to the limited set of situations where it would work well, and for the limited sweet-spot it would work for, it mostly doesn't work that well at all in actual home situations.

But I'm curious now that the technology of creating sound-beams actually are on its way to the market, I remember reading first about it in the 90s or early 00s. A soundbar would still be a bit limiting, but a limited numbers of actual boxes placed in a room, would be able to create pin-pointed sources of sound in many more locations, and we might actually see solutions where object data in the surround format could be used to create a moving sound-beam, to replace jumping between speakers.


If we are talking dying formats, I'm a bit sad to see 3D passed on....
Woah there, your reply is long than my article! Some great stuff in there. I was perhaps too dismissive of psychoacoustic surround; some of the side-firing soundbars etc can certainly push things very wide; Sennheiser's Ambeo is the prime example, but I had a fairly lowly Hisense bar in for review recently which managed the trick with certain sounds. I just meant it's no substitute for real surround speakers, and I dislike the fact that so many companies pretend it is.

Beam-forming - I must read up! Yamaha was king of the beamformers with its 22-driver bars a few years back, but I haven't seen what's coming. The question may then be how critical round boundaries are for bouncing them effectively. Alway something new to play with! Cheers, Jez
 

Jez Ford

Well-known member
Oct 1, 2020
5
1
525
I just wanted to chime in and say DTS:X is by far better. My thoughts is some of the reason Atmos is winning is because Atmos is most of the time just a marketing tool allowed to be slapped on pretty much anything, even with music and movies that have little-to-no object based data at all. When I see 'Atmos' I rarely associate that with guaranteed quality. When I see DTS:X... I expect it to be really good quality mix. I prefer their upmixer as well.

I agree with the lower bandwidth making sense to push Atmos. But this is further proof this Atmos offering is a lie to consumers saying you are getting the next generation development when really your getting the cheapest low effort mix you possibly could get.

I really hope you are wrong and we can get some services to stream the many movies that have DTS:X tracks available and perhaps more adoption will come as people start realizing it's often a better indicator of quality.
Cheers, and yes, this was by no means a pro-Dolby article; there's much love among both consumers and industry for the efforts of DTS in quality terms... it's just struggling on quantity in the streaming market at present. Thanks for posting. Cheers, Jez
 

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