Although DTS initially said that they would officially launch their new object-based immersive audio format DTS: X in March 2015, it would seem that we will have to wait a bit longer.The company will actually launch DTS: X with an event held at their Californian head office on the 9th of April. Details of the new format have been a tightly kept secret and even at the demo we attended at CES, the company wouldn't provide any information regarding DTS: X. Aside from the fact the the immersive format would be object-based, much like rival format Dolby Atmos, and had previously been called MDA (Multi-Dimensional Audio) and UHDA (Ultra High Definition Audio) nothing else is known - not even the speaker layout. The demo at CES used a circular room and was clearly not meant to represent any kind of real world implementation; more of a tease for us and an attempt to distract attention from Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D.
Hopefully the event will not only provide details of exactly how the format works and what kind of speaker configuration it uses but also give an indication of whether any upgrade path will be available for existing receiver owners. So far only Trinnov and Steinway-Lyngdorf have announced support for the new format on their high-end processors but we can expect to see similar announcements from the likes of Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, Integra, Onkyo, Outlaw Audio, Krell, Theta Digital, McIntosh, Yamaha and Anthem. As far as studio support is concerned that is also a mystery but given that DTS-HD Master Audio is used on the majority of Blu-rays, the company should be in a strong position. The demo disc we received at CES includes DTS: X clips from Divergent (Lionsgate) and Rio 2 (Twentieth Century Fox), so that might be a clue.
The fact that the DTS: X soundtracks on the demo Blu-ray play on legacy equipment would suggest that, like Dolby Atmos, the new format will be delivered as part of the existing DTS-HD Master Audio codec. We will certainly be glad when DTS finally stop stalling an actually make a firm announcement because the prospect of three new but incompatible immersive audio formats does not bode well for mass consumer acceptance. A format war never ends well and is always expensive for AV enthusiasts and early adopters, so let's hope it's over quickly. Presumably whichever format has the most hardware and studio support will triumph but either way we'll know more on the 9th of April.
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