DTS Surround Sound

I would like to explain the different formats of Surround Sound for your Home Theater or Media Room. Because back in the day, surround sound was a little simpler to understand and there was not many variations of it.

For me, it started in a very quiet electronics store in Brick Town, NJ. It was 1997… and then…


The launch of DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) and Home Theater Receivers with separate stand-alone processors for encoding Dolby Digital and DTS.


Now, I know some people may think that Laserdisc was the firsts and to a point, they are correct. However, Laserdisc used digital sound that was used for the analog audio track. On the other hand, in 1995, Clear and Present Danger was the first Dolby Digital or AC-3 movie released in Dolby Digital on Laserdisc. Additionally, these Laserdisc players would need a special “AC-3 RF” output and an external demodulator in addition to an AC-3 decoder. But, I digress. 

The first time that I was introduced to DTS (Digital Theater Systems) was researching it from a setting on my Pioneer DV-414. When going into the setting for DIG. OUTPUT, I noticed in line 4, DTS. And that had to be turned on manually.

But, what was this DTS? I needed to find out. Moreover, would this work on the Onkyo TX-DS676?

Yes it would! It had that nice DTS Digital Surround logo right in the front!

Lets get back to, “What DTS is…”

DTS is the competitor to Dolby Digital and though both give multi-channel sound, what was the difference?

DTS encoded at a higher bit rate, which considered by some, was better quality. Including myself. I have jumped onto the DTS train and anytime I purchased a DVD movie, I made sure it had the DTS logo on it. My first movies in DTS that I had was The Bone Collector then followed up with U-571! Both great movies!


However, the first movie recorded in DTS was Jurassic Park.

Click Here for Dolby Surround Sound and the different… flavors of them. (High Level)


  • DTS Digital Surround

    • DTS Digital Surround
      • Like Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS gave a discreet 5.1 channel of separation for the home theater or media room experience. However, DTS is less compressed and supports higher bit rates. Dolby Digital was up to 448 kbits/s as where DTS was up to 768 kbits/s.

  • DTS 7.1

    • DTS-ES Matrix
      • Provides 5.1 discrete channels, with a matrixed center-surround audio channel. Located at the center back position, this additional rear surround channel complements the left and right surround channels of DTS Digital Surround audio to produce an intensified degree of realism, further immersing movie viewers in the on-screen action.
        • DVD Discs
        • Matrixed from Surround Left and Right
        • You can use (1) Surround Back or (2) Surround Back Speakers for this.


    • DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete
      • Provides 6.1 discrete channels, with a discretely recorded (non-matrixed) center-surround channel; in home theater systems with a 7.1 configuration, the two rear-center speakers play in mono.
        • DVD Discs
        • Discreet Surround Back
        • You can use (1) Surround Back or (2) Surround Back Speakers for this.


    • DTS-HD
      • Like 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.
        • Blu-ray Discs
        • Discrete Channels Up to 7.1


    • DTS-HD Master Audio
      • DTS-HD Master Audio is a combined lossy/lossless audio codec, which enables bit for bit identical playback to the master track. This means that what you hear is bit-for-bit identical to the master recording. On devices which do not support high resolution, a lossy rendition of the track is utilized.
      • Lossless: Lossless audio is the unmodified output of the recording process.
      • Lossy: Lossy discards as much ‘irrelevant’ data as possible from the original audio, thereby producing a file much smaller than the original that sounds almost identical.
        • Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Discs
        • Discrete Channels Up to 7.1 (With Support Up to 11.2 Channels) and DTS:X
        • Lossless Audio

  • DTS:X

    • DTS:X
      • DTS:X is an object-based surround sound technology that expands on conventional surround sound systems. Unlike Dolby Atmos, DTS:X has no requirements for additional height channels, or requirements for a specific number of speakers in any configuration. Instead, your DTS:X-enabled receiver does all the heavy lifting via its auto-calibration and object-based processor to deliver multi-dimensional sound to the output channel it decides is best. DTS:X also allows users to adjust the volume of voices. This is a handy feature for dialogue-heavy scenes, since they tend to be difficult to hear clearly in many movies.


Because DTS:X doesn’t require any specific speaker layout, you can arrange your home theater system however you want. From a 5.1 Channel System all the way to an 11.2 Channel System.


However, I am the type of person that looks for recommended speaker placement and in what degree to place the speakers within the locations for optimal performance.

Yamaha has released a document that shows a 7.2 Channel system with an option of the Height Channels, Front/Rear Height, Overhead (Overhead like Dolby Atmos).

Additionally Denon has a nice recommended guide to follow in regards to speaker placement. You can see within this document, the degree of the height speakers (no matter where you place them) recommendations. However, as stated in this document, “DTS:X can be selected regardless of the speaker configuration.”

Putting this information together with the traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround configurations should be a good place to start when configuring a DTS:X Home Theater or Media Room.