Object-based surround sound — also known as 3D surround sound — is a fantastic addition to the home theater experience, allowing sound to come from above or below you, instead of just to your left or right or in front of or behind you. The problem is actually getting all of this set up, as additional speakers are required for that extra dimension. At least, that used to be the case. Now, another solution has arrived in the form of DTS Virtual:X.
DTS announced on Monday that it had partnered with Sound United, parent company of Denon and Marantz, to bring DTS Virtual:X to select receivers sold under those two brands. This technology, which we’ve already seen employed in soundbars, uses audio processing software to reproduce the sound of many speakers using only a few.
“DTS Virtual:X technology provides consumers an immersive sound experience even if they only attach stereo, 5.1 or 7.1 speakers to their A/V receivers,” Joanna Skrdlant, general manager of home audio for DTS parent company Xperi, said in a statement. “Our partnership with these legendary brands reinforces our continued commitment to deliver consumers premium sound in the comfort of their home.”
While this may seem like a feature that makes more sense in soundbars than A/V receivers — which are meant to be used with multiple speakers, after all — DTS says that its research shows otherwise. In the announcement of the new partnership, the company says that fewer than 30 percent of those who buy A/V receivers connect their height speakers, and less than 48 percent connect the surround speakers. For these customers, DTS Virtual:X offers a better experience out of the box, at least once the receiver is updated to the latest firmware.
DTS Virtual:X supports input sources from plain old stereo all the way up to 7.1.4-channel setups. Speaker layouts ranging from stereo to 5.1-channel and even 7.1-channel are supported.
For now, this upgrade is available for the AVR-S730H, AVR-S930H, AVR-X1400H, AVR-X2400H, and AVR-X3400H receivers from Denon, and the NR1608 and SR5012 receivers from Marantz. Support for more Denon DTS:X receivers is planned for January 2018, while additional Marantz DTS:X models are expected to receive support in February 2018.
In the meantime, if you’d like to get a better idea of what the multiple terms surrounding the world of surround sound mean, see our guide to different surround sound formats.