Dolby Atmos for Headphones vs DTS Headphone:X
So what I understood is that Dolby Atmos for Headphones can work with any pair of headphones once you paid $15 on Windows 10 and Xbox One. Works with any game, will upmix the audio to virtual Dolby Atmos.
What I dont understand is how exactly DTS Headphone:X compares to the Dolby solution. They say it works with any pair of headphones too but they dont provide a software only solution or do they? I only find products like headsets and mobile devices which have DTS Headphone:X implemented but not in a standalone variant like Dolby Atmos for Headphones. And I read that the content needs to be DTS Headphone:X enabled. Will it not work with non-DTS:X content?
From my experience, Atmos for Headphones applies itself to all audio output from the computer. I've only found DTS Headphone:X as an option within a program (a game). In that game, DTS Headphone:X works much better (less alteration to the sounds, more immersive positioning) than Atmos for Headphones, and either option works better than both running concurrently. However, the game is designed to use the DTS technology specifically, so it stands to reason that it will work better.
Atmos for Headphones is definitely a game changer in other instances. Movies in 5.1 or 7.1 sound eerily immersive. I remember watching Daredevil on Netflix right after Atmos for Headphones came out, using my in-ear headphones and pausing the show to peek out the window because I forgot about the spatialization software, heard sirens over my shoulder and thought they were real.
Now I read that if you have a headset with DTS Headphone:X and play any game which has 5.1 / 7.1 as an in-game option, it will also work. But will it work just as other software solutions like from Razer etc which only use 7.1 and not simulate object based audio like Dolby Atmos for Headphones?
On the DTS Headphone:X homepage it says "DTS HEADPHONE:X / SURROUND SOUND TO GO" and "DTS Headphone:X makes all this possible with an incredible technology that simulates the 3D environment of the audio’s original mixing stage". So I guess this is a DTS:X and 7.1 solution. DTS:X will only work if the content is in encoded in that format, if not it will use 7.1 or 5.1 surround sound and give you virtual 7.1 / 5.1 surround sound as an output, not upmixed virtual DTS:X like with Dolby Atmos for Headphones.
I havent tried neither, I am just curious. First I thought DTS Headphone:X is the counterpart to Dolby Atmos for Headphones. So to keep this simple:
+ better sound than Dolby Atmos for Headphones
- content needs to be made for DTS Headphone:X / DTS:X, if not it will use 7.1 or 5.1 surround sound
- "works with any pair of headphones" but doesnt really. You need to buy a headset / headphones with DTS Headphone:X technology
Dolby Atmos for Headphones
+ 100% works with any pair of headphones since it is a software only solution
+ will upmix 7.1 / 5.1 to virtual Dolby Atmos
- since it works with any sound and upmix it, it probably cant keep up to native DTS Headphone:X content
Wait... it looks like Dolby Atmos for Headphones will not upmix surround sound to virtual Dolby Atmos sound. It seems like it is just like DTS Headphone:X in this regard, it will only use Dolby Atmos if the content is in Atmos format and if not, it will use 7.1 or 5.1 and give you a virtual 7.1 / 5.1 as the output. Not upmixed to virtual Dolby Atmos. This is so confusing, why cant they just tell you what their formats do properly without the marketing stuff and mislead us.
Since I cant edit my posts somehow (I am new to this forum), it looks like DTS Headphone:X has no advantage since Dolby Atmos for Headphones will also use Dolby Atmos content, so it is content-related. And Dolby Atmos does not upmix 7.1 / 5.1 to virtual Dolby Atmos.
Looks like Dolby Atmos for Headphones is the solution for everyone while DTS Headphone:X is specific to some devices.
I still don’t understand how stereo headphones can be capable of native surround. I thought all headphone surround formats are virtual of some sort? For instance, my PS4 can output DD 5.1 from its optical port. My Turtle Beach TAC can take that DD 5.1 and layer DTS Headphone: X processing over it. Cool. But then headphones are stereo, so how does that work?
I also own a Creative Sound Blaster G5 (USB sound card) which I sometimes use with my PS4. It is only capable of stereo sound on PS4, but then you can use Creative’s SBX processing on top of that to achieve a simulated surround effect. Surprisingly, it’s not as terrible as it sounds.
Just comparing those two, one that advertises native surround and one that is only stereo, I find with the same pair of headphones there’s not much difference in the perceivable surround effect.
It works the same way your ears do - after all, why have 100 speaker arrays when you only have 2 ears?
It's only possible with headphones because we can control what sound each ear hears without worrying about crosstalk. It's much harder (or impossible) to use a set of stereo speakers to simulate a full surround array. (Surround sound bars use a pile of drivers aimed and processed to help simulate the effect by noticing the sound off walls, but we're talking about bars with 20 or more drivers).
You can simulate this if you have a set of earphones with a microphone built in and record the audio hitting the ear. This will capture he sounds and the subtle variations needed to convey location. Unfortunately, this in general only works for the person who recorded it.
Surround headphones are either algorithmic (called head related transfer function or HRTF) or captured signals. Algorithmic solutions include Dolby headphone and DTS headphones. Here your multichannel sound is input into the box, which then applies the calculations to it to generate a stereo mix that would be what a virtual head would've heard and then piped to your headphones. Captured signals use a correlation function with measured impulse responses to generate the effect (the impulse response captures the effect the environment has to affect the sound to the listening position so it can also be used to replicate say, Carnegie Hall.)
Dolby Atmos for Headphones vs DTS Headphone:X
upmixer. You can use it to play files stored on your device, on a DNLA server, or to browse for online content, and it allows you to use any old pair of ordinary stereo headphones to play this content, or a USB DAC if you prefer.
I really like the DTS:X Headphone effect, especially on the (relatively few) samples posted on YouTube with native DTS:X Headphobes audio tracks. For example, the DTS:X Headphones - encoded trailer for the “Batman: Arkham Knight” game sounds fully immersive to my ears. And I love what the upmixer does to Muse’s “Under Pressure w/ the UCLA Marching Band, posted to YouTube. Though the recording itself isn’t studio quality, I still am given the sense that the band is stretched out in front of me.
For anyone who is interested in experimenting with this format, I highly recommend it!
According to the nPlayer documentation, the paid version of the app, nPlayer Plus, has got a Dolby Atmos Headphones decoder as well. I haven’t tried it [yet], so I can’t speak to how it sounds.
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