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DTS has made it clear their diagrams were never supposed to represent absolutes in rendering as the DTS marketing has always been that DTS is meant to be layout agnostic. Given offscreen effects no longer have a visual point of reference, I see no logic fallacy with that position. It makes absolutely no difference in imaging beyond the starting location of the overhead image (which should be placed relative to the screen as off-screen events are still tied to the action on the screen, not some magic number). Anyone who has actually listened to DTS:X movies like the Harry Potter series using Dolby placed "height speakers" knows the action coming off the screen into the room works fine either way. If anything, a broom flying out of the screen past the camera should move smoothly from the screen overhead into the room, not 1/4 the way into the room (which is where 45 degrees typically starts the overheads and that applies to Atmos with Top Fronts as well and the reason "Heights" exist in Atmos in the first place).

I find it amazing that people can largely dismiss the Center Height speaker from the DTS:X layout as not being all that important compared to the regular center channel while simultaneously harping on and on about how DTS:X "height" speakers should be at exactly 45 degrees or else it's apparently no good. People go out of their way to change the speaker assignments when Atmos actually renders exactly the same in a system that doesn't support both heights and tops (i.e. non-Trinnov) as Dolby always folds overheads into the nearest overheads regardless of their assigned position. As such, only DTS behaves differently for all other processors and it should be set to "heights" if you don't want Neural X activating bed speakers (and it's also needed to use Auro-3D on processors that support it so it's the obvious choice for a triple layout regardless of the physical speaker location (Tops and Height overlap at 45 degrees in Dolby's own guidelines even so clearly they're not that worried about whether your heights are on the front wall above the screen or 1/4 the way out into the room on the ceiling (typical room based layout for 45 degree positioning with 90 in the center of the room) and Dolby is supposedly the more accurate rendering system. If they don't care enough to separate them in the guidelines, how much more so for DTS that claims to be layout agnostic? People are taking too much out of a diagram, IMO.

Personally, I think people should be designing their speaker layouts around their screen and seating positions and the dimensions of the room (30-ish typically being above the screen, 45 @ 1/4, 90 @ 1/2, 135 @ 3/4 and 150-ish @ rear wall), not unchangeable fixed starting angles for overhead speakers, which is precisely why Dolby provided a range of numbers in their guidelines, not absolutes. Most of their layouts are based around a single row of seats and the overheads moved relative to the couch, rather than the room, but once you go beyond one row, it almost has to be room based, not MLP based to make it work correctly every time. After all, real movie theaters have seats continuously throughout the theater, not just one seating location (MLP). Any home theater emulating a smaller version of a real theater should do the same in scale. Angle placement of the various speaker locations should be relative to each other as well, but a little offset only moves the image slightly in any given direction (precedence). It's small, but predictable result.

Meanwhile, Xperi made it clear DTS has no absolutes for playback, just a reference diagram for the studio layout. You're free to match it closely or loosely as you will. Given most people's screen and room size won't match their recording studio layout, it won't sound identical regardless. But having a center height speaker will lock the location for off-axis listeners relative to a given room regardless of its starting position. That is far more important, IMO than the speaker's absolute mounted elevation angle. Of course, if you just have to have it match the diagram precisely for peace of mind that you're hearing as close as you can to the studio mix, you're free to do so. But there's always the real possibility, it was mixed in an Atmos layout recording environment and simply more or less 'rendered' out to DTS:X (fine tuned or not), not separately mixed with an actual DTS:X speaker layout. How would you know? They don't mark it on the box. The few soundtracks I've heard with both Atmos and DTS:X formats available have sounded identical to me in image placment.

As to whether the IMAX Enhanced tracks would put the center height imaging at some phantom location, that's purely a mixing decision. Neural X will render it relative to the speaker locations either way (i.e. if it pans between the two front heights, it will go in a straight line to the center height speaker. If it's mixed lower, it will phantom image with the bed speakers regardless of whether the center height speaker is placed at the same angle or not. Only the internal panning matters. Neural X simply steers it through the hard speaker fully or partially either way.


There is no "guessing" with steered logic in DTS:X Pro either. Steered locations are ALWAYS at 50% intervals (centered). That means sitting at the MLP, the phantom imaging and hard imaging will be identical to each other. Whether it's DTS:X Pro or "Scatmos" or a true rendered Atmos soundtrack, the general location of the sound objects will always be in the same relative locations with the same master mix from the MLP. The only thing that changes is the precision if the imaging (picture a straighter line to its destination versus a more precise curve if the object is moving in an arc; if it's a straight line, there will likely be no real difference at all). In most cases, the difference would be negligible to the human ear, which is why the Atmos Vs. DTS:X Pro arguments are overblown (not to mention with no visual reference, it's hard to say exactly where the sound should be in the room to begin with just by ear).

On most consumer systems (7.1.4 or less) using an Atmos speaker layout and the height setting in the processor, there is literally no difference I can hear between Atmos and DTS:X renderings of the same soundtrack (easily tested with overlapped titles like Jurassic Park Fallen Kingdom and Angry Birds 2 that have both Atmos and DTS:X versions available). How they compare with a Trinnov system using more or even all available speakers (Atmos vs DTS:X versions of the same title) is something on which a Trinnov owner would need to comment. Somehow, I doubt it's worth writing home about the differences ("different" doesn't mean better or worse all by itself).
 

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The DTS:X CH speaker is at 45 degrees elevation while the IMAX Enhanced CH object (channel 12) is encoded at 25 degrees elevation, so it will still have to be reproduced as a phantom image floating between the CH and C speakers (but that's
better than using FH and C speakers).
Thanks, I was basing that on the slide Sound United showed in the presentation a few days ago. Although, I suppose, taking a loose "marketing guy" view this is not necessarily contradictory with what you stated since it doesn't say "Ch object signal is output from ONLY the Ch speaker". And what the slide is really trying to communicate is that the Neural:X parameter will "spread" the sound to all speakers.



Although I do find it sort of disappointing that they show a (needlessly) horizontal center speaker for CH, perpetuating the idea that "centers are supposed to be horizontal". :(


Just to give some idea of how long these things take to implement. Licensees were informed about DSU supporting Wides back in June of 2018 and confirmed a few months later at CEDIA in September 2018. And here we are 2 years later (and the upgrade is still 6 months away).
Crazy!
 

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I think the center height I'm referring to is the setting for IMAX enchanced.
The IMAX immersive audio format is 12 channels (no .1 / LFE channel) played back over 12 speakers. 7 base layer speakers, 4 overhead speakers, and one Upper Centre speaker right inside the top of the screen (directly above the Centre speaker).



IMAX encodes their 12-channel soundtracks using the DTS:X format for release on home video as part of the IMAX Enhanced program. The 7 base layer channels and 4 overhead channels are encoded like a typical DTS:X 7.1.4 soundtrack. The Upper Centre channel is encoded as an audio object, because it is not at any of the DTS:X speaker locations. The Upper Centre object is encoded at 25 degrees elevation while the DTS:X Centre Height speaker is at 45 degrees elevation. So the Upper Centre object is reproduced as a phantom image floating above your Centre speaker (hopefully near the top of your screen, like in an IMAX theatre).
Thanks for the info regarding DTS X, so basically the DTS X discs are automatically rendered to fit a system that has up to 32 speakers it seems kind of like *real* atmos BD's it seems?
The home DTS:X format was designed to natively scale to all 30 speaker locations, using a combination of discrete channels, matrix upmixing and object rendering. Channels are scaled up using a standard 2-in, 3-out (centre extraction) matrix. You can tell that DTS:X was intended to work this way because almost every speaker in their layout is exactly in between adjacent speakers, so you can keep extracting centre outputs from every pair of channels until all speakers are making noise.
 

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No, that's just theoretical if DTS:X actually used objects instead of the 7.1.4 channel mapping it actually uses. They introduced DTS:X Pro to get around the limitation of the source tracks by allowing logic steering to the other locations. It's simulated though, the decoder is guessing where the sounds should go.

The majority of Dolby Atmos releases are all true 24.1.10 capable.
Hmmm was Phil Jones being upfront about this then? He seemed to indicate that DTS X was object based like Atmos (I think this was on Audioholics or Spare Change). But I do remember when DTS X was first introduced if I recall it was marketed as being channel based. Is it possible for DTS X to go object based going forwards>
 

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Thanks, I was basing that on the slide Sound United showed in the presentation a few days ago. Although, I suppose, taking a loose "marketing guy" view this is not necessarily contradictory with what you stated since it doesn't say "Ch object signal is output from ONLY the Ch speaker". And what the slide is really trying to communicate is that the Neural:X parameter will "spread" the sound to all speakers.

Although I do find it sort of disappointing that they show a (needlessly) horizontal center speaker for CH, perpetuating the idea that "centers are supposed to be horizontal". :(

Crazy!
The IMAX immersive audio format is 12 channels (no .1 / LFE channel) played back over 12 speakers. 7 base layer speakers, 4 overhead speakers, and one Upper Centre speaker right inside the top of the screen (directly above the Centre speaker).


IMAX encodes their 12-channel soundtracks using the DTS:X format for release on home video as part of the IMAX Enhanced program. The 7 base layer channels and 4 overhead channels are encoded like a typical DTS:X 7.1.4 soundtrack. The Upper Centre channel is encoded as an audio object, because it is not at any of the DTS:X speaker locations. The Upper Centre object is encoded at 25 degrees elevation while the DTS:X Centre Height speaker is at 45 degrees elevation. So the Upper Centre object is reproduced as a phantom image floating above your Centre speaker (hopefully near the top of your screen, like in an IMAX theatre). The home DTS:X format was designed to natively scale to all 30 speaker locations, using a combination of discrete channels, matrix upmixing and object rendering. Channels are scaled up using a standard 2-in, 3-out (centre extraction) matrix. You can tell that DTS:X was intended to work this way because almost every speaker in their layout is exactly in between adjacent speakers, so you can keep extracting centre outputs from every pair of channels until all speakers are making noise.
Thank you, that was exactly what I was referring in regards to that center height above the center channel.

So do you guys think it might be worth while to look into installing an extra center channel above the screen if I end up going with the X8500? My plan I think would be to upgrade from 7.1.4 to 9.1.4 on the Denon 6700, but it seems like the X8500 will allow for multiple layouts. If I recall it has 15 inputs, so maybe I could have both front wides for Atmos, then switch to the extra center + VOG for IMAX enhanced.

Though IMAX enchanced looks light on content for the time being, perhaps I might hold off on that until the next upgrade, and maybe save a few pennies by going X6700 for the time being.
 

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Is it possible for DTS X to go object based going forwards>
Been doing that since the beginning. There are 18 DTS:X titles on Blu-ray, albeit from one studio (Well Go USA), that contain objects. Old Yamaha receivers used to be able to display the exact number of objects.

 

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The IMAX immersive audio format is 12 channels (no .1 / LFE channel) played back over 12 speakers. 7 base layer speakers, 4 overhead speakers, and one Upper Centre speaker right inside the top of the screen (directly above the Centre speaker).



IMAX encodes their 12-channel soundtracks using the DTS:X format for release on home video as part of the IMAX Enhanced program. The 7 base layer channels and 4 overhead channels are encoded like a typical DTS:X 7.1.4 soundtrack. The Upper Centre channel is encoded as an audio object, because it is not at any of the DTS:X speaker locations. The Upper Centre object is encoded at 25 degrees elevation while the DTS:X Centre Height speaker is at 45 degrees elevation. So the Upper Centre object is reproduced as a phantom image floating above your Centre speaker (hopefully near the top of your screen, like in an IMAX theatre). The home DTS:X format was designed to natively scale to all 30 speaker locations, using a combination of discrete channels, matrix upmixing and object rendering. Channels are scaled up using a standard 2-in, 3-out (centre extraction) matrix. You can tell that DTS:X was intended to work this way because almost every speaker in their layout is exactly in between adjacent speakers, so you can keep extracting centre outputs from every pair of channels until all speakers are making noise.
Hi Sanjay - Do you know which speakers in a 7.2.6 setup with FH, TM, RH height channels are used to render this Upper Centre object? Do you know which speakers in a 7.2.4 setup with TF and TR height channels would do it? Since this location is rendered as an object I guess it is safe to say that we will now see more use of objects in IMAX Enhanced mixes than we have seen so far in regular DTSX mixes. I wonder if that is already the case with the few IMAX Enhanced mixes we already have.
 

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Do you know which speakers in a 7.2.6 setup with FH, TM, RH height channels are used to render this Upper Centre object? Do you know which speakers in a 7.2.4 setup with TF and TR height channels would do it?
The object is encoded to image roughly mid way between the Centre speaker and the DTS:X Front Heights (which are the same as Atmos Top Fronts). If your set-up includes a Centre Height speaker, then the object will image roughly mid way between the Centre speaker and Centre Height speaker.
Since this location is rendered as an object I guess it is safe to say that we will now see more use of objects in IMAX Enhanced mixes than we have seen so far in regular DTSX mixes.
IMAX immersive soundtracks are 12 channels. Since DTS:X soundtracks are already 11 channels (plus LFE), only one object is needed to encoded the 12th IMAX channel. No need for any more channels or objects for IMAX Enhanced soundtracks.
 

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Hmmm was Phil Jones being upfront about this then? He seemed to indicate that DTS X was object based like Atmos (I think this was on Audioholics or Spare Change). But I do remember when DTS X was first introduced if I recall it was marketed as being channel based. Is it possible for DTS X to go object based going forwards>
As Sanjay pointed out, it is indeed channel & object based - but only a handful of titles use it.

DTS themselves, at least in the past, have recommended keeping it locked to 7.1.4 - possibly with DTS:X Pro they'll be more aggressive with it.
But I haven't seen any Universal or Sony titles with objects.
 

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As Sanjay pointed out, it is indeed channel & object based - but only a handful of titles use it.

DTS themselves, at least in the past, have recommended keeping it locked to 7.1.4 - possibly with DTS:X Pro they'll be more aggressive with it.
But I haven't seen any Universal or Sony titles with objects.

Even if DTS/Xperi starts adding up to 5 objects again to go along with the 7.1.4 base configuration, FilmMixer has at least said in the past that due to limitations with the DTS: X consumer format, it is much easier and faster for an engineer to work with a soundtrack using multiple objects in the Dolby Atmos format.



Now, if DTS: X stuck to channel-based tracks (up to 16 if the objects are all fixed in position), then it wouldn't be scalable (except with matrix steering logic) like a properly encoded and rendered Dolby Atmos track, but it would probably be easier to work with within these limited parameters.
 

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Hmmm was Phil Jones being upfront about this then? He seemed to indicate that DTS X was object based like Atmos (I think this was on Audioholics or Spare Change).
Phil was not TECHNICALLY wrong since DTS:X can use objects, as others have noted. However, it was a little bit of his trademark enthusiasm with a little bit of hand waving on the technical side. It's well established that nearly all DTS:X tracks are encoded as 7.1.4 channels, with zero objects used. So Phil's statements about how "you don't have to upgrade the content because objects!" is quite, well, optimistic.


But I do remember when DTS X was first introduced if I recall it was marketed as being channel based.
You need to pass me some of that good stuff my friend because DTS:X was ALWAYS marketed as objects! objects! objects! so many objects!

The fact that actual content was being encoded as 7.1.4 channels was something tech savvy consumers sniffed out for themselves on forums like this.

DTS also slow-played the 11 channel limit; they not only bragged about all the objects, they also waxed poetic about how they could scale to any speaker layout. Then it was discovered that the system was capped at 11 channels of output, and it took them FIVE years to release "Pro" which (as Sanjay has noted) is literally just unlocking the full potential they bragged about in 2015.

And, to reiterate, this doesn't imply anything about the way CONTENT is encoded. The 7.1.4 mixes will likely continue and DTS:X will output to any speaker in your layout using Neural:X upmixing.


Just to remind you, I dug up this 2015 DTS press release, here's a choice quote to make my point about how they were selling it in 2015:

Until recently, sound in movie theaters and in our homes has been dictated by a standardized speaker layout. Through the use of object-based audio, DTS:X is able to scale immersive soundtrack presentations across a wide range of playback systems, from efficient to extravagant, while staying true to the content creator's vision. This approach delivers the most authentic three-dimensional audio experience ever, making the audience feel as if they are in the center of the action."

With flexible speaker layouts and remapping technology, DTS:X allows the placement of home theater speakers virtually anywhere. The freedom of object-based audio enables optimized playback on a multitude of speaker layouts, with any number of speakers. The DTS speaker remapping engine supports any speaker configuration within a hemispherical layout based around the listening position in the room.
 

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FilmMixer has at least said in the past that due to limitations with the DTS: X consumer format, it is much easier and faster for an engineer to work with a soundtrack using multiple objects in the Dolby Atmos format.
And easier & faster = cheaper.
The reason DTS-MA dominated Blu-ray over Dolby TrueHD. Initially much easier and faster to encode, even though technically TrueHD is a more efficient codec (even the Atmos tracks often take less bandwidth and disc space than their 5.1 DTS-MA versions seen on WB discs) and takes much less DSP horsepower to decode.
 

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The object is encoded to image roughly mid way between the Centre speaker and the DTS:X Front Heights (which are the same as Atmos Top Fronts). If your set-up includes a Centre Height speaker, then the object will image roughly mid way between the Centre speaker and Centre Height speaker. IMAX immersive soundtracks are 12 channels. Since DTS:X soundtracks are already 11 channels (plus LFE), only one object is needed to encoded the 12th IMAX channel. No need for any more channels or objects for IMAX Enhanced soundtracks.
So the best layout for IMAX Enhanced performance would be with the common 7.1.4 layout + a Centre Height speaker? Given the lack of content we have seen I don't see myself doing that. While it is awesome that the new Denon's included 2 separate speaker presets, it seems that they should have included 4 for the best layouts for Atmos, DTSX, IMAX and Auro.
 

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So the best layout for IMAX Enhanced performance would be with the common 7.1.4 layout + a Centre Height speaker? Given the lack of content we have seen I don't see myself doing that.
Not worth it solely for IMAX Enhanced, but DTS:X and Auro3D can both use a Centre Height speaker.
 

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Phil was not TECHNICALLY wrong since DTS:X can use objects, as others have noted. However, it was a little bit of his trademark enthusiasm with a little bit of hand waving on the technical side. It's well established that nearly all DTS:X tracks are encoded as 7.1.4 channels, with zero objects used. So Phil's statements about how "you don't have to upgrade the content because objects!" is quite, well, optimistic.
Will they not be more "expandable" than some of the locked Atmos tracks though? With the way the Neural:X upmixer works, extracting every sound--out of channels, even if there are no objects--for an "in-between" location and putting it in a speaker when one is available, I would tend to think the end result should still be quite good regardless of a track being "pre-rendered" into 7.1.4.



It has been well documented how many 7.1.4 Atmos "prints" will leave the middle heights (when one has a .6 top layout) and wides mostly silent. I don't see this happening with DTS:X Pro. So while Phil may have been technically wrong about how it's happening (with a "pre-rendered" 7.1.4 track), he might be right about the end result.
 

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Will they not be more "expandable" than some of the locked Atmos tracks though? With the way the Neural:X upmixer works, extracting every sound--out of channels, even if there are no objects--for an "in-between" location and putting it in a speaker when one is available, I would tend to think the end result should still be quite good regardless of a track being "pre-rendered" into 7.1.4.



It has been well documented how many 7.1.4 Atmos "prints" will leave the middle heights (when one has a .6 top layout) and wides mostly silent. I don't see this happening with DTS:X Pro. So while Phil may have been technically wrong about how it's happening (with a "pre-rendered" 7.1.4 track), he might be right about the end result.

Having heard a DTS: X Pro presentation at the Trinnov/Triad booth at CEDIA, I will say that, to me, the 3D sound scape is "fuzzier" and less distinct than a really good Dolby Atmos track. Easier to compare too because the same movie clips have been making the rounds at trade shows in Dolby Atmos as well.



Matrix steering is just not as good as discrete audio.



One can only hope that Dolby Labs has a sit down with the post houses on proper practices for mixing and encoding Atmos tracks, so we get fewer and fewer "screwy" Atmos encodes.
 

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Matrix steering is just not as good as discrete audio.
It's better than no audio. In the real world, DTS:X playback on high speaker count systems is a choice between matrix derived audio and no audio (silent speakers). It's not a choice between matrix steering and discrete audio. Centre extraction is rock solid at this point, certainly compared to the hesitation and pumping of old matrix surround processing. With 11 or more speakers producing sound, listeners won't be able to tell matrix from discrete.
 

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It's better than no audio. In the real world, DTS:X playback on high speaker count systems is a choice between matrix derived audio and no audio (silent speakers). It's not a choice between matrix steering and discrete audio. Centre extraction is rock solid at this point, certainly compared to the hesitation and pumping of old matrix surround processing. With 11 or more speakers producing sound, listeners won't be able to tell matrix from discrete.

Some listeners won't be able to tell, but as I mentioned above, the DTS: X tracks presented by DTS using DTS: X Pro via the Trinnov did not have placement as solid as the Dolby Atmos versions of those same movies. I've heard them before at other booths and other venues. If anything the DTS: X Pro versions seemed less distinct and "mushier" in their immersive sound placement. Steve Colburn, formally of Triad, chatted with me outside the booth and seemed to agree with my general assessment of the situation, and he's been involved with Dolby on their home Atmos project for a lot longer than any of us.
 
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