What is DTS Virtual:X?

DTS Virtual:X is an audio codec designed to give sounds a sense of multi-dimensional space, or the feeling that sounds in an environment are moving around you. Used in movie theaters and home theater systems, DTS Virtual:X may sound complicated, but it's understandable in that it makes a few speakers sound like many speakers.

One thing that can be intimidating about the home theater experience is the number of surround sound formats. Unfortunately, what most surround sound formats have in common is that they require a lot of speakers.

However, as the popularity of soundbars and headphone listening grows, there's a growing need for a surround-sound experience without the need for additional speakers. DTS has taken on this task through the development and implementation of DTS Virtual:X.

DTS Virtual:X builds on the already established DTS:X and DTS Neural:X surround sound formats to extend the immersive listening experience without the need for additional speakers.

The make and model of home theater receiver, AV preamp/processor, or boxed home theater system you have determines the surround sound formats you can use.

Virtual:X analyzes incoming audio signals in real time and uses sophisticated algorithms to make its best guess at where specific sounds should be placed in a 3D listening space that may not have speakers. The sound space can include sounds from behind or overhead.

This process tricks the listener's ears into perceiving the presence of additional "phantom" or "virtual" speakers, even though there may only be two physical speakers present.

DTS Virtual:X can handle any incoming multi-channel audio signal, from two-channel stereo, 5.1/7.1-channel surround sound, to immersive 7.1.4-channel audio. Virtual:X uses upmixing (for stereo sound) and adds processing of other sound formats to create a sound field that contains height and vertical surround elements without the need for additional speakers, wall or ceiling reflections.

DTS Virtual: right) channel and possibly a subwoofer.

For home theater receivers, if you don't want to connect overhead or overhead speakers, DTS Virtual:X processing offers an alternative that you may be happy with. The surround soundstage is intact in a horizontal configuration, but Virtual:X extracts the top channels without the need for additional speakers.

Examples of soundbar and home theater receiver setups suitable for DTS Virtual:X include:

  • Soundbar or soundbar with subwoofer : DTS Virtual:X can create two phantom horizontal surrounds and up to four overhead channels.
  • Soundbar with physical surround speakers and subwoofer : DTS Virtual:X can create up to four phantom overhead channels to complement the soundbar system’s existing speakers.
  • Home theater receivers with traditional 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker setups : DTS Virtual:X can create up to four phantom overhead channels in addition to existing physical speakers. For example, DTS Virtual:X can add virtual sixth and seventh channels and two height channels to a 5.1-channel receiver, or up to four top channels to a 7.1-channel receiver.

Because today's TVs are so thin, there isn't enough space to accommodate a speaker system that provides a good surround-sound listening experience. That’s why it’s highly recommended that consumers choose to add at least one soundbar. You've already dug out your wallet for a big TV; you deserve good sound, too.

However, with DTS Virtual:X, the TV can deliver a more immersive listening experience without adding a soundbar.

Another possible configuration (although not currently implemented by DTS) is to incorporate DTS Virtual:X into a two-channel stereo receiver.

In this application, DTS Virtual:X can enhance a two-channel stereo analog audio source, adding two phantom surround channels and up to four phantom overhead channels.

If this feature were implemented, it would change the way we perceive traditional two-channel stereo receivers, providing greater flexibility for audio-only or audio/video listening setups.

DTS Virtual:X does not require extensive setup to use.

  • On soundbars and TVs, it's an on/off selection.
  • For home theater receivers, in the speaker setup menu, specify that you are not using physical surround back or height speakers, then you can select DTS Virtual:X.

The effect depends in part on the amount of amplifier power provided by the soundbar, TV, or home theater receiver. Soundbars and TVs are better suited for smaller rooms, while home theater receivers are better suited for medium or large rooms.

  • In terms of sound, Virtual X and Dolby Atmos can provide the same sound effects. However, Atmos requires more physical speakers, which may make it less attractive to those with smaller spaces.

  • DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Digital are not the same thing. Virtual:X is a system for simulating immersive 3D sound. Dolby Digital is an audio compression technology that powers many of the company's products.

For best results in a complete home theater environment, adding dedicated physical-height speakers (vertical-firing or ceiling-mounted) provides the most accurate, eye-catching results. However, DTS Virtual:X is a game changer in the crowded field of surround sound formats.

DTS Virtual:X is available for:

  • Soundbar : Choose from LG, Vizio, and Yamaha models.
  • Home theater (AV) receivers : Choose from Denon, Marantz, Onkyo and Pioneer models.
  • TV : Choose LG's UK model.