The most important multi-channel sound technologies worldwide are the well-known DTS and Dolby. First came DTS and Dolby Digital in terms of 5.1 sound technologies, followed by DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD that added 7.1 sound and were only losslessly supported with HDMI wiring. The latest iterations of both companies are DTS: X and Dolby Atmos.
DTS: X has taken longer to hit the market, having started to be available for the first time this summer, while Dolby Atmos has been on the market for some time. Both technologies create virtual environments capable of mixing sounds vertically and horizontally, which improves the positioning of sounds in a 3D space in environments such as video games or movies.
Dolby Atmos to hit PC and Xbox One next year
Dolby Atmos basically creates a 3D 360º sound experience thanks to its system that organizes each sound individually, divided into ‘objects’. In previous systems the sound was assigned to a specific channel, whereas Dolby Atmos allocates the sound within a three-dimensional XYZ space. The amplifier reads the information and places the sound where it corresponds, being able to operate from two loudspeakers up to 64 in cinemas.
Although there are many compatible movies as well as Blu-Ray players, there are few computer games that support it, including the latest Star Wars: Battlefront, which required an external amplifier to enjoy it.
This will change from next year, as Xbox One, One S and Windows 10 will have support for Dolby Atmos, with Xbox One being the first console to support this codec. Along with Dolby Atmos decoding will also come Dolby Bitstream, which consists of sending the uncompressed sound signal through the HDMI cable to the TV or the amplifier.
PlayStation 4 already supported Dolby Bitstream, but it needed a compatible amplifier since the console is not able to decode this signal. Xbox One did not support either option, and from next year it will go from having nothing to having it all. The feature is currently available to Xbox Preview members.
Dolby Atmos will also feature sound enhancements through virtualization in headphones and natively supported speakers, although as a rule the best experience will be in speakers 5.1.2 and 7.1.2, the third digit being the two speakers that are placed on the ceiling to give verticality to the sound.