Gaming has rapidly evolved over time, not only in terms of graphics and gameplay but also in how we experience sound. Sound effects, dialogue and background music all play an essential part in creating an immersive gaming experience, making surround sound technologies like DTS and Dolby Atmos increasingly popular among gaming consoles such as the Xbox.
Both DTS and Dolby Atmos offer impressive sound quality designed to create more realism in an immersive soundstage but which one offers better results?
In this article, we compare them both side-by-side on Xbox and discuss both their merits so you can make an informed choice on which technology best meets your gaming setup requirements.
What Are DTS and Atmos
DTS and Atmos are audio technologies designed to elevate both sound quality and immersion of movies, TV shows, and other forms of media content.
DTS (Digital Theater Systems) is an immersive sound format that utilizes higher data rates and advanced compression techniques than Dolby Digital for improved audio quality and precise placement of sound effects in its surround sound field.
Atmos by Dolby Laboratories is an object-based surround sound format. As opposed to channel-based surround sound formats, Atmos allows individual sounds to be assigned directly to objects within three-dimensional space for an engaging listening experience that features sounds moving more fluidly around listeners.
Both DTS and Atmos require compatible equipment – an AV receiver and speakers – in order to fully exploit their advanced audio features.
Sound can really transport us to another world and immerse us in another reality and thanks to modern audio technologies like DTS and Dolby Atmos, we now experience sound like never before. But how do these two audio technologies compare?
In terms of audio quality, DTS and Atmos both represent significant upgrades from traditional formats.
DTS (Digital Theater Systems) provides high-fidelity sound reproduction designed to deliver faithful renditions of source materials while being encoded at higher bit rates than most formats to deliver more detail and nuance to sounds produced using this format.
Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, is an object-based audio format that enables sound engineers to craft an engaging auditory experience for cinema and gaming alike.
Atmos uses an illusionary three-dimensional soundstage that simulates sounds coming from all sides – above and below you! – giving an atmosphere that’s both spacious and realistic; perfect for movies and games alike!
DTS and Atmos both excel at expanding audio beyond traditional stereo or 5.1/7.1 configurations. DTS’ versatility includes being capable of providing audio streams in formats including 11.1, 7.1 and 5.1 for maximum creativity by sound engineers in creating more expansive experiences for audiences.
Atmos takes this concept one step further with its object-based audio technology, creating an unparalleled immersive audio experience across 64 speakers including overheads.
Sound engineers can use Atmos to craft sounds that move eerily around a room allowing viewers to become fully immersed into its environment.
Atmos’ primary advantage lies in its ability to create an immersive audio environment.
Through use of its 3D soundstage technology, Atmos creates the impression of sounds emanating from all directions – including above and below you. This technology makes Atmos ideal for movies and games where an immersive audio experience creates more engaging and realistic worlds.
DTS on the other hand was designed to deliver high-quality audio faithful to its source material and create more expansive experiences than traditional formats; however, Atmos offers greater realism through its spatial profile.
Special Speaker Setup Requirements
Both DTS and Atmos require specific speaker setups in order to deliver their full audio experiences; typically DTS uses either 5.1 or 7.1 speaker systems while Atmos requires at least 5.1.2 systems which include two overhead speakers.
Though DTS and Atmos may appear complex at first, many modern soundbars and home theater systems can easily deliver DTS/Atmos audio without the need for complex speaker setups.
Furthermore, both formats are backward compatible allowing them to deliver quality audio content even without dedicated speaker setups in place.
DTS audio encoded at 1.5 Mbps offers higher bit rates compared to Atmos audio at 768kbps, showing its superiority when it comes to bit rates.
Though this difference might appear substantial, it should be remembered that bit rate alone does not determine audio quality.
Atmo’s advanced audio processing algorithms create an immersive audio environment that helps compensate for its lower bit rate.
Similarly, DTS and Atmos both deliver quality audio experiences even at lower bit rates so users still benefit from an amazing audio experience even with limited bandwidth or storage space.
Practically speaking, DTS and Atmos both deliver an enjoyable user experience. Both formats are widely supported by home theater systems, soundbars and other audio equipment allowing users to easily enjoy movies, TV shows and games using high-quality audio.
DTS stands apart in implementation due to being owned and controlled by one entity rather than being open-sourced; as a result, third-party developers may find it harder to incorporate DTS in their products.
Dolby Atmos is also a proprietary audio technology developed by Dolby Laboratories. Dolby owns the rights to the technology and licenses it to equipment manufacturers and content creators.
DTS and Atmos audio formats are designed to work backward-compatibly, meaning users can experience quality sound even without a dedicated speaker setup or equipment capable of supporting Atmos technology. This makes these formats an excellent choice for upgrading the audio experience without replacing all equipment completely.
Open Source Or Proprietary
DTS HD and Dolby Atmos are not open-source technologies. They are proprietary and require licensing agreements with their respective companies for certain changes.
The underlying algorithms and specifications of both technologies are protected by intellectual property rights, however, there may be differences in licensing arrangements and availability to manufacturers and developers.
DTS technology is owned and managed by DTS Inc, which was acquired by Xperi Corporation in 2016. DTS licensing terms remain proprietary – meaning manufacturers do not know exactly which requirements or costs associated with using this technology in products they make or purchase.
Dolby Atmos technology, owned by Dolby Laboratories and available for licensing, makes implementation more accessible by offering a free software development kit (SDK), making integration easy for manufacturers and developers of their software and hardware products with Dolby Atmos technology at no additional expense.
Let’s briefly touch upon streaming services. Both DTS and Atmos formats can be found across a range of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ however not all content available is in DTS/Atmos format. Some platforms may require higher tier subscription plans in order to unlock these formats.
Note that not all streaming services support Atmos on all devices. For instance, Atmos may only work on select devices for certain services and users should ensure their device meets these compatibility criteria before subscribing.
Ultimately, both DTS and Atmos offer significant enhancements over traditional audio formats by creating an immersive and realistic listening experience for their users. DTS aims to deliver high-quality sound faithful to the original source, while Atmos uses object-based technology for an expansive listening environment.
DTS and Atmos formats typically require special speaker setup to offer their full audio experience; however, modern soundbars and home theater systems often support these formats without complex setup procedures being needed to deliver them.
Both formats are also widely supported by streaming services for easy listening of content in high-quality audio formats. Your choice between DTS and Atmos ultimately rests upon personal taste and your current audio setup. Regardless of which format you opt for, you can rest assured knowing you will experience significant upgrades over traditional audio formats.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.