Wednesday, February 28, 2007


While we're on the subject of movies.......

If you happen to have a surround sound system (5.1, 6.1 or 7.1), odds are that either your receiver or your dvd player has a dts decoder built in. Just look for the dts logo (like the picture) somewhere on the front of the component. If you have one, the next time you watch a movie that happens to have dts audio, I highly recommend giving the dts track a shot. If you don't see the logo on the dvd case, check the setup menu for audio selection and you'll see it there, if it's available.

I mention this for two reasons. First, in my opinion, dts audio is by far a more realistic reproduction of sound and it's actually louder with lower volume settings so it never sounds strained or maxed. Now don't get me wrong, I could watch "The Matrix" on a 12-inch black & white television set with a single speaker and still enjoy it, but total immersion into the sound can make a significant difference.

The second reason is because dts, which stands for Digital Theater Sound, does more than produce audio for films. Over the past couple of years the company has been branching out and one of their endeavors has been to produce music compact discs that have been mixed in 5.1 surround sound. As of right now, they have a diversified selection ranging from rock to classical. Some of the music is new and in some cases, master recordings have been taken back into the studio and remixed to 5.1 surround with the assistance of the artists. I have several, and it's amazing to hear The Police or Queen, for example, in complete surround. Some of the songs are mixed so well, it's as if you're sitting with the band while they're playing around you.

I'm not saying it's life changing, or anything, but it is very cool. Check out their website if you're so inclined - there's even a buy 2 get 1 free sale going on.


Chris said...

Memories of the first DTS movie I saw in the theater. Star Trek Generations. It was a private showing for the staff of a computer gaming company that a friend of mine worked for and he snagged me a ticket so I could go. So this was a room full of computer techno geeks. The scene where the saucer section crash landed on terra firma where it seemed that you could feel the sound right down to your soul. Initially the first few seconds of that scene ending it was quiet. The a collective "cooooooool" came from the crowd.

I'm undecided on the 5.1 for music though. I guess it really depends on your system. Generally speaking in my house (my Dad is big into high end audio) the "sound room" is far far far superior to any home theatre surround sound. So yes you can hear the music around you, but in a well set up sound roon - and I do realize this is NOT the norm our there, you get the same effect. It's all about tube amps, room dimentions and most importantly the placement of the listening chair in the sweet spot.

I miss my stereo :>(

John Taylor said...

Excellent first movie for dts. The first one I saw was Jurassic Park which was, coincidentally, the first movie filmed in dts. Apparently, Spielberg's backing helped start the company. And it's funny you mention Star Trek....see next post.
As far as the music goes - you're absolutely right - two high end, well placed speakers can effectively become 'transparent' and surround the listener in music with no discernible source. The interesting thing about the 5.1 music is, while it surrounds you, there is also specific directionality involved. I use 11 Infinity speakers and, for example, when listening to Sting's "Nothing 'Bout Me" from "Ten Summoner's Tales" the piano track is mixed for the mid left and right while the back-up vocals are mixed to the rear speakers creating a "I'm sitting on the stage" kind of feeling rather than the 'ethereal' music everywhere sensation. Again, it's not life altering - but it is cool. When you have a chance to listen to one, I'd be interested in getting your opinion. If you have access to a 5.1 system - but no disc - let me know.