DTS promised surround sound on any two speaker or headphone system.
The big announcement from DTS at CES was Surround Sensation – a new algorithm designed to create a surround sound effect when listening to any two channel audio system, whether using speakers or headphones. Pseudo-surround is something that has been pushed on consumers for years, and something that I’ve viewed with derision for years – I have always believed that you need multiple speakers, properly placed to obtain a real surround envelope. But even I have to admit that pseudo-surround systems have come on in leaps and bounds recently.
Unlike many pseudo-surround systems, DTS Surround Sensation is a purely software solution. This means that it should be very easy to implement in certain platforms. For instance, anyone who likes to watch movies on their notebook will be happy to know that DTS Surround Sensation is a simple software update. DTS is working with established PC video playback application developers like CyberLink, so you can expect to see Surround Sensation in the next release. There’s also a chance that the system could be offered as an update on existing versions.
Implementation into hardware devices will obviously take longer, but given the simple nature of Surround Sensation, it shouldn’t be too difficult for hardware manufacturers to include it. Potentially Surround Sensation could appear in handheld media players, or even gaming devices. And the fact that the whole effect is internally processed means that you don’t need special speakers or headphones.
So, does DTS Surround Sensation work? Well, the system definitely produces a far wider soundstage than regular stereo processing. The DTS demonstration switched dynamically between stereo and Surround Sensation, to highlight the difference. There’s no denying that Surround Sensation is effective, and provides a potentially more enjoyable experience, but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve tested the system more thoroughly, with my own source devices.