Six Questions: DTS CEO Jon Kirchner20 May, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey
An 11.1 sound system may seem excessive, but don’t tell that to DTS, one of the leaders in digital surround sound formats. It introduced the 11.1 concept — dubbed Neo:X — at the Consumer Electronics Show, and it has drawn “significant interest,” according to Jon Kirchner, the chairman, president and CEO of DTS.
Kirchner chatted with Home Media Magazine about Neo:X; the general importance of sound in the theater, in the home and in the mobile space; the important role DTS is playing in sound for 3D; and how DTS figures into networked entertainment offerings.
HM: At CES, DTS showed off the first ever 11.1 surround-to-3D sound decoding solution, adding two front-height speakers and two front-wide speakers to a traditional 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system. What’s the consumer market potential for a sound system like this, what new sound mixing options does this solution present and how quickly might we see this solution used on disc?
Kirchner: Neo:X was initially developed for high-end AV receivers capable of handling the extra dimension introduced by the height speakers. Recently, we have observed significant interest from automotive licensees for car audio systems, and we are exploring possibilities to external key elements of this technology for tailoring to other home audio applications (HTiB, TV, etc.). Content providers can use existing mixing tools to create content optimized for Neo:X, as long as they understand how the extra channels are derived from the content, and the good news is that there is no new format that needs to be created.
HM: What kind of work has DTS been doing in 3D for cinema, broadcast and 3D Blu-ray Disc?
Kirchner: We are launching Neo:X with some of our AV partners this spring. Neo:X truly adds a new dimension to home theater design: height. The additional height channel configuration of Neo:X, which is a three-dimensional sound presentation, gives consumers an even more intense and immersive 3D experience.
HM: What kind of gains has DTS made in the digital space, and what’s next for DTS and streaming: new devices, new services, broadcasting?
Kirchner: In the past 18 months, DTS has focused on working on all elements of the digital delivery ecosystem. While not every part may be highly visible, it’s only through partnerships with each part of the chain — from creation to consumption — that DTS can provide the high-quality
experience consumers expect. Working with tools providers, content aggregators, and standards bodies and initiatives like UltraViolet, for example, DTS is able to power high-quality audio for digital media with uniquely flexible audio technologies.
In parallel we have worked alongside our CE partners to ensure DTS technologies are embedded in the new era of connected devices, from PS3s and PCs to connected TVs, IPTV set-top boxes and smartphones. Recent announcements from RoxioNow, FTO, Samsung, LG and Panasonic highlight the whole-market approach DTS is employing.
What’s next? DTS is expanding its reach in the “back end” and working with more technology partners and streaming services/broadcasters to ensure the widest range of content with DTS audio is available to the consumer, no matter where, when or how they wish to play it.
HM: With more and more content being viewed on the go, what’s DTS doing to improve the sound quality in the mobile arena?
Kirchner: DTS is focusing on improving the user experience on mobile devices. The playback mechanism can be either an earphone or speaker; DTS Envelo virtual headphone technology expands the sound field and enhances both high and bass performance for any mobile content. DTS Boost technology increases the perceptual loudness level on the speaker for clear sound. Both technologies considerably enhance the mobile audio experience.
HM: Can you talk a bit about companies that recently have incorporated DTS technology into their devices?
Kirchner: In general we see a strong demand from product categories supporting networked entertainment offerings. On the content side, leading providers of networked media content believe sound matters and choose to incorporate DTS to differentiate their offerings. That includes network media provider Sonic/Rovi, as well as leading IPTV providers in Europe such as Orange and Free Illiad. The hardware counterpart to these networked content offerings is all the work we are doing with device-makers to enhance the playback experience on a range of devices. For example, we are working with Samsung, LG and Panasonic on networked televisions and LG, T-Mobile and Pantech on mobile phones, to name just a few. Plenty more will follow in the future.
HM: Though primarily known for your work in the home theater space, let’s talk about important segments for 2011 and the reasoning behind focusing on these areas.
Kirchner: We believe consumers see home theater sound as a reference; as their media consumption patterns evolve to be portable and mobile, they still demand products that deliver great sound. DTS serves as a trusted name in this regard, as consumers know we understand that sound matters. From a business perspective, this creates new opportunities for growth and innovation from new demand for DTS technology in media platforms such as laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones.