DTS and MediaTek Announce First System-on-a-Chip with Support for DTS:X

Mike Wheatley

High definition audio solution company DTS is collaborating with chip maker MediaTek to launch what it says is the first DTS:X chip solution for TVs.


The new chip will be launched in the second half of the year, and will power a new DTS:X immersive streaming decoder for over-the-top media services. DTS says this is a “must-have” for the 2020 IMAX Enhanced Program, which relates to a set of standards for a “consistent and higher bar for image and sound performance” on premium TVs and audio hardware.

DTS:X is an object-based audio codec that aims to create a multi-dimensional sound that “moves around you like it would in real life”. It was first introduced in January 2015 and is a rival technology to Dolby Atomos, though it offers a more flexible speaker configuration.

Whereas Dolby Atmos requires added overhead channels to your 5.1 or 7.1 setup, DTS:X works with standard surround speaker setups.. It can also support up to 32 speaker locations and up to an 11.2-channel system.

DTS claims DTS:X is therefore a more flexible codec that will work with "any speaker configuration within a hemispherical layout".

The nuts and bolts of DTS and MediaTek’s announcement is that TVs powered by the new System-on-a-Chip will become the first to support DTS:X. They include Android TVs built by Sony and Philips, the companies said.

TCL TVs won’t get DTS:X support as the company has switched from using MediaTek chips to those built by Realtek for its 2019 lineup.

“We’re excited to work with MediaTek to deliver the first DTS:X solution for TVs on its 4K UHD SoC chipsets,” said Joanna Skrdlant, General Manager of Home Audio at Xperi, which is the parent company of DTS. “We successfully launched DTS Virtual:X for TV together this past year, and we look forward to enabling DTS:X for TVs with MediaTek in 2019 to deliver a seamless, premium home entertainment experience for our mutual TV customers.”

The claim that the “DTS:X solution for TV is a must-have for the 2020 IMAX Enhanced program” is interesting, as it suggests that future TVs will need to support the standard in order to be certified. Sony TVs currently have this certification, but its present models do not support DTS:X.

DTS and MediaTek add that the new SoC is backwards compatible with DTS-encoded content.

“The solution includes a DTS:X transcoder capable of outputting DTS core over S/PDIF and ARC (audio return channel) and can output a DTS:X lossless bitstream via enhanced audio return channel (eARC) to connected devices such as DTS:X-enabled A/V receivers or sound bars to achieve a seamless DTS home entertainment ecosystem,” the company said.

The companies said the chip will launch in the second half of this year, which means we can expect it to roll out with early 2020 TV models at the latest.