DTS Headphone: X Ears-on: True Surround Sound Audio in Your Headphones

Audio technology developer DTS's new Headphone X is a new mobile audio solution that promises to faithfully recreate the sound of specific listening environments using even the simplest pair of headphones or smartphones. The software, which will be deployed in a variety of devices ranging from headphones to smartphones and tablets, allows listeners to hear music, movies and, most importantly for E3, games as their creators always intended. To see just how good audio using this solution could sound, we visited DTS' booth here at E3 for a private demo session.

To give us a good idea of how accurately Headphone X can reproduce audio, DTS reps set up a meeting room with a 7.1 surround sound layout, that includes speakers up front, on the sides and around back, and placed four chairs in the center. We then put on a pair of headphones and listened to a prerecorded voice do call outs from each individual speaker. Why the speakers if we were going to listen to audio from a pair of headphones? It turns out, DTS set up the speakers and then scanned the room to determine how audio would sound when seated in the chairs between them. The company's reps then programmed its Headphone X technology to reproduce exactly how the speakers would sound using a simple pair of headphones.

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The resulting sound was so accurate, that it legitimately sounded as the the audio was pouring from the seven speakers surrounding us rather than the pair of headphones we were listening to. DTS says the technology will allow recording artists, motion picture sound engineers and gaming audio engineers to create audio that replicates the exact environment they want listeners to hear. For example, a musician like Kanye West can use Headphone X to correctly reproduce how the audio in his recording booth sounds, giving listeners the ability to hear exactly what he heard while recording one of hits songs. Similarly game developers can ensure that gamers hear every sound just as it was intended to.

The most impressive thing about all of this, though, is that it doesn't require an incredibly expensive pair of headphones to hear the kind of audio that Headphone X was made to create. In fact, our demo headset was a pair of $75 Sennheisers headphones. And while that company is known for creating top quality products, the headphones we were wearing certainly aren't the best of the best, yet they were still able to create audio that sounded like it was coming from a set of high-end speakers.

Headphone maker Turtle Beach will be the first device maker to get Headphone X to market, though DTS said it is working with other companies to help bring the technology to a wide array of devices. So be on the lookout for Headphone X-enabled devices coming to you later this year.

Daniel P. Howley
LAPTOP Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.