Getting DTS Audio to Play


Why is it that when I play DVDs in auto mode on a Denon AVR-1907 I get sound from the speakers, but when I try and play a DVD which has DTS I get no sound from the speakers when I select the DTS mode on the reciever?

-submitted by johnt


Popcorn...check. Remote control... check. DTS surround sound...check. Wait? Where the heck is the sound?!

There's no doubt DTS offers up some rather tasty audio, but getting it to work isn't quite as simple as popping in the disc and hitting play. In fact, there's three big things you need to do before DTS will work, and one important step every time you play a DTS DVD.

Now, here's a little background on why selecting DTS on your receiver doesn't work. DVD players don't send out more than one audio track at a time, so it's not like a radio which has to "tune" in the station you want to listen to. The DVD player (unless otherwise configured) will use the disc's default audio track, and that's usually always Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo, or PCM stereo. Since that's what's coming down the pipe to your receiver, manually engaging the DTS decoder won't do you any good; a DTS signal isn't there to lock on to.

Setting Everything Up

In order to play DTS Audio, there's a few important things you need to set up. The first three will only need to be done once.

First, you need to make sure you're using a digital connection between your DVD player and receiver, and your receiver MUST be configured to look at the digital connection for sound. Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS signals won't work over stereo RCA connections labled L/R. Most DVD players will offer two choices for digital connections, coaxial and optical. Newer setups may be able to use HDMI connections to transmit audio. Either way, a good check to know if you're working digitally is to have ONLY the digital audio connection going to the receiver. If you hear something, you're good to go.

Next you need to make a trip into your DVD player's setup menu. Many players have a toggle in the audio section of the menu that will switch off DTS and Dolby Digital output, forcing the player to output stereo signals instead. Dolby Digital is typically enabled in players with this option, but DTS is commonly turned off by default.

After you have the hardware setup properly, you need to look at your receiver. As you've discovered, you can force the receiver to engage the DTS decoder, but there's no real benefit in doing so. Leave the receiver in "auto" mode, which will figure out what the stream is on its own and engage the appropriate decoder automatically. When playing commercial films, it should work 100% of the time.

Selecting DTS

This final step you'll need to perform EVERY TIME you want to listen to the DTS track if available as an option on the disc. The DTS track on commercial DVDs will not typcially be read automatically. You'll need to visit the DVDs menu (the movie itself, not the player), and select the option for audio (typically "Language") and select the DTS audio track. When the main movie begins, the receiver should automatically switch to DTS.

If you can't find the option in the DVDs menu, your DVD player remote should have an "audio" button that will switch audio tracks on the fly. Wait for the main movie to begin, and press it until you find the DTS audio track.

The best part, once you have all the hardware set up properly, you can perform the final step in about 5 seconds... fast enough that your popcorn won't be cold by the time the movie starts. Enjoy!

Learn More About Surround Sound

Determining the Best Speaker Configuration for a Surround Sound System - There are many different types of surround sound systems - 5.1, 6.1, & 7.1 configurations as well as other products that only use one or two speakers. So many configurations make it difficult to determine the right number of speakers a surround sound system should have to give you a rewarding surround experience.

Selecting the Right Audio Format for DVD Playback - There are many who've spent thousands on a killer digital surround sound system to achieve the ultimate cinematic experience in the comfort of their living room. Yet, one of the most important steps to getting the best sound quality possible is so often overlooked, and it can make the difference between night and day when it comes to audio.

Get More Out of Your Gear

How To Calibrate Your Surround Sytem Using an SPL Meter - In movie theaters and professional studios, audio systems are calibrated using sophisticated measuring equipment to make sure the sound is being replicated in a precise manner. One of the calibrations they do involves balancing the volume output of every channel in the system. Today's home theater receivers give you one of the tools necessary to do the same for your home theater system.

Home Theater's Biggest Mistakes - Home theater isn't like what you see on TV; tons of good-looking men and women dying to view a scary-real-life picture in a plush, high-tech room. Unfortunately, in the rush to reach home theater nirvana, a lot of people make mistakes that can leave them somewhere between mildly disappointed and wanting to toss the whole mess out a window.



If I have a dts dvd audio disc (Moody Blues Days of Future Past, in this case) - and a Denon multi-format disc player that includes dts - but my system is wired for stereo only - can I still play the dts dvd audio disc?


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