Upside: Some audiophiles feel that DTS-encoded DVDs offer better sound than those with Dolby Digital.
Downside: Compared to Dolby Digital, DTS encoding is found on relatively few DVDs.
Forecast: We'll see more and more DTS-encoded DVDs.
DTS is an alternative to standard Dolby Digital. DTS uses less compression than Dolby, and some audiophiles believe it produces richer bass and greater dynamics. Virtually all receivers and home-theater systems include DTS processing.
Upside: Neo:6 provides up to six full-band channels of matrix decoding from stereo matrix material.
Forecast: This format will last.
It's similar to Dolby Pro Logic II, but Neo:6 produces up to 6.1 channels of surround vs. PLII's max of 5.1. You can use two rear-center speakers and bring the speaker tally up to 7.1. Like its rival Dolby format, Neo:6 is fully compatible with all stereo sources.
Upside: More enveloping surround effects than standard 5.1 surround.
Downside: Requires a receiver with ES processing; difficult to implement in rooms where the prime listening position (couch or chair) is located near a wall; ES-encoded DVDs remain scarce.
Forecast: Because of these downsides, interest in ES will likely remain low.
ES adds one (or two) rear-center-surround channel speakers to the standard 5.1 array and can deliver more enveloping surround effects than standard Dolby or DTS. Unlike EX, Dolby's matrix, 6.1-channel format, DTS ES offers a fully discrete back channel for more precise localization and imaging. But that advantage over Dolby EX holds for only DTS ES-encoded DVDs; currently, a mere handful of titles is available. To utilize this format, you'll need an ES-capable receiver.
Upside: Comparable to DVD-Audio quality but doesn't require a DVD-Audio player; six discrete channels; full video capability; DTS 96/24 discs will play on any DVD player.
Downside: Limited software availability; requires receivers with DTS 96/24 processing.
Forecast: DTS 96/24 will coexist with DVD-A but won't likely become a mainstream format.
DTS 96/24 is similar to DVD-Audio in that it provides high-resolution 96/24 5.1-channel sound, but it also offers full-motion video capability (DVD-A has only limited video capacity). Another advantage is that you don't need to buy a new DVD-Audio player; the DTS 96/24 signal can be fed by any DVD player via a single digital cable to DTS processors in the receiver. To get the best sound, you need a receiver with up-to-the-minute DTS 96/24 processors.