First of all, could you tell us a bit about your background and your current function at DTS Play-Fi as General Manager?
Sure. I dropped out of my PhD program and thought it would be a lot more fun to start a business with a some of my school mates. This company, PhatNoise, was the first to use MP3s in cars and counted Volkswagen, Audi, Kenwood, Volvo, Mazda and General Motors among its customers. PhatNoise was then acquired by Harman, where I became Vice President of Product Development, leading efforts on the next generation of navigation, multimedia and audiovisual products for Harman’s consumer division. When I saw that the industry was struggling with wireless audio, I founded Phorus, which has developed some rather unique multiroom audio technologies. Dubbed Play-Fi, this technology relied on standard Wi-Fi as it was believed to be the only way to achieve mass acceptance by the market, although this approach was not very popular at the time. DTS embraced the same vision and bought out Phorus to begin licensing this technology to the industry. The rest is history. I am currently Managing Director of DTS Play-Fi, responsible for all activities.
You have just announced the launch of the “Play-Fi Home Theater” feature, intended for next gen TVs. So does that mean that one will have to acquire a brand new TV to enjoy it? Or are there any compatibility updates planned for TVs currently equipped with DTS Play-Fi?
DTS Play-Fi, and its recently announced Home Theater feature, works over standard Wi-Fi, and as such, many TVs already have the necessary hardware to support it. I’ll let the partners make their own announcements, which should happen soon, but it will be a mix of existing models via OTA updates and new models to be announced.
Knowing that DTS Play-Fi compatible TVs already existed and that 5.1-channel wireless operation has been possible for a few years, what does this novelty actually bring?
DTS Play-Fi Home Theater merges these concepts together. With Play-Fi in today’s TVs, users can add their TV as a multi-room loudspeaker, stream TV sound throughout the house without picture-sync issues or echo between rooms, and create a personalised listening experience through our Play-Fi Headphones app. Now, with our latest announcement, TVs that support Play-Fi Home Theater can become the center of a surround sound system. Audio streams directly from the TV to sound bars, speakers, and subwoofers. No cables, dongles or boxes are needed, as the system uses the Wi-Fi module already built into the TV. This means that there are no additional hardware costs for TV manufacturers and no additional purchase is necessary for users to use their TV for wireless surround sound.
What home theater speaker configurations are possible with Play-Fi Home Theater technology? 5.1-channel, 7.1-channel, 5.1.2-channel, more…?
DTS Play-Fi Home Theater supports a number of configurations, from an isolated subwoofer to a wireless connection to a soundbar, to discrete surround sound in a 5.2 channel configuration. Users can also let the TV broadcast the front channels and add additional subwoofers and surround speakers. The modular approach allows users to build the perfect system for their room’s needs, or build a system over time by adding other elements. Moreover, because the Play-Fi speakers and TVs can be used as multiroom units, users can move the speakers around their living room for movie night, and then put them back for listening in another room.
Could you explain to our readers how the pairing will work between their TV and their DTS Play-Fi compatible audio equipment? Will it be necessary to update their audio systems to enjoy Play-Fi Home Theater?
The set up is straightforward. Users see their DTS Play-Fi products directly on the TV interface, allowing them to choose between the TV, smart speakers or a soundbar for front channels, surrounds and up to 2 subwoofers. The TV automatically adapts to the number of speakers it connects to. With the ecosystem being interoperable, Play-Fi Home Theater is compatible with Play-Fi products available on the market, allowing users to choose from a wide range of brands and prices.
Final question, could you describe your personal home theater system?
In my bedroom, I have a Philips B8905 3.1.2 soundbar paired with a two Philips W6205 speakers to form a Play-Fi 5.1.2 system. It’s unobtrusive and the sound is fantastic. Maybe even too much because my wife is wondering about the main room system now! But hey, I was able to install a surround sound system in my room, that’s already a pretty big win!