DTS Sound Unbound & DTS Headphone:X Review
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This review is about DTS Sound Unbound & DTS Headphone:X Review. So read this review DTS Sound Unbound & DTS Headphone:X Review with full details and specs.
The DTS Sound Unbound & DTS Headphone:X Review
While I normally review tech products and gadgets here at International Business Times, this review will be a little different. It’s common to see reviews here for things like headphones and gaming headsets, but this time we’re looking at software that improves on these gaming headsets. Audio giant DTS is known for their multi-channel theatrical loudspeaker and at-home surround sound setups, but managed to cram much of that same auditory experience into headphones. They’re called DTS Sound Unbound and DTS Headphone:X, and they’re great.
What is DTS Sound Unbound and DTS Headphone:X?
Let’s start this review first by explaining what’s going on here. When gaming on an Xbox, the console outputs what it calls uncompressed stereo audio. This audio is fine, and there’s nothing inherently bad about it. That said, companies like DTS, Dolby, and even Microsoft itself saw an opportunity to improve it with additional software.
So back to DTS Sound Unbound. This is a free program that can be downloaded on Xbox consoles as well as PCs. Things get a little weird here, though. While the Sound Unbound app is free, it doesn’t actually do anything until a user purchases a license for DTS Headphone:X. Even after a license is purchased, the Sound Unbound app has no extra features. It feels a bit unnecessary, but at least it’s not necessary up lots of space on the hard drive. What does DTS Sound Unbound and DTS Headphone:X do?
DTS Headphone:X really is where the magic begins. Once a license is purchased, Headphone:X can be selected in the Xbox settings menu. This changes the audio stream coming out of an Xbox controller’s headphone jack. It should be noted that purchasing a license for Headphone:X does not affect the audio coming from TV speakers or a connected stereo system up to an Xbox. It only affects the quality of the headphones.
Once activated, Headphone:X creates an object-based sound image rather than an audio-based sound image. To keep this very simple, this means that the Xbox interprets sound as individual sources. These sources are in different directions relative to the player, making the sounds seem to come from those directions. It’s not full-on head-tracking 3D audio like something from the Audeze Mobius, but it’s spatial audio that allows gamers to use their ears as much as their eyes while playing. How does DTS Unbound and DTS Headphone:X Sound sound?
It seems a bit obvious to say that things sound “better” with DTS Headphone:X enabled, but it’s true. Audio sounds much more realistic, rounder and for lack of a better word, “fresh”. Heck, even the little popping noises the Xbox makes when jumping around on the home the screen sounds more powerful and fuller compared to the standard uncompressed stereo option.
As for specific games, so far there are only a handful of games optimized to take full advantage of DTS Headphone:X. Headphone:X uses Microsoft’s spatial sound technology and is therefore only available for Xbox consoles and Windows PCs. That also means that the list of games specifically designed to be enhanced by Microsoft spatial sound, and thus Headphone:X, is short. The full list of games at the time of this publication, as provided by DTS, is as follows:
Gears 5 Borderlands 3 Call of Duty Modern Warfare Forza Horizon 4 Shadow of the Tomb Raider Assassin’s Creed Origins For Honor
Final Fantasy XV Resident Evil 2 Metro Exodus The Division 2
While that’s not a lot of games, more will definitely be added to that list over time. In addition, some movies are also tuned to take advantage of Headphone:X.
I spent most of my time testing Modern Warfare with DTS Headphone:X, and the improvements were dramatic. With Headphone:X turned off, my footsteps were still audible and I could hear gunshots in the distance in general directions, but everything sounded fairly flat and muffled. Once I turned Headphone:X on, I could clearly hear the different types of surfaces I walked on, from dirt to sheet metal to pavement. In addition, based on my ears, I could immediately determine where gunshots were coming from. It honestly helped me get a few extra kills just because I could hear which direction my opponents were coming from and prepare better.
The goofy analogy I came across up with while playing is that the default uncompressed stereo audio is like pre-grated cheese. It’s fine for what it is, but it doesn’t melt well and has a slightly off-taste. DTS Headphone:X is like cheese shredded by hand. You can just taste how much better it is, despite being much the same as the pre-shredded stuff. Hand-grated cheese melts naturally and is simply a better ingredient to work with. Likewise, Headphone:X just sounds more natural and has that extra “all natural” layer that makes audio sound more like it’s coming from all around you. Are DTS Sound Unbound and DTS Headphone:X worth the upgrade?
This is arguably the best of DTS Sound Unbound and DTS Headphone:X. There are a number of gaming headsets designed to support DTS Headphone:X, such as the Steelseries Arctis Pro. While these headsets are built to make the best use of Headphone:X, the software has a deep database of over 500 different headsets to best optimize the audio on each pair of headphones.
In addition to being compatible with just about every headset out there, DTS Headphone:X licenses continue to exist. I can access Headphone:X on my Xbox through a number of different profiles (even if the profile I activated the license for is logged out) and can even make Headphone:X work on different devices. After downloading DTS Sound Unbound on my PC, I immediately got the green light to start using it with my headphones.
To make the deal even more fun, purchasing a license for Headphone:X also licenses DTS:X Home Theater, offering the same sound quality as Headphone:X, but for DTS home theater equipment. I don’t currently have access to it, but it’s still cool to see that as an option if I were to upgrade my system.
Users can get all of this for a one-time purchase of just $20. That’s right, all these audio upgrades are available across all accounts and devices for just $20.
DTS Sound Unbound and DTS Headphone:X provide spectacular audio upgrades to any gaming headset. It makes audio sound clearer, more natural and more immersive thanks to its spatial audio techniques. When headphones:X-optimized headphones and headphones:X-optimized game pair up it’s pure bliss, but even when things aren’t optimized they still sound so much better.
Since Headphone:X is available for a purchase of $20, it’s a no-brainer. Using Headphone:X, I was able to perform better in online games and enjoy the sounds of lower stakes games much more than the standard uncompressed stereo audio used by default. Add to that the fact that I can access Headphone:X on several devices, and that makes it so much sweeter.
Wrap up DTS Sound Unbound & DTS Headphone:X Review
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