The talk of home entertainment sound systems is often Dolby, Dolby, Dolby, but a concept from a rival could mean a speaker upgrade could come to your TV’s sound system.
While the sound systems on new TVs are getting better from the dire speakers they once were, they’re often the first thing to go when you upgrade to a new speaker. It typically doesn’t matter the TV you buy, because the moment you upgrade to a capable soundbar or an amplifier with several speakers, you’re going to switch the TV speaker off and just go with the new sound system.
And we wouldn’t blame you: dedicated speaker systems will almost always do a much better job than your TV’s speaker system will.
These days, TVs are thinner than ever before, leaving not a lot of room for a great set of speaker drivers and solid audio prowess. Sony has changed aspects of that with its Acoustic Surface technology, using its screen panels to push sound out that feels bigger and deeper, and if you grab one of an expensive TV model, there’s a good chance you’ll get a soundbar with some of the guts controlling the TV inside, as well.
There are certainly cases where a TV sound system is better than the average. But by and large, most aren’t, and so when you grab something like a Sonos Arc to replace your TV’s speakers, you’re going to leave your TV sound off. We do it, too.
But Dolby’s rival of DTS has a plan that could see your TV’s speakers join a surround system, allowing a future TV to act as the centre channel when you add other wireless speakers to an arrangement. The idea is a little like Samsung’s approach from last year onwards in “Q-Symphony” whereby its TV speakers would work with other new Samsung surround systems, complementing the arrangement rather than being switched off altogether.
That’s the announcement in DTS’ Play-Fi Home Theatre, an idea that may be built into TVs announced for the back half of the year in September, or even in next year’s TVs with something to look forward to at CES 2022. September is typically the timeframe for IFA in Germany to see those new TVs, but with IFA cancelled this year, those announcements may only be online, much like how CES was online only this year, as well.
Regardless of when it’s launched, DTS Play-Fi Home Theatre could allow supported television sets to connect with compatible wireless speakers in a surround system, turning the TV into a front centre speaker, while having it synchronise with other wireless Play-Fi enabled speakers. From the sound of things, they won’t be limited to one brand, either, meaning if you buy a specific brand of TV, you won’t necessarily need the same brand of speakers to complete the sound system, much like you do with Samsung’s Q-Symphony.
DTS talks up an impressive assortment of brands that look to have signed on to the concept, and the inclusion of Play-Fi Home Theatre in TVs may allow a TV speaker to talk to wireless speakers from brands with plenty of audio expertise and heritage, including the likes of Definitive Technology, Klipsch, Onkyo, Pioneer, Polk, Rotel, and SVS, to name a few. Hisense joined the Play-Fi ecosystem this year, so it’s entirely possible future Hisense TVs will support the wireless home theatre technology, too.
In a Play-Fi setup, speakers and other sound technology from these and other companies would be able to work with a TV without wires, adding multiple Play-Fi speakers to a room, up to two subwoofers, or grouping speakers together in a multiroom way not distinct from what Sonos presently does. If the idea works well, it could be a way to see high-end audio gear makes its way into the living rooms and wireless home theatre setups without the meaty amplifier. There’s even support for 24-bit 192kHz high-res audio, something not every wireless speaker system caters for.
As to when DTS Play-Fi Home Theatre is set for release in Australia, there’s no word as of yet because we haven’t seen any TVs announced that support the technology. But the timing of this news seems very, very close to when we typically expect new TVs, so you can probably expect some screens with DTS Play-Fi in the next few months.