Televisions

What’s The Problem with DTS and Your TV?


Smart TVs promised us a streamlined setup. Gone are the days of needing external players or dongles hooked up to your system. All you need is a single remote and a single HDMI going from your TV to your soundbar or AV receiver. Heck, you can even plug a USB directly into your TV’s USB ports and direct play your media. It’s complete AV bliss. That is until you hit play and get no sound. You recheck the connections, look over some HDMI troubleshooting guides, but still no sound. After some frantic testing and probably some cursing, you figure out that the movie you are trying to watch is DTS encoded. But DTS has been around forever and your TV is new, this shouldn’t be a problem? What the heck? DTS is a popular format. So why doesn’t this NEW TV support it? Well, if you have encountered that scenario, read on, and we will explain why it happens and what you can do to fix it.

Editor’s Note: If your TV doesn’t support DTS, you won’t hear any sound. This occurs when people have their TV connected to their AV receiver and are using HDMI eARC to send the audio from the TV apps down to the receiver. They want surround sound, but they can’t get DTS to work. That is the situation we are assuming with this article.

Why Isn’t DTS Supported?

So How Do I Get DTS Support?

So here is the problem: If your new Smart TV doesn’t have DTS support out of the box, you won’t be able to get it. The TV needs the decoding hardware, and a firmware fix (usually) won’t do it. So, unless the manufacture has some workaround and decides to support DTS, you are out of luck. But worry not! We have a couple of solutions!

Solution 1: Change the Audio Format

So, if you want to actually hear something, you can’t use DTS if your TV doesn’t support it. But that doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck. You’ll need to change the audio output to something else. In most cases, your only other option will be stereo PCM (or something similar). It won’t be surround sound, but it will be sound. Your AV receiver can take that stereo signal and upconvert using DTS’s or Dolby’s surround upmixers. This will change it back into surround sound. Will it be the same as the raw DTS signal? No. But it’ll be sound and it will surround you. That will have to be enough. Unless you are willing to go the extra step.

Solution 2: Get a Streaming Box

You want DTS and we want you to have it. Unfortunately, this is going to require you to add something else to your system. The problem is that your TV doesn’t support DTS. That means you can no longer use its internal apps. Instead, you need a device that decodes DTS. And the problem with your TV is that it will never decode DTS. Sorry. That’s just the truth.

Ok, so I know you didn’t want to add anything to your setup, but I honestly find that most built-in apps are not as good as their streaming box counterparts. I have both an Apple TV 4K and an NVIDIA Shield, and they handle my audio far better than any of the built-in apps in my LG OLED. Plus, you will most certainly get some fancy upscaling and frame-rate matching that will make sure that both your SDR and HDR content look amazing! So my suggestion, stop using the built-in apps! So grab an Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast, Apple TV 4k, Roku, or whatever strikes your fancy. All of them will support DTS (though you should check the specs just to be sure).

The Apple TV 4k is one of the best streaming boxes currently

Our Take

It is unclear why some TV manufacturers have dropped DTS support in recent years. However, I would suggest that rising licensing costs of DTS, plus the increased popularity of Dolby Digital by streaming services, have played a part in that decision. Sometimes it seems the problem is that the TV manufacturers just get in a beef with DTS and decide not to support them. We’ve certainly seen that with apps being pulled off of competing devices. If you are willing to buy an external streaming box, this problem goes away easily. If not, you always have stereo. Maybe not the solutions you want, but they are the ones we have.


7 Comments on What’s The Problem with DTS and Your TV?

  1. Erik

    I thought this article was finally going to solve my LG OLED versus DTS issue, but as I understand it none of the streaming services offer DTS audio. So the issue for people is DVDs and blu-rays with a DTS audio track and not being able to hear that when viewed through their LG OLED television. An additional streaming box can certainly be a good idea to overcome the often laggy or poorly laid out or advertisement-riddled OS of their TVs, but I’m not seeing how it addresses the DTS problem. Am I missing something?

  2. Judy

    I have a Vizio soundbar with two HDMI inputs, one goes to my Blu-ray player and the other to the the back of the tv eArc port and right now my Sony tv works with DTS. If I happen to get another tv that doesn’t support DTS, will I still be able to play movies with DTS? Any help would be appreciated.

    • As long as your Vizio soundbar supports DTS (and it must if it currently works), then it will be fine. It is only a problem if you connect your Blu-ray player to your TV and send the audio back down to your soundbar from the TV. Currently, you are sending the audio and video to your soundbar and the soundbar is decoding the audio and sending the video up to your TV. So, you can get any TV you want. Hope this helps.

  3. Marcus

    A streaming box will not solve this issue because as far as I am aware, there is nothing on any of the streaming platforms that is in DTS format.But I’m wondering if a HD Fury Arcana could solve this?

  4. Lucas

    I have an Series X and I just can’t get the DTS sound of it. I’ve tried many ways but I just couldn’t resolve the problem. I tried plugging the console directly on my receiver, which didn’t worked and I tried plugging directly on my tv, which only gave me Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital options. No 5.1, 7.1 or any kind of DTS. Like, I need to do something else ? My receiver supports DTS and Xbox series X too, (theatrically). I know there’s no bitstream option on the console, but there’s no other way to have the DTS sound ? Would be really grateful for any help.

    If someone knows how to resolve the problem I would be extremely grateful

    • There is now bitstream options on the XBox Series X. I think it is called “Pass through.” It’s under audio options somewhere. For streaming services, it doesn’t always work well. For discs, there is a separate audio menu where you can enable bitstream. For discs, the Xbox works well.

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