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?
As you might expect, it boils down to money (and maybe spite, but mostly money). Every codec you add to your AV receiver or TV has a licensing fee. For example, Samsung TVs have not supported Dolby Vision due to the hefty licensing fee. Instead, they have gone with HDR, HDR10+, and HLG because they are open-source and free. Same with audio codecs. In this case, AAC and AC-3 Dolby Digital are the most popular streaming codecs and are universally supported. So why is Dolby Digital more supported? Money, marketing, and eventual market share make it so. They are the most supported because they are the most 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).
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.