Stunning DTS Headphone:X Will Make Your Headphones Go To 11: BigPictureBigSound

Headphone X isn't a headphone or an amp, it's a new surround virtualizer technology. DTS demoed it by playing channel ID announcements (i.e., "left channel," "right side surround channel," etc.) through an 11.1-channel speaker system, then playing the same announcements through Sennheiser HD 239 headphones. So uncanny was the simulation, I actually took the headphones off to make sure the speakers weren't playing. Existing headphone virtualizers such as Dolby Headphone don't simulate a center speaker well, but through Headphone X, it really sounded like there was a speaker sitting several feet right in front of me.

The demonstration was simple. After being brought into a modestly-sized theater, we were told we'd be watching a quick channel identification video. The first time through, we listened to this video using the eleven monitor speakers positioned around the room in a typical 11.1 configuration, which included a pair of height channels up front and in the rear. A charming female voice proceeded to speak from each channel, clearly identifying each speaker location.

Next we were asked to put on the sub-$100 headphones we each had at our chair. The same video was then played again. The sound experience was virtually identical. Let me repeat: virtually identical. If not for the physical pressure (i.e. the feeling) associated with wearing a pair of over-ear headphones, I couldn't believe that what I was hearing was coming from the headphones. In fact, Editor Chris Boylan was seated next to me during the demo, and he was convinced his headphones weren't working, and that he was still hearing the separate speakers. At least, that was until he took the headphones off, and the sound stopped completely. Everyone in the room was doing the same thing: taking their headphones off and putting them on again, just to make sure it was really just the headphones playing. Unbelievable.

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DTS Headphone:X 11.1 & DTS Play-Fi -avsforum

Headphone:X is capable of reproducing soundtracks mixed in 5.1, 7.1, 9.1 and 11.1 channels, making it the most advanced headphone-surround solution in the company’s portfolio, DTS said
The technology will accurately place the height and width channels of DTS Neo:X 11.1 mixes that are optimized for playback through home theatre systems equipped with DTS Neo:X post-processing , a spokesman said. These soundtracks “may not be printed in 11.1, but they are definitely mixed and optimized for 11.1 systems,” the spokesman said.
DTS Headphone:Xâ„¢ | DTS
DTS on how it all works:

The DTS Headphone:X experience first requires surround content to be encoded as a DTS-HD® bit-stream with the room information embedded in the stream. Next, the DTS Headphone:X solution embedded on a PC, tablet or phone calibrates to the headphones in use. Finally, the reference data is decoded and post-processing enhancement techniques are employed to deliver a truly amazing, home theater quality surround sound experience over headphones.

Although DTS clearly has their eye on this being a mobile-geared technology - ideal for laptops, smartphones, and tablets - the late night home viewing implications cannot and should not be overlooked. With Headphone:X built into an A/V receiver and a pair of wireless headphones, one could conceivably experience a stirring late night movie without compromising the surround experience, and more importantly, without waking the kids and neighbors. With the right headphones, you could turn it up to 11 and not bother a soul.