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Home Theater Quality Sound: Creative Labs DDTS-100

Upmixes Aplenty

The profusion of standards continues with Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6. These two standards make it possible to simulate a surround sound atmosphere from a stereo source. You just need to choose between a "movie theater" atmosphere with voices in the center and a "music" surround sound. in each of the two standards. Obviously, for the older DVD movies, the decoder also manages the Dolby Surround from the 5.1 using a specifically encoded stereo data stream.

You Need To Study

To be able to use this device to the full, you need to know something about home theater, since the documentation is not that eloquent. So to begin with, you need to connect everything up correctly and get a good upmix. That's the easy part. We tested the DDTS-100 using Logitech Z-5300 5.1 speakers and with the decoder in the downmix position 6 to 5.1 as well as with Creative Labs' Gigaworks S750 7.1 using an upmix of 6 to 7.1 on the speakers. There were the best computer speakers currently available in their category ( see our test ).

The choice of decoding sources is rather more complex. Fortunately, Creative supplies a little remote control device that repeats all the settings. The arrangement of the buttons, whether on the remote or on the decoder and the way they are labeled is not at all user-friendly. Furthermore, the impressive number of tiny flashing lights that seem to be distributed at random don't help either. So you need quite a lot of practice to be able to manage the system effectively. Having said this, a home theater amplifier is not much simpler, but at least the buttons and indicator lights are often better laid out. As a concrete example of what I am talking about, in stereo input mode, you will first need to find an analog input then decide whether you need a Dolby Pro Logic II or a Neo:6 upmix and finally whether you want a "movie theater" or "music" environment. Moving on to the DVD player, you need to choose once again, this time between the coaxial or optical input. Then you need to find the right sound track on the DVD and finally, where applicable, press the Dolby Digital EX button for a 5 upmix to 6.1. Phew.

You'll get used to it in time...