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DTS 70mm
Requirements to play the DTS' Special Venue 70mm 6-track format
aka. "DTS 'Special Venue' for Beginners"

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Peter Fearn, DTS Service Engineer & Paul Rayton Date: 15 January 2007

What is DTS 70mm?

Films in DTS 70mm

The DTS 70mm digital sound process for motion pictures is designed to play in cinemas that are equipped for 70mm projection and 6-track stereo. It is a dual system in that the digital audio data is recorded on CD-ROM discs. A special time code is printed on the 70mm motion picture film and is located outside the sprocket holes. DTS 70mm prints do not have conventional magnetic striping, so, analog sound cannot be used. For fail-safe operation, a second DTS playback unit is required.

DTS sound for 70mm and 35mm film prints is designated as "5.1" channels, and is delivered to speakers in the cinema like this: 3 channels behind the screen (left, center, and right), plus left surround, right surround, and the ".1" channel, which is technical-speak for the subwoofer (a/k/a sub-bass) channel, a low-frequency-only speaker that gives films the BOOM sound modern audiences seem to need.

It's given the ".1" designation because it isn't truly a complete full-range channel. The ".1" channel is limited in range, hence the 6 discrete channels you are actually working with are described as "5.1".

• My Fair Lady
• Independence Day
• Vertigo
• Star Wars
• The Lost World
• Titanic
• Tomorrow Never Dies
• Mulan
• Armageddon
• Godzilla
• A Trip To Mars (S)
• Mercedes Car Commercial
• CineSpace 70
• Blackadder Back & Forth
• The Good Ship Citizen
• Reach for the Sky
• Advert for Blackadder Back & Forth 
• Dinosaur
• Fanny's Wedding
• Pearl Harbour
• Lawrence of Arabia
• A Year Along the Abandoned Road

What is DTS 70mm Special Venue?

Films in DTS 70mm Special Venue

The 70mm reader on a DP75

DTS "Special Venue" is a term used to identify any film format that is not the standard release format of 35mm 4 perforations per frame. DTS audio for special venue installations is 6 full-range channels (as opposed to the 5 + 1 partial-range channel described above). The channels are named from 1 to 6 as they can be placed anywhere in the cinema.

There is not a specific layout. Most will be 5 channels behind the screen: left, left extra, center, right extra, and right (once upon a time, known simply as channels 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), plus a single surround channel (formerly "channel 6") that feeds all surround speakers the same information.

However, some may choose to have a top centre, and stereo surrounds. Theme park rides are mixed specifically for the environment and speaker placement can be anywhere.

To play "special venue" DTS, you of course must already have the two "inner" sound channels available, including the amplifiers and the speakers. Most contemporary films are not mixed to use these channels, so many cinemas today are not equipped with them. So, first of all, you must make sure they are available -- and working.

For getting the DTS "special venue" sound to these proper speakers, you need some way to re-direct the sound channels from the DTS processor into the proper pre-amplifiers and thence into the appropriate auditorium speakers.

There are various ways to accomplish this, and the specifics vary somewhat depending on what type of DTS processor you have. There are several DTS processors out there now, including -- among others -- the DTS-6, DTS-6AD, and the DTS-XD10.  The DTS-6 cannot be used as Special Venue it is the DTS-6D that can be upgraded.
• Patton
• Playtime
• Hello, Dolly!
• Lord Jim
• The Sound of Music
• It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
• Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
• The Agony and the Ecstacy
• Doctor Dollittle
• The Miracle of Todd-AO
• To Be Alive
• South Pacific
• The March of Todd-AO
• Cleopatra
• West Side Story
More in 70mm reading:

What is DTS 70mm

Internet link:

DTS Free Techcenter

DTS Europe
5 Tavistock Estate
Ruscombe Lane
RG10 9NJ

Tel: +44 118 934 9199
Fax: +44 118 934 9198

The simplest method is to simply make up an "adapter wire", which you can plug into the output of your DTS processor, and which re-directs the sound to the appropriate pre-amps, etc. This is cheap to prepare, but requires time to install (and/or remove) whenever you change formats. And you will need to consult with DTS and/or your theatre's audio technician to get the pin assignments for the sound coming out of your processor. Care must be taken in this, as you can end up with screen dialogue sound coming out of surround speakers, or other undesirable effects.

If you have the newest systems from DTS (the XD-10), sound is held on the system's hard drive (the XD10 does 6.0 as well as 5.1 and 8 channel. This is all included in the Audio license). In that system, sound may be taken out in the AES-EBU digital format and routed into the theatre system digitally. To do this definitely requires a consultation with DTS and your theatre's audio technician, and some aspects of that will depend on what other equipment is installed in your cinema.

There is also at least one extra chip (from DTS) which must be installed in the processor. This chip is essential to allow the audio for the extra channels (channels 2 and 4) to be treated as full range audio, and be routed appropriately. This chip must be obtained from DTS as it is programmed by them to work with their processor. It's not all that expensive, but it is necessary. And again, that's why you need to have DTS (or a certified engineer) come over at least once to modify the equipment for such sound playback.

There are ways to make relay boards that can be manually switched between DTS modes, but such relay boards are not available "ready to order", but DTS may be able to help you.

It's relatively easy to do all this to get the original sound mixes to play. But it has to be done correctly, or sound will be in the wrong places in your auditorium!

How do I upgrade to DTS Special Venue?

To upgrade to DTS 70mm Special Venue all that is needed is an extra APTX I/C (integrated circuit). This is placed in the spare socket (bottom row, middle socket) on the D536 audio board.

Unfortunately the D536 needs to be Rev D, the later Rev H cards do not use APTX I/Cs to decode DTS. The APTX I/C went obsolete and the board was redesigned.

There are a few other things you need to have for Special Venue to work:

1. V1.46 time code software, and
2. AQRM_RC or latter, unit software (the latest version is V2.54.40).
3. A good idea would be to have the SV setup disc to check channel assignments.

Unfortunately DTS do not do a Special Venue test film, but the Special Venue setup disc will only self play in a Special Venue 6D player.

Below is the upgrade kit, it has all you need to convert a 5.1 6D to a 6.0 6DSV. Unfortunately it assumes you have a rev D, D536 audio card:
9005E18800A Upgrade Kit, DTS-6D SV (special venue) € 545.00
1606000200 IC,4 to 1 compression, (APTX100ED)
6060001000 CD-ROM,test,6.0 S.V.,Dscrete 6-ch set-up
7210000100 Promo,DTS tweaker,"DTS Listen
90500TCR00V1.46 EPROM, programmed, 256K, D422 U14 (TC)
9050AQRM04V2.54.20 EPROM, programmed, 4M, AQRM
9301DT6D02 Manual, DTS-6D-SV Special venue

Types of files on DTS Special Venue Discs

There are 3 different types of file on the disc for Special venue.

Basically it is down to if there is time code on the film. If there is then a 70mm reader head is required and all should work.

If there is not time code on the film and it is less than one disc in length (only on CDrom not two) then the unit can reed SMPTE from the tachometer.

If there is no time code on the film and the sound needs to be put on two discs, then an E175 (Tach to time code converter) is needed. You input the serial number of the film into the E175 and it automatically goes to the next reel number as the Tach signal increments.
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Updated 22-12-16