Better Late than Never

In what they've billed as their continuing commitment to the growth and development of the DVD marketplace, Universal Studios announced 20 DVD titles with DTS audio tracks to be released in the first half of 1999. The opening volley, which includes Dante's Peak, Waterworld, Liar Liar, and Daylight, is expected in January. Other titles to follow are The Shadow, Babe, The River Wild, The Getaway, The Nutty Professor, Apollo 13, Happy Gilmore, 12 Monkeys, Dragonheart, The Jackal, The Frighteners, Born on the Fourth of July, The Boxer, For Richer or Poorer, Blues Brothers 2000, and Primary Colors.

In addition to a DTS 5.1 soundtrack, each DVD will also include a Dolby Surround (Pro Logic) soundtrack. Not surprisingly, a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is missing, making quick and easy comparisons of the competing surround formats difficult---but not impossible. All of these titles have already been released with Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, so a pair of identical DVD players could be used to compare the audio from the DTS and Dolby Digital versions. (Stay tuned!)

With the exception of For Richer or Poorer, all of the announced titles are already available as DTS laserdiscs. Since the most likely targets for a DTS-encoded DVD include the existing base of audiophiles and videophiles with DTS processors, Universal and DTS are ineffectively preaching to the converted. After all, if you already have a DTS processor, many of these DTS titles are probably already in your hot little hands. For a company that prides itself on a supposedly superior audio technology, it's ironic that these "new" releases could fall on deaf, or otherwise occupied, ears!

In a separate announcement made two days before the Universal Studios press release, Dan Slusser, CEO of Digital Theater Systems (DTS), apologized to all DTS customers and supporters for the ongoing series of delays. But, he stated, "We stand confident that you will find the performance quality of DTS DVDs to be the finest available on the market, and well worth the wait."

In addition to the Universal DTS DVDs, Pioneer LDC of Japan is currently shipping Tenchi Muyo, a highly popular animated film. Image Entertainment also has plans for DTS DVDs that should hit stores before the end of the year, but no titles have been mentioned so far.