A couple of years ago, the electronics industry was caught up in a tidal wave known as 3D video. As quickly as you can say “Avatar,” however, interest in the format peaked and waned.
During the same period over in the audio market, engineers were busy working on their own version of 3D. Now with audio products and technologies advancing rapidly, the industry says it is easier than ever to create an enveloping listener experience in the home.
Audio Companies Pushing New Technologies
Keith Burnett, VP of home A/V and automotive at DTS, says there are three basic elements needed to create a 3D listening experience in a home. “From DTS’ perspective, true 3D audio requires a vertical audio source in addition to the current horizontal audio field, as well as the perception of depth and distance of an audio source, and object-oriented audio cues.”
Burnett underscores that 3D audio is still in its infancy stages, but many studios are beginning to support multi-dimensional audio solutions like DTS’ Neo:X processing, which is capable of converting 5.1 and 7.1 lossy and lossless audio formats into a 3D listening experience. He adds that recent Blu-ray releases such as “The Expendables 2” and “Step Up Revolution” feature Neo:X surround sound tracks.
Burnett admits taking these surround sound options from the lab to consumers can be challenging. “In general, it is difficult for retailers to demonstrate the added benefits of surround sound, let alone 3D audio to consumers,” he says. “However, with technologies like DTS Neo:X, retailers can create an immersive, semi-spherical sound field with compelling vertical audio from a simple 7.1, 9.1 or 11.1 setup. For true 3D [sound], the whole audio ecosystem needs to change to adopt depth perception and object-oriented audio cues.”
DTS Challenges Apple, Sonos
DTS also entered the wireless audio category through its acquisition of Phorus in July of 2012. Phorus’ Play-Fi technology is a wireless solution that works within the structure of a standard Wi-Fi network. It can be incorporated into products ranging from A/V receivers and powered speakers to computers and TVs.
Burnett says Play-Fi is unique because it can stream to multiple speaker systems in perfect synchronization with no loss of quality.
Related: Seeking out the Perfect Headphone.
Related: DTS Delivers Surround Sound Headphone Magic.
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Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.