Thursday, October 22, 2009

iPods and Dolby Mobile

Join the Facebook group for consumers who support integrating Dolby Mobile into iPods and iPhones, bringing surround sound to any pair of headphones.
Join here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Audio Dolby

New resources from Dolby. Find out how Dolby can improve your audio experience anytime you listen to music or watch movies.
Dolby Laboratories: Audio Dolby

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dolby Pro Logic II - Being Surrounded

Dolby Pro Logic II is the ancestor of the original Dolby Pro Logic technology. The main idea behind Pro Logic was to expand any stereo sound source into 4 channels (front left, right, center, and one surround behind the listener). This quickly developed into Pro Logic II, which splits the stereo source into 5 channels, more common in homes today, with two surround channels.

Dolby has also introduced additional iterations of its PLII technology known as Pro Logic IIx and Pro Logic IIz. PLIIx splits the stereo sound into 7 channels to be listened to with a 7.1 system, and PLIIz adds two height channels to PLIIx (one above the front left and right channels).

The great thing about PLII is the ability to enjoy a much more expansive surround experience in a home theater with only stereo source audio. iPods and other MP3 players are popular due to their portability, but the sound must be compressed into a smaller stereo format. PLII expands this audio into a more realistic surround experience, which can be especially enjoyable when viewing movies that are encoded in stereo. Dolby even has a solution for when the listener is using headphones rather than a home theater system. Dolby Headphone can be used with any set of headphones to sound more like surround sound. Combined with PLII, Dolby Headphone .

Learn more here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dolby Digital - A Closer Look

In summary, Dolby Digital is an audio codec that encodes up to 5.1 discrete channels that can then be played back, or decoded, for surround sound. Most of us have probably heard the term Dolby Digital and may have associated it somehow with surround sound, but may not have known exactly what it is or does.

Dolby Digital became the standard audio for the DVD and has been adopted by most broadcasters, which helped define the home theater setup as we know it today - front left and right speakers, a center speaker primarily for dialogue, surround left and right speakers for ambiance, and the low frequency effects (LFE) channel for better bass. Most, if not all, DVD players decode Dolby Digital audio to allow playback on 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer (hence 5.1 as the LFE channel is not a full range channel - usually below 100Hz) as discrete channels of information. The decoded audio information flows from the DVD player to the A/V receiver (AVR) and then to the 5.1 speaker system for surround sound. The surround experience could be possible without Dolby Digital, but the storage space required would exceed what could be included on a single DVD. Dolby Digital, also know as AC3, is a compression of that audio without losing the discrete channel information and requiring much less storage. For more details and specifications click here.

What to look for: Look for the Dolby Digital logo on any consumer electronics device you purchase to ensure it will be capable of 5.1 surround sound playback. Devices include DVD players, AVRs, TVs, satellite receivers, cable receivers, portable DVD players, and more.

Dolby has expanded its technologies for even greater sound quality with today's high definition formats, such as Blu-ray. More about that later.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dolby in your Home Theater

Dolby recently gave Engadget a rundown of its current technologies that impact anyone with a home theater. Engadget notes that Dolby may be a household name, but how many people really understand how Dolby impacts our lives with entertainment? This article gives some answers. Understanding the purpose of Dolby's technologies and how they are integrated into devices and software will help you unlock the high quality audio of your home theater system. Feel free to send questions about how to unlock pure Dolby quality sound in your home theater. You can also visit Dolby's web site for additional resources and answers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Arcam AVR600 AV Receiver with Dolby Volume

Arcam has released a hefty receiver with an equally hefty price tag. One of the highlights of the receiver is the inclusion of Dolby Volume, Dolby's solution to both sound leveling among various input devices as well as an enhanced surround experience at lower volumes. The folks at Home Theater Magazine have performed a fairly extensive test of the receiver here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Super Audio CD

You may not have heard of Super Audio CDs (SACD) before, which is understandable since it was a high definition format that was never able to really take flight due to the release of the DVD. SACDs require different players than a regular CD player, but the technology has been integrated into a few DVD players.

I recently tested my first SACD and was rather impressed with the quality and the much richer experience of a multichannel mix on my 5.1 surround sound home theater. It has a much wider and expansive feel than a regular stereo CD mix and I'm sure it was more fun for the mixers to put together. It is almost a shame that the SACD never grew in the marketplace, but we do have DVD-Audio discs that are much more common with a similar higher quality compared to CDs. My next step will actually be testing one of these out. It may be interesting to see if there is any (perceivable) difference between a DVD-Audio disc and an SACD.

Even though the format never made it mainstream, SACDs continue to be made, primarily for classical or instrumental albums. There is an excellent site for browsing and searching albums available in SACD at

Friday, April 17, 2009

HD Home Videos with Surround Sound

It looks like Sony is focusing its efforts on camcorders that record directly to the internal hard drive rather than to tape. A recent camera (the HDR-XR500V) records in HD quality with Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator. This is an impressive surround sound feature that helps match HD video with a much better quality and realistic surround sound experience. The microphone zooms as the picture zooms and sounds from other directions are captured in a way that the listener can recognize where those sounds were coming from at the time of recording. The tests that I've heard using such cameras have been a much more enjoyable listening experience than having all the audio coming out of the center channel.

In addition to the stunning video and surround sound, this also has a 12-mexapixel still camera using the same lens. Since the camera is small (especially considering its capabilities) it can be the only camera you carry, useful for both video and still shots.

Sony HDR-XR500V

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Home Theater Speaker Setup

If you have purchased a set of home theater speakers or a home theater in a box (HTiB) system, you may have found a speaker placement guide included in the instructions manuals. These are there to help you get the best sound from your new system. Things often change in your room, whether you have rearranged the furniture, bought new furniture, or even moved your home theater into a new room or a new house. Such changes in the home theater environment can affect the sound coming from your system. And if you are not one to keep your manuals around for reference, you can check out one of many speaker placement guides online. You can probably even find your same instruction manual on the web site of your receiver or speaker's manufacturers. I also enjoy the interactive placement guide at Dolby's web site, showing the general ranges for speaker placement.

I recently purchased PSB home theater speakers that have performed exceptionally. Many receivers now have auto calibration microphones and technology to automatically set the speaker volume levels in relation to each other, which also maximizes your surround experience. The next step up in calibration is hiring an expert from a specialized installation service company to come into your home and calibrate your system, both the audio and the video.