Dolby Atmos at the Media City Festival

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One of the highlights of the 2013 Next Generation Media City Festival at Salford University MCUK in Manchester was the Dolby Atmos presented by former Salford University student from the School of Acoustics, Digital Media and Audio Engineering… Matt Densborough who is now Dolby’s Director for content services.

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He talked about the latest Cinema Sound technology which was based not on 5.1 or 7.1 but 9.1 surround sound technology enhanced with additional speakers and mainly triple balanced panning which is the Dolby Atmos.  There are more than 250 cinemas worldwide embracing this new technology in Cinema Surround Sound.

Dolby had investigated Wavefield synthesis before coming up with the Atmos and they had tried out channel based audio and having 264 speakers to run the surround experience was  really not cost effective for the consumer market.

Salford Universities Wavefield Synthesis Development

Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) is a computationally expensive but very powerful and advanced way of creating audio signals in a physical space. The basic theory behind it is not very complex, but the technological effort is immense: A huge array of independently controlled speakers is used to create the same pressure wave as a virtual source located somewhere behind that array of speakers – or, even more impressive, in between those speakers and the listener. By doing so, WFS allows to create sound sources literally anywhere in that space. (from Monolake Wavefield Synthesis)

Wave field synthesis (WFS) is a spatial audio rendering technique, characterized by creation of virtual acoustic environments. It produces “artificial” wave fronts synthesized by a large number of individually driven speakers. Such wave fronts seem to originate from a virtual starting point, the virtual source or notional source. Contrary to traditional spatialization techniques such as stereo or surround sound, the localization of virtual sources in WFS does not depend on or change with the listener’s position. (from Wikipedia)

This was good but the number of speakers I guess was too much to sell to the market.  Another was with Ambisonics same both didn’t work for them for some reason.

Dolby Atmos is the latest using simple triple balanced panning technique from the front and back … left and right… and + height dimensions giving 3D audio experience for the consumers.

For people who’s into audio post production, mixing and mastering Dolby has created a plug-in as well to deliver this technology.  Really excited to get hold of this plug-in and try it out using pro tools and even other platforms like Nuendo or Cubase 7.  Here’s a link if you like to experience Dolby Atmos…

It’s great to hear former students talk about new technologies like the Dolby Atmos but of course with NHK’s 22.2 technology this is something to be investigated as well and which would be better as a comparison… hmmmm… what do you think?


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