By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Now that cellphones are turning into portable media players (PMPs), at least three technology companies here at the Mobile World Congress focused on ways to coax the best possible sound out of them.
The companies were SRS Labs, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute and Dolby Labs.
SRS Labs unveiled CS Headphone, which upconverts stereo and matrix-surround music and soundtracks into discrete 5.1-channel surround sound that can be delivered through standard stereo headphones. The technology, optimized for low-power mobile devices, is promoted as delivering "accurate placement of 5.1 channels of natural-sounding audio around the listener's head."
For its part, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, which holds the lion's share of patents for the MP3 format, unveiled MP3D technology. It's said to significantly enhance MP3 stereo or MP3 Surround playback by providing an "out of the head" listening experience, a wider stereo image and better sound quality. Fraunhofer is also demonstrating the new HD-AAC coding technology, which offers lossless compression of music content stored on cellphones and MP3 players. The compressed music is touted as having better sound quality than CD.
Dolby Labs demonstrated its Dolby Mobile sound-enhancing technology for cellphones and PMPs. The post-processing technology up-mixes mono to stereo and up-mixes stereo to 5.1-channel surround, which users can hear through any pair of stereo headphones, Dolby said. The technology, also said to enhance bass response and clarity, appeared in cellphones for the first time late last year in a pair of Sharp phones sold through a Japanese carrier.
Dolby teamed with semiconductor company RMI to demonstrate a PMP platform incorporating the post-processing technology Cupertino, Calif.-based RMI, whose processors already appear in PMPs, will be one of the first silicon companies to offer the technology for PMPs, said senior marketing manager Craig Eggers. RMI said its target markets for Dolby Mobile-equipped processors include personal navigation devices, digital photo frames and in-car entertainment systems.
The Dolby Mobile suite of technologies also includes Sound Space Expander, which enables devices to deliver a wide soundstage through handset speakers and docking-station speakers, and a High Frequency Enhancer, which reinforces the high frequencies that often suffer when music or soundtracks are compressed, and Graphic EQ for manufacturer-defined two- to six-band equalizers.
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