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3D May Spur Audio Sales

6/07/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — The audio industry
could get a much-needed boost from
3D TV, especially if a new effort to
match soundtracks more precisely to
onscreen action bears fruit.

The initiative, spearheaded by SRS
Labs, will move beyond current surround
sound to create an immersive
field that is the aural equivalent of 3D
images, explained Alan Kraemer, the
company’s chief technology officer.

Kraemer announced the new audio
format, and plans to create an industry
alliance to develop it during a panel at the
3DTV2010 Event presented by TWICE
and fellow publications from parent company
NewBay Media — Broadcasting &
Cable, Digital Video, Multichannel News,
TV Technology and Videography.

“We’re working on better sound
rendering on the production level to
create a more immersive sound field
that correlates much better with the
depth in the image,” he said.

The first 3D TVs to feature the new
format are expected to appear next
year, Kraemer said.

Fellow panelist Mike Fasulo, executive
VP and chief marketing officer
at Sony Electronics, said 3D TV presents
a “huge opportunity” for audio,
and that he is amazed by the lack of
audio attachment sales.

“The whole experience is audio and
video,” he said. “Hearing is one of our
main senses, and it has to be a part of
the 3D experience.”

Ross Rubin, industry analysis director
of The NPD Group, agreed that
3D opens up audio opportunities, but
said surround-sound penetration still
hovers around 30 percent of homes,
compared with 65 percent for HDTV.

Bob Perry, senior VP of Panasonic,
acknowledged that audio is a “tougher
sell” than HDTV because the consumer
has to experience it, and because
HD has become the default TV
format. But Blu-ray’s vast capacity is
the key to providing multiple audio
formats and capabilities, he noted.

Kraemer said the current audio stream
doesn’t hold enough information to provide
3D sound. “But when the audio is
there, rendering is adaptable and you
can use it in multiple environments.”