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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.”
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