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Analog TV Gets More 5-Channel Surround

A total of 17 TV series offered by analog TV stations and analog cable operators will be offered in five-channel Dolby Pro Logic II surround during the 2004-2005 season, Dolby announced.

In the current season, only a handful of programs, mainly special events, such as the Academy Awards and the Olympics, were transmitted in DPL II, Dolby said. “This is the first big push for Dolby Pro Logic II [in broadcasts],” a spokesman said.

The 17 series are : American Dreams (NBC); Austin City Limits (PBS); Crossing Jordan (NBC); Desperate Housewives (ABC); ER (NBC); Father of the Pride (NBC); Hawaii (NBC); Joey (NBC); Las Vegas (NBC); Law & Order (NBC); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC); Law & Order: SVU (NBC); LAX (NBC); Monday Night Football (ABC); Monk (USA); NFL on Fox (Fox); and Six Feet Under (HBO).

“The growing number of quality programs being mixed with Dolby Pro Logic II is a clear indication that the television industry has embraced our technology and recognizes the importance of delivering to viewers a superior surround sound experience via traditional stereo broadcast services,” said Tom Daily, Dolby’s pro audio marketing director.

Like Dolby Pro Logic, DPL II is a matrixed technology that hides full-range center-channel, left-surround, and right-surround information in the two main stereo channels delivered by stereo-TV broadcasters and cable-TV networks. In 2001, the first home-audio products equipped with Dolby Pro Logic II decoders hit the market to extract a five-channel-like surround experience from sources that aren’t encoded with DPL II. When the decoders detect a DPL II program, however, the surround experience achieves a higher level of realism and “a more precise surround experience,” Dolby said. The result is a soundtrack that more closely approximates the Dolby Digital 5.1-channel mixes available to DTV viewers.

More than 100 video game titles are also encoded in DPL II.

TV broadcasters have also begun to offer programs in a similar technology, SRS’s Circle Surround II.

In 2003, analog-cable operators and local analog-TV stations delivered a small but growing amount of Pro Logic II and Circle Surround II content, having aired the first matrixed five-channel programs on a trial basis in 2002.