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Dolby Serves Up More Atmos Details, Plans

NEW YORK – Dolby Labs executives offered new insights into Dolby Atmos surround-sound technology, outlined plans to support the technology’s introduction into the home-theater market, and demonstrated Atmos-equipped home theaters in a quiet setting during a press event here.

Craig Eggers, director of Dolby’s home-theater initiative, said the company will step up its support behind the launch of Dolby Atmos by becoming a resource for consumers and dealers.

For dealers, the company plans demo discs, a white paper, information on setting up demo systems and an installation guide that highlights proper speaker placement, he said. The guide will be available around the time of the CEDIA Expo next month.

The company also plans online PowerPoint presentations for dealers and suppliers. They are expected to go up in the next 30 days.

In addition, Dolby is having conversations with audio suppliers for possible collaborative advertising and promotion. Dolby is talking to the suppliers to identify their needs and their retailers’ need, Eggers said.

For consumers, Dolby continues to add more Atmos content to its website, highlighting audio suppliers’ products. The efforts will complement online activities by such companies as Onkyo and Pioneer, which have created Atmos microsites with educational videos.

Dolby Atmos will bring new customers into the store, but a sale won’t happen without a demo, Eggers noted. “We’re working extensively with retailers, and they get it,” but the technology “needs to be experienced.”

Home audio products have begun to roll out, and Eggers said Dolby’s goal is the fall availability of Atmos soundtracks of Blu-ray discs and through videostreaming services.

Dolby executives also offered these insights:

• A change to the Blu-ray spec wasn’t needed to accommodate Atmos soundtracks, which consist of metadata added into the substreams of a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack.

• An Atmos-equipped AVR or preamp processor will render an Atmos soundfield only if a consumer selects the bitstream output of a Blu-ray player and turns off the player’s secondary-audio function.

• Atmos AVRs and preamp processors will up-mix two-channel and multichannel content to Atmos, delivering height information to in-ceiling speakers or to angled height drivers embedded in Atmos-enabled left-right and surround speakers. Those drivers bounce height information off ceilings, including drop ceilings made of hard reflective surfaces.

• Although Atmos-enabled speakers must be certified by Dolby to deliver height effects, any good-quality in-ceiling speaker is capable of delivering height effects. Dolby, however, recommends specific radiation patterns to widen the sweet spot to deliver an optimum experience to as many listeners as possible.

• Dolby has worked with suppliers to ensure their room-correction and calibration technologies work optimally with Atmos soundtracks.

• The company worked with THX to ensure there was no conflict between THX’s home-theater-certification standards and Dolby’s requirements for Atmos-enabled speakers.