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Neural-THX Decoding Spreads To All Audio Inputs On AVRs

Some audio/video receivers (AVRs) equipped with Neural Surround technology have applied Neural decoding only to their XM Satellite Radio inputs, but that is changing with the technology’s transition to the Neural-THX co-brand, THX Ltd., Neural Audio said.

As a result, all AVRs equipped with Neural-THX decoders will decode all Neural- and Neural-THX-encoded sources, including FM radio broadcasts and future console-based videogames, THX said.

“There were a few AVRs that were Neural Surround enabled on the XM inputs only, but this wasn’t widespread among our manufacturing partners,” explained Dakx Turcotte, Neural’s marketing and business development manager. “The reason for this was because the XM Satellite service was the primary source for experiencing Neural Surround in our first generation of products.”

With the THX partnership, expansion into the video games industry, and digital and analog FM broadcasts in Neural-THX, “all new AVRs will feature Neural-THX Surround on all inputs,” Turcotte said.

Neural Surround technology encodes five discrete channels of stereo-compatible surround sound into a two-channel stereo signal. Neural Surround decoders became available last year in select AVRs to produce a discrete five-channel surround experience from two Neural-encoded XM Satellite Radio channels and Neural-encoded FM radio broadcasts, which now number 62 FM stations. Most of them are classical stations.

In contrast, Neural-THX Surround enables content providers to encode audio in up to seven discrete stereo-compatible channels for decoding by Neural-THX AVRs. Additionally, these AVRs down-mix a seven-channel program to five channels for reproduction by 5.1-speaker home theater systems. The AVRs also derive a seven-channel sound field from a five-channel program.

Console games are the likely first sources of seven-channel Neural-THX Surround, and announcement of titles are planned for later this year, THX said. The technology also allows for stereo-compatible broadcasts by satellite radio providers and FM radio broadcasters.

“Our big push for 7.1 is targeted at next-generation game developers,” the THX spokesman continued. “It just makes sense for the game development community to step up to 7.1 because it can add quite a bit of interactivity to the game play.” In a first-person shooter game, he said, “you will get a better sense of what is going on all around you. You will hear if a person is sneaking up behind you or where other members of your platoon are. This offers a big advantage for the gamer.”

THX also pointed out that Neural-THX is available in both THX-certified AVRs and uncertified AVRs. “This is actually a break from the traditional THX model of bundling technologies just with our certified partners,” the spokesman said.