SRS Multi-Dimensional Audio & NviroSound
Just over a year ago, I wrote about the Advanced Rendering Lab (ARL) at SRS Labs, makers of various sound-enhancement algorithms found in many consumer-electronics products. Among other things, the ARL is used to develop a technology called Multi-Dimensional Audio (MDA), which was in its infancy back then. At CES this year, it was clear that MDA has evolved quite a bit.
In its suite in the Trump, SRS demonstrated its MDA Creator software, seen above, which lets an engineer mix sound sources such as instruments in a musical group or elements of a movie soundtrackdialog, sound effects, etc.as objects, specifying their location in three-dimensional space rather than assigning them to one or more speaker channels. Then, MDA playback software can render the same file for any audio system using whatever speakers it happens to have. The more speakers, the more three-dimensional the soundfield from exactly the same file.
The soundtrack for a custom-made short called The Escape was mixed in the suite using a 12.1 monitor system, then played on two speakers, a 5.1 system, and finally the full 12.1 system, and it sounded fine in all three cases, expanding along with the number of speakers.
Also demonstrated was SRS's NviroSound spatial depth rendering and immersion algorithm, which uses advanced DSP to project the soundfield into the room. I heard a demo from Cowboys & Aliens with the 2-channel soundtrack played from two speakers, and the sense of depth into the room was startling. Next, they upmixed the 5.1 soundtrack to 12.1 and added NviroSound, and the effect was not as pronouncedafter all, 12 speakers is already pretty immersive! SRS hopes to get NviroSound into soundbars and AVRs this year, so we could see this feature at next year's CES.