We’ve heard of 3D TV and 3D printing (I still can’t comprehend how that works) but now there’s 3D sound. Yep, for all those of an auditory bent, it has arrived. One of the first demonstrations of 3D sound was held in the UK at Genesis Technologies headquarters. The aim behind the technology is to make the viewing experience even more scintillating.
If you have experienced the new Spiderman movie at the IMAX in London, you will know what the technology is capable of doing, even though it is currently pretty much in its formative years. But it is spreading, with a number of new games being encoded with the new format and indications that the BBC is investing some serious research and development into the concept.
Now here’s the techie bit: 3D audio relies on three layers of speakers: the lower layer, the traditional ear-height surround speakers; the height layer, placed at 40 degrees above the listener; and the top layer located at 90 degrees to the listener. Apparently these degree coordinates are quite important, with none of this “up and bit, right a bit, move it left” guesswork.
According to an article in Hidden Wires, http://hiddenwires.co.uk/2014/technology-3d-audio/ “new codecs provide both encoding and decoding for the new format, and these are capable of up-mixing non 3D sound. The DataSat RS20i processor for example, was used in the Auro-3D demonstration, and this offers backwards compatibility with existing 5.1 and stereo setups.” So now you know.
Interestingly for those who fancy installing this technology in the home, once it becomes more established on the market, it is a matter of interior design and acoustic arrangements. If you want a home cinema atmosphere, there are many ways to customise your home, from acoustic wall panels to surround sound speakers. In anticipation of the 3D audio revolution, there are now 3D soundbars, which are speakers double-mounted in a single column.
Keep your eyes (or maybe ears would be more appropriate), for Dolby Atmos http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/technology/movie/dolby-atmos.html. This is a new cinema technology which was first used for Disney’s Brave. Instead of using channels, Atmos uses object-based sound design, via a process of audio production becoming a 3D map of sound objects moving through space. The company has also developed a tablet version of Atmos which is so new that it doesn’t even have a name yet. However, if it’s been invented, it’s sure to come to the market in the future and into the home!