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Immersive Audio

According to Auro-3D, "The time for a more advanced audio standard has arrived." Since the birth and rapid expansion of digital technology, with the formats for audio and video changing dramatically throughout the years. In fact, there has been more virtual reality (VR) content made in the past few years than the last twenty combined, thanks to the emergence of the Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus and other such virtual reality devices. There’s lots of innovation happening on the visual front, including new methods of gameplay, narrative structure and visual design. The obvious question: what’s happening on the audio front?

In traditional recordings we typically use the X and Y axis values to create a sense of fullness during our stereo or surround sound mixes. However, In today’s modern world we have the ability to easily alter and place sounds in new ways never imagined before. Immersive audio goes beyond 5.1 surround sound or stereo mixes and uses more channels to create the sensation of height as the Z axis. According to Todd Anderson from Aperion Audio, “Surround sound is strictly a channel-based technology, which means audio content is encoded to playback through specific speakers in a pre-defined arrangement. Immersive sound takes the traditional multi-channel surround experience to a whole new level by using height or presence channels (speakers mounted on the walls and the ceiling) to create a dome of sound. The resulting “3D” audio effect is absolutely stunning and ushers the listener much closer to experiencing artificial sound that mirrors real-world experiences.

The current leading encoding technique that is proving to be highly effective is “Object-based audio”. This allows SFX and foley artists to program an audio mix that pinpoints sounds to specific areas of space within a room.” A good working example of this new technology can be found and accessed by anyone across the globe in newly specialized “Dolby Atmos” theaters. These theaters are becoming infamous for their amazing immersive movie experience due to having speakers high up on the walls and ceiling. I strongly urge everyone to experience a film in an Atmos system and you will have a completely new, exciting, captivating experience like never before.

Today, the implementation of Dolby Atmos can be seen almost everywhere and across different platforms. Transformers: Age of Extinction was the first movie to be released on Blu-ray with Dolby Atmos. Streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, among others have also begun incorporating Dolby Atmos within their platforms. Within the last 5 years, the inclusion of Dolby Atmos in products like headphones, smartphones, and speakers has just about become the norm.

Immersive sound is certainly being released publicly on all platforms and will soon to be used everyday within home theaters, movies, video games, and music all across the world.



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