Audio Psychoacoustics and Audyssey – Dr. Chris Kyriakakis began while at U.S.C. to shape the sound of music to conform to any space in which it is played. He eventually founded Audyssey, whose goal is to make living rooms sound like concert halls or movie theaters. Psychoacoustics has developed tremendously since the advent of the digital age, which allowed engineers to manipulate sound in ways that had never been done before. They could create sounds that never existed, eliminate sounds they didn’t want, and use changes in filter combinations to deliver sound to listeners that had never before been possible.
In 1998 Dr. Kyriakakis and some of his students went to Symphony Hall in Boston to record Messiah. Back in LA they had listeners rate the sound while it was shifted to different combinations of speakers around the room. They found that wide speakers at about 55 degrees either side of the listener’s sweet spot (in addition to the stereo speakers directly ahead) mimicked the reflection from the side walls of the concert hall by causing sounds to arrive at listeners’ ears milliseconds after the sound from the front. Then they worked on the impression of “depth of stage.” They found a preference for height speakers in front of listeners, and also slightly delayed. That gave the ear and brain a sense of where the different instruments were on the bandstand. Audyssey’s MultiEQ and other products use microprocessors to filter sound, minimize distortion and add delays to make the music sound nearly perfect to the human ear. Their automated initial setup is now part of many high-end AV receivers and preamps, and their DSX post-processing adds front-height and “wide” speakers. Other types of processors, such as Dolby Pro Logic IIz and DTS Neo:X, also create additional channels for front-height and/or wide speaker pairs to add to the standard 5.1 channel system. [Much more effective for both music and movies than 7.1 center-back-surrounds in our opinion…Ed.]
UltraViolet Virtual Content Locker for Digital Rights Management – Solekai Systems is working with consumer electronics manufacturers to implement the forthcoming UltraViolet virtual content locker which will enable users to purchase videos and play them back on complying different-brand devices. Set to launch this fall, UltraViolet will let consumers purchase movies and TV shows in a variety of formats from a wide array of outlets. It will combine Cloud access with an open standard for multiple content services to work interchangeably with software titles. For example, a Blu-ray disc could be viewed on a mobile device at no extra charge, with all DRM handled automatically in the background. The UltraViolet format is designed to be used for both downloads and streaming video among multiple brands of registered apps and devices.
ATSC 3.0 Now in Planning Stages – Recently we reported on the planning for a new video aspect ratio of 21:9. Now we learn that although the transition to DTV happened not long ago, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is already looking for its replacement with ATSC v3.0. (We currently have ATSC 2.0, which was standardized from a slew of competing proposals.) The committee’s president stated it is “a long-term project that paves the way for futuristic terrestrial television broadcasting technologies.” Since it will likely be incompatible with current telecast systems, it must provide improvements in performance, functionality and efficiency that are significant enough to warrant its implementation. Interoperability with production systems and non-broadcast distribution will also be considered by the new technology group. The ATSC 3.0 technology group is known as “TG3” and includes chairs from Samsung and PBS.
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