MP3 Format Goes 5.1-Channel  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

While electronics titans like Sony and Samsung have massive booths and endless product lines to flaunt at CES, Fraunhofer's booth was tucked away modestly into the North Hall.

There is nothing modest about the company's technological achievements, however – the Fraunhofer Institute is responsible for developing the now ubiquitous MP3 codec, as well as the AAC codec used by Apple in its iTunes Store. PCMag was treated to a demo –

inside a 5.1-equipped car parked on Fraunhofer's booth square – of the institute's latest codec: MPEG Surround.

Until now, there hasn't been a very feasible method for getting true 5.1 surround sound to fit onto a reasonably-sized file. MPEG Surround, which is an audio codec that can also be used in conjunction with a video codec like H.264, brings true 5.1 surround to the realm of the iPod. While regular stereo headphones cannot play back true 5.1, the interesting thing about MPEG Surround is that it can detect what type of output it is using – surround sound or stereo – and adjust accordingly.

If you are listening on your stereo headphones, you will get the standard stereo mix of the song; plug the iPod into a dock that has a built-in decoder for MPEG Surround, and the exact same file will now play in nearly flawless 5.1. It was virtually impossible to hear the difference between MPEG Surround – which uses "parameters" to guide the appropriate audio to respective channels rather than carry all of the 5.1 information – and the original surround sound recordings of several different demos, from Beethoven to Pink Floyd.

Matthias Rose, head of marketing for Fraunhofer's audio and multimedia department, explained that most of the "Big Four" record labels have back catalogs, several thousands of recordings deep, of surround-sound material ready to go The issue has always been finding a standard that works in terms of size and ease of use.  (full Story)

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This entry was posted on Feb 1, 2009 at 11:38 PM and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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