MP3 builder expands surround sound
By Simon Aughton
Posted on 4 Jan 2006 at 11:04
The creators of MP3 have added new surround sound features to the audio compression format.
The Fraunhofer Institute has unveiled version two of MP3 Surround adding two new elements at the CES technology show in Las Vegas. MP3 SX (MP3 Stereo eXtended) enables the enhancement of MP3 stereo files for multi-channel playback while Ensonido provides portable MP3 Surround sound using stereo headphones.
MP3 SX is designed to provide playback with stable localisation of vocalists and solo instruments and to 'present the feeling of envelopment' by employing the ambient sounds already existing in the stereo recording.
Ensonido takes surround sound from the usual loudspeaker setup and squeezes it into a pair of headphones by using an acoustic model that simulates the transmission of multichannel sound from speakers to the ear.
MP3 Surround enables surround sound at bit rates comparable to those currently used to encode stereo MP3s. It is also backwards compatible so that an MP3-compatible device will play MP3 Surround as high quality stereo.
For more information go to www.iis.fraunhofer.de/amm where you can download evaluation versions of the upgraded MP3 Surround decoder with integrated Ensonido and the standalone MP3 SX converter for turning regular MP3 files into the surround format.
Work on MP3 Surround began 18 months ago followed by the first software release in December 2004. It is one of several ongoing Fraunhofer projects that include MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding, multi-channel audio for DAB radio and lossless audio encoding.
However there appears to be no current development of a DRM-enabled version of the MP3 format, despite a March 2004 report that French company Thomson, an MP3 technology licensee, was keen to offer content providers an alternative to the copy protected versions of AAC and WMA.
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