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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » The Afterlife   » DTS announces DTS:X Object-Based Codec (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: DTS announces DTS:X Object-Based Codec
Daniel Schulz
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 - posted 12-31-2014 03:55 PM      Profile for Daniel Schulz   Author's Homepage   Email Daniel Schulz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
DTS launching their answer to Dolby Atmos for home theatre:

DTS Announces DTS:X Object-Based Audio Codec for March 2015 with Support from Onkyo, Denon, Pioneer & More

The company's latest audio tech is poised to compete with Dolby Atmos.

DTS has officially revealed its own object-based audio technology. Dubbed DTS:X, the new codec will launch in March of next year and will serve as the next-generation successor to DTS-HD Master Audio.

"DTS was founded with the goal of making the world sound better through constant innovation. DTS:X is a result of years of cutting-edge development in the area of object-based audio and reflects our continued commitment to provide listeners with incredible immersive audio experiences," said Jon Kirchner, Chairman and CEO of DTS, Inc. "Through incorporating DTS:X technology into a wide range of home AVR products, our partners will take the listening experience to another level. I look forward to sharing further details at the official DTS:X launch in March."

Leading audio manufacturers including Anthem, Denon, Integra, Krell, Marantz, McIntosh, Onkyo, Outlaw Audio, Pioneer, Steinway Lyngdorf, Theta Digital, Trinnov Audio, and Yamaha have all signed on to release products that support DTS:X in 2015. Full details on the codec have not been announced yet, but the audio platform uses object-based mixing technology like Dolby's competing Atmos codec and will likely offer similar features and performance.

DTS:X is expected to launch in March 2015. More information will be revealed at that time.
http: //www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/DTS/dtsx/objectbased/audio/codecs/Dolby/Atmos/dtshd-master-audio/Surround_Sound/Release_Dates/dts-announces-dtsx-objectbased-audio-codec-for-march-2015-with-support-from-onkyo-denon-pioneer-more/20275

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Bobby Henderson
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Does the DTS:X home theater audio format carry technology similar to the developing DTS Open MDA standard for movie theaters?

What kind of speaker layouts is DTS:X going to propose? Will it be similar (and compatible with) a home Atmos speaker setup? Or will is propose an entirely different speaker layout like what Auro 3D uses?

I'm wondering if DTS:X and DTS Open MDA, in addition to Barco buying out Iosono will all add up to something that will serve as a true next-generation sound upgrade for all those theaters installing Auro 11.1 systems.

The current implementation of Auro, which is going into a lot of Cinemark XD theaters, is arguably deficient in surround coverage given there is no 7.1 channel "base" to provide discrete back wall surround coverage. Carmike is building a decent number of "Big D" branded premium screens, all wired with 7.1 capable sound systems (and touting 4-way QSC stage speaker setups). But Carmike's Big D concept is leaning toward Auro, which would dump the 7.1 base down to mere 5.1.

Anyway, Auro is just an elaboration on conventional 5.1 channel based audio. DTS:X and DTS Open MDA could be a proper upgrade.

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Daniel Schulz
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quote: Bobby Henderson
Does the DTS:X home theater audio format carry technology similar to the developing DTS Open MDA standard for movie theaters?
My understanding is that DTS:X is the consumer-facing renderer for MDA files. This is why DTS wants/needs the cinema industry to adopt MDA, so that they have content mixed in an object-based format that can then be ported to a consumer format and decoded. Much as Dolby launched Atmos in the cinema, providing a library of material with Atmos mixes that can be ported to the home theater version of Atmos on Blu Ray.

quote: Bobby Henderson
What kind of speaker layouts is DTS:X going to propose? Will it be similar (and compatible with) a home Atmos speaker setup? Or will is propose an entirely different speaker layout like what Auro 3D uses?
MDA will support any speaker configuration, mapping the object-based mix to the available speakers.

That said, practical realities imply variations on the 5.1 and 7.1 setups that we are all familiar with, and DTS has indicated that the same layouts being utilized by Dolby Atmos for home theater will be supported by DTS:X.

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Jonathan Goeldner
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I wonder what studios will support this and release product as such - I'm looking directly at Disney and Fox specifically.

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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I think we will see DTS-X get more support/titles than the Dolby Atmos-lite format will get for the home. But there are some serious challenges for both formats as the average home viewer does not about surround sound and receivers in this day and age. Small sound bars and slick set ups are what people want.

Another thing is the ridiculous cost it takes to do Atmos at home, I am sure DTS-X will be just as expensive to implement but I really don't think people want ugly speakers on the roof nor do they really want bouncing sound technology. I am keeping my fingers crossed that DTS-X does not have those stupid bounce speakers that Atmos is claiming to be as good as the theatrical experience, at least they could of changed the name for the Atmos system at home [Razz]

I think the days of home theaters that mimic a traditional movie theater are over, there will be the fan boys who still do it but I can't see too many regular folks adding height speakers or even worse Atmos enabled bounce speakers to their living rooms.

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Marcel Birgelen
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Personally, I think it’s great to have some competition in the multi-dimensional object based audio formats. It’s a bit of a pity it isn’t an entirely open format, but I guess that’s where the beef is at nowadays for DTS.

Is there any chance we’ll see this being supported by e.g. the Datasat AP20 in the near future? I’m aware this is not intended to be a format distributed on DCP releases, but since alternative content in the form of Blu-Ray regularly makes its way into theatrical presentations, it will sure be an interesting and competitive feature.

quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
Another thing is the ridiculous cost it takes to do Atmos at home, I am sure DTS-X will be just as expensive to implement but I really don't think people want ugly speakers on the roof nor do they really want bouncing sound technology. I am keeping my fingers crossed that DTS-X does not have those stupid bounce speakers that Atmos is claiming to be as good as the theatrical experience, at least they could of changed the name for the Atmos system at home
You don’t really seem to get the concept of object based audio formats, do you? Or you’re ignoring it on purpose, but it has to be one of the two. The whole idea is to go single inventory and not be limited by the amount of speakers in a particular setup, not now and not in the future. Although it entirely beats the purpose of multi-dimensional audio, you could do Atmos and probably DTS-X with just a single speaker.

And what ridiculous costs? You’re making fun of Atmos being available on a tablet in another topic. I recently upgraded my brothers AVR and now he also has Atmos... Upgrade costs: Zero. I'm not entirely sure how they account for the licensing in regards to Dolby, but it was just a software upgrade, available for free. I expect all mid- and high-end market AVRs to do Atmos within a year or so... Does he have speakers on the ceiling? No. Does his AVR even have the channels for it? Probably not, or you would have to trade in another channel. What does he have? A simple but decent 5.1 setup. But he now can play Atmos soundtracks too. Does it really improve on a good 5.1 or down mixed 7.1 mix in any other lossless format supported by the AVR? No, it doesn’t, at least not for the only mix we could try...

Maybe there will be a DTS-X upgrade in it for him too down the road, who knows.

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Steve Guttag
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Yeah...I get having competition on sound keeps costs down (and innovation up). However, in our little industry, competing sound formats merely cost more money and confusion. This has been borne out in most every sound format we have had from vitaphone/optical on out.

I don't really like open-architecture for our industry too much unless some trusted entity effectively "owns" it. For instance...we have Linux in most DCinema products but the various companies effectively "own" their implementation of it. We don't have to worry at all about "updating the Linux" part of it...that is the OEM's problem to worry or not worry about. They are purpose-built boxes.

What has worked out better for our industry is to quickly adopt formats and standardize on them. People then can not waste a lot of time/money on duplicating systems or worrying about longevity too much. What really sucks is when a studio aligns themselves with a particular/competing format...witness the Dolby/DTS/SDDS debacle of the '90s. Oh its Universal...gotta have DTS to run Jurassic Park. Got a Disney movie? Gotta get Dolby. Columbia/Tristar? Well that will be SDDS. That was just crazy and expensive. I think Odyssey Products STILL lists their roll around rack solutions to allow a single theatre to have multiple types of digital processors to roll into whichever screen needed them. Once all studios carried all digital formats...SDDS quickly started to die away DTS and Dolby continued. DTS still had lowest cost, easy to implement but those pesky discs coming in (undamaged) became an increasing problem while Dolby could be counted on for just about every feature and normally worked...If I'm not mistaken, once quad-track was everywhere...Dolby became the clear "winner" but it didn't box out DTS since the SAME software (film) would work in a company that preferred DTS (or SDDS).

With Atmos versus MDA...I see another silly fight coming on. At least in the home market, the "solution" has been that all home receivers have been able to deal with both Dolby and DTS so the consumer doesn't have to participate in the "fight". That is between the technology companies and the studios to decide who gets paid for what technology on what title. In the home Dolby won the DVD battle but DTS is way ahead in Blu-Ray. Which makes it a pain in the but for those running Blu-Rays in cinemas if you want the high-bandwidth audio (Master Audio or True-HD). Datasat will give your Master Audio but only AC-3 instead of True-HD...Dolby (on the CP850) will give your True-HD but only a Pro-Logic decode of a LPCM track for DTS...or if your player will do the decode, discrete LPCM. Just about all other processors (CP750, JSD60, JSD100, CP650, JSD80) only deal with low bandwidth audio (AC3 or DTS Core) with Dolby brand processors not playing even DTS Core audio.

We don't need this in the "immersive" audio formats. Lets pick one and go with it. What is even worse with immersive audio is the market slice is SOOOO small...even for the consumer if you are talking about a proper system that actually has all of the channels. I can also guarantee you that the smaller the screen is...the less anyone buying the stuff cares about "immersive" audio. Sure, you could put Atmos on a phone or iPod...but who cares? Nobody is going to buy it because it has that.

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Mike Blakesley
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I have long wondered what the ratio is of types of sound systems on home TV setups.

- Just using the speakers in the TV
- TV speakers + added speakers but with no surround
- TV speakers + a Home Theater In A Box with soundbar and reflective surround
- Separate system with 5.1 (or better) surround sound

We've got the first option for our bedroom TV (which is usually watched with the sound way down since my wife is often sleeping when I'm watching) and the second option for our "main" TV. No subwoofer necessary there because I've got that one hooked up to some Akai speakers from the 70s that sound just fine. We don't watch many movies at home so there's no need for the surround sound. I realize we're not exactly a "normal" family in all of this, but I still wonder how the numbers would shake out among the general populace.

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Jonathan Goeldner
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question: aren't Atmos mixes exclusive to Dolby? wouldn't that negate any one from using the stems or audio design to port over to DTS' system?

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Terry Lynn-Stevens
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quote: Mike Blakesley
I have long wondered what the ratio is of types of sound systems on home TV setups.

- Just using the speakers in the TV
- TV speakers + added speakers but with no surround
- TV speakers + a Home Theater In A Box with soundbar and reflective surround
- Separate system with 5.1 (or better) surround sound

I would say flat screen TV with soundbar is the most prevalent set-up after just the TV with the build in speakers.

quote: Jonathan Goeldner
question: aren't Atmos mixes exclusive to Dolby? wouldn't that negate any one from using the stems or audio design to port over to DTS' system?
To play back the sound mix you need an Atmos receiver in the cinema or at home, but the studio would make an Atmos mix and then fold it down to 7.1 or 5.1 etc etc.

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Marcel Birgelen
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quote: Steve Guttag
We don't need this in the "immersive" audio formats. Lets pick one and go with it. What is even worse with immersive audio is the market slice is SOOOO small...even for the consumer if you are talking about a proper system that actually has all of the channels. I can also guarantee you that the smaller the screen is...the less anyone buying the stuff cares about "immersive" audio. Sure, you could put Atmos on a phone or iPod...but who cares? Nobody is going to buy it because it has that.
I agree with you that we, as both consumers and in the professional market like the cinema, don’t really want all those different formats. I guess most of the content producers also aren’t keen in an ever-growing mix of formats. Although if they keep their mixes in “object based” master formats, it’s mostly just another checkbox in the export process. In my opinion, the open LPCM standard for DCI compliant distributions in DCP format was a step forward in regards to all those other multi-channel formats that established themselves over the years. I expect something similar happening down the road with those new "immersive" formats, once it has become a commodity rather than a novelty.

The average home user already has a hard time figuring out all those different formats. While many will probably know by now that Dolby Digital has something to do with surround sound, do we really expect them to know the difference between Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby ProLogic IIx or IIz, DTS ES, DTS Neo:6 or DTS HD Master Audio… just to name a FEW of those many formats and variations out there? And although the transition between those formats is in many cases rather seamless and stuff mostly figures it out themselves, most of those users aren’t really getting any of the specific benefits of those formats anyway.
The problem obviously is, both DTS and Dolby make most or at least a considerable amount of their revenue by selling licenses to those closed formats and are thus competing with each other in exactly this field. Unlike e.g. Audissey and Dirac, they get their bucks from the actual delivery formats and not from some add-on technology which is largely format independent. So, unless both DTS and Dolby find another business model, I'm afraid we’re stuck with this war of audio formats.

Still, the only way of getting the costs down for those formats is some form of competition. There's no reason whatsoever for Dolby to drastically reduce their pricing for Atmos in the cinema, if there is just no serious competitor. Right now, the price of Atmos for anything but the home cinema, is not worth the added benefits for all but the most exclusive auditoria.

quote: Jonathan Goeldner
question: aren't Atmos mixes exclusive to Dolby? wouldn't that negate any one from using the stems or audio design to port over to DTS' system?
Many recent master mixes are created in an object based master format, not specifically bound to Atmos. In an ideal world, once you finished your mix you just export it to the delivery formats supported for your release, like the many multi-channel audio formats available and the now upcoming “immersive” formats.
But it’s still not like every new format comes for free. If you want to do your job right, you need to test every different audio format you’re going to support and in some cases you might even want to tweak specific aspects of a mix for a particular delivery format.

quote: Mike Blakesley
We've got the first option for our bedroom TV (which is usually watched with the sound way down since my wife is often sleeping when I'm watching) and the second option for our "main" TV. No subwoofer necessary there because I've got that one hooked up to some Akai speakers from the 70s that sound just fine. We don't watch many movies at home so there's no need for the surround sound. I realize we're not exactly a "normal" family in all of this, but I still wonder how the numbers would shake out among the general populace.
Amongst the people I know it's Flat TV, basic 5.1 setup and lately sound bars are creeping in. Some of those systems support stuff like "virtual surround".

Most average consumers don't really care all to much about those fancy new formats. For the Panasonics, Sonys, Samsungs and LGs of this world, it's also often just another sticker to add to the line of products. A way to try to convince some users to upgrade to the "latest and best". In the eventual race to the bottom, many of those things become a more or less defacto standard.

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Marcel Birgelen
And what ridiculous costs? You’re making fun of Atmos being available on a tablet in another topic. I recently upgraded my brothers AVR and now he also has Atmos... Upgrade costs: Zero. I'm not entirely sure how they account for the licensing in regards to Dolby, but it was just a software upgrade, available for free. I expect all mid- and high-end market AVRs to do Atmos within a year or so... Does he have speakers on the ceiling? No. Does his AVR even have the channels for it? Probably not, or you would have to trade in another channel. What does he have? A simple but decent 5.1 setup. But he now can play Atmos soundtracks too. Does it really improve on a good 5.1 or down mixed 7.1 mix in any other lossless format supported by the AVR? No, it doesn’t, at least not for the only mix we could try...
Why even bother firmware updating an Atmos decoding feature into a surround sound receiver if it doesn't have the extra speaker outputs to honestly accommodate it? It's a waste of time adding that into a 5.1 or 7.1 only receiver. What kind of extra Atmos stuff is going to be pumped into the base 5.1 or 7.1 channels?.

Additionally, Dolby Atmos tracks on Blu-ray are embedded into a Dolby TrueHD track that will play on any Blu-ray player. So anyone with a standard home theater setup or just listening via a sound bar or TV speakers will be able to hear the movie audio. It just won't be spread out in the manner of Atmos playback. It will be downmixed instead.

I would expect DTS to take the same approach with DTS:X, embedding the object oriented data into a DTS-HD Master Audio base track (which also contains backward compatible lossy DTS data).

quote: Steve Guttag
We don't need this in the "immersive" audio formats. Lets pick one and go with it. What is even worse with immersive audio is the market slice is SOOOO small...even for the consumer if you are talking about a proper system that actually has all of the channels.
Wasn't one of the goals of DTS' Open MDA system to be able to render object-based and/or channel-based mixes for any of the new surround sound formats (Atmos, Auro, MDA)?

It would be much better for sound mixers and editors if they only needed one plug-in for Pro Tools that could output mixes in all those formats. Currently, Atmos and Auro mixes have to be generated in different pieces of software. Dolby's Atmos plug-in requires a Mac-based Pro Tools setup; they don't have a Windows version available. This kind of gets back to why DTS-HD Master Audio is so dominant on Blu-ray. All Hollywood studio Blu-ray movie discs are authored in Windows-based. It's easier to encode DTS-HD tracks and stay within one operating system rather than have to bounce back and forth between Mac and PC to encode a Dolby TrueHD track. Plus, DTS' Master Audio encoding software is a LOT less expensive than Dolby's.

If a single "front end" plug-in can be developed by DTS, ProTools or whoever it might result in more object oriented mixes being created. And it would allow movie theaters to make their own choice on which next gen audio system to install if they want to do so.

In the end, I think it's a little late for next generation surround being delivered in just one format.

quote: Jonathan Goeldner
question: aren't Atmos mixes exclusive to Dolby? wouldn't that negate any one from using the stems or audio design to port over to DTS' system?
Movie sound layouts are object-based, but Dolby's Atmos-plug in sits on top of that, creating its own format-specific 3D sound panning data. As far as I can tell (looking through Dolby's PDF documents) there isn't any way to export Atmos data into other formats. But, perhaps in the interest of encouraging growth in next-gen surround, maybe DTS and Dolby ought to work together, creating audio export features for opposing formats from their own software plug-ins.

quote: Terry Lynn-Stevens
I would say flat screen TV with soundbar is the most prevalent set-up after just the TV with the build in speakers.
Can you cite a market study or some other reliable source for that claim? Or are you just guessing?

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Marcel Birgelen
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quote: Bobby Henderson
Why even bother firmware updating an Atmos decoding feature into a surround sound receiver if it doesn't have the extra speaker outputs to honestly accommodate it? It's a waste of time adding that into a 5.1 or 7.1 only receiver. What kind of extra Atmos stuff is going to be pumped into the base 5.1 or 7.1 channels?.
First off all, it was purely out of curiosity and to have some kind of empirical data if an Atmos (consumer) mix rendered on the same hardware sounds in any way different than a 5.1 or 7.1 mix with the same channel layout.

Secondly, you should get rid of the notion that any of those MDA formats are solely useful on systems with a boatload of playback channels. An open MDA format could easily replace all the other mixes on a future release. I guess that would be an improvement and that’s also why it makes sense for your decoder being capable of decoding those formats, even if it doesn’t really improve on a 5.1 or 7.1 discrete channel mix.

You can remap channels if you want. So, for example you could use the rear surround speaker channels as overhead speaker channels. In theory, the mix should also map better to your actual speaker layout without a large part of the “magic” of stuff like Audissey and or Dirac Room Correction, as almost nobody is able to put their speakers in the exact optimal position. The end result should, in theory, outperform a standard 5.1 or 7.1 mix.

It’s all just theory though, if it really produces some noticeable improvements is hard to tell. We only had the latest Transformers Blu-Ray and a few of those Atmos trailers to test it. Your ears are rather subjective things, so if it really makes a difference is rather hard to tell. Both mixes sounded a little different on this hardware, but it’s hard to say the one is better than the other.

quote: Bobby Henderson
Movie sound layouts are object-based, but Dolby's Atmos-plug in sits on top of that, creating its own format-specific 3D sound panning data. As far as I can tell (looking through Dolby's PDF documents) there isn't any way to export Atmos data into other formats. But, perhaps in the interest of encouraging growth in next-gen surround, maybe DTS and Dolby ought to work together, creating audio export features for opposing formats from their own software plug-ins.
I'm sure nobody is going to do away their master source files and DTS:X will get a Pro Tools plug-in just like Dolby Atmos. For many productions it will just be another export.

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Harold Hallikainen
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I wonder what the MDA.X bitstream looks like. The MDA breaks audio objects into packets with one or more per frame. The packet includes the sound location in spherical coordinates, other meta data, and the waveform file for that packet. A singe frame could have hundreds of these packets (separate objects or slices of moving objects at different positions, "render excepted" sound that goes to specific speakers, etc.). This takes a fair amount of bandwidth (though nothing compared to video). Also, on playback, the object slices have to be panned to the appropriate speakers, all the audio for that speaker summed, etc. I wonder how DTS.X and home ATMOS bitsreams differ from the cinema versions.

Harold

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Marcel Birgelen
I'm sure nobody is going to do away their master source files and DTS:X will get a Pro Tools plug-in just like Dolby Atmos. For many productions it will just be another export.
The problem is audio editors and mixers will have to fart around with four or even more audio object panning plug-ins after creating their standard 5.1 or 7.1 mix. They'll have to build an Atmos mix within the Atmos front end. Then they'll have to build a DTS MDA/DTS:X layout in that plug-in. Same goes for Auro. And then there's the 12-channel thing IMAX is looking to deploy. Sound designers don't have time for all that crap. They hardly have enough time in their insanely cramped post production schedules to build a proper 5.1 or 7.1 mix.

Obviously the thing that needs to happen is the makers of Pro Tools and other professional level audio editing applications need to build the 3D sound layout features into the core parts of their applications. The capability shouldn't be confined to a collection of 3rd party plug-ins. It should be an another sound layout option in addition to the standard mono, stereo, 5.1 and 7.1. Exporting to Atmos, DTS MDA, Auro and IMAX should amount to nothing more than a few button clicks.

quote: Marcel Birgelen
Secondly, you should get rid of the notion that any of those MDA formats are solely useful on systems with a boatload of playback channels.
When it comes to 3D audio a greater number of individually amplified speakers will yield a more precise 3D audio image. It's not any different in principal to more pixels yielding a more detailed visual image.

While it may be possible for someone to tailor object-based sound playback to their specific speaker setup, even if they're missing a lot of basic elements such as rear surround speakers, the listener is still going to need enough speakers installed in the right positions to have convincing 3D audio playback. Plus, if he's lacking certain basic surround speaker positions he'll have to make sure the receiver is able to "fold down" all the sound data intended for those positions back to other speakers. Otherwise it's going to be the same as having one or more sound channels going dead; you don't get to hear the audio meant for those positions at all.

I'm skeptical home theater equipment manufacturers will build the features needed into their receivers for end users to input what amounts to a 3D image of their home theater room and register the correct geometry of where each speaker is placed. Even if those features were built into the receiver I'm not all that convinced many end users would use those features. Even professional installers would very likely skip those parts just to save time (from the point of view the customer won't know the difference).

Basically I'm much more interested in 3D sound as it relates to commercial movie theater installations. That's really where it's going to be most important to get the job done right. I don't think all that many home users are going to be interested in wiring four or more speakers into their ceilings as well as installing all the additional side and back wall surround speakers. I love surround sound, but the idea of installing that kind of thing in my own living room sounds like a giant pain in the ass.

quote: Harold Hallikainen
A singe frame could have hundreds of these packets (separate objects or slices of moving objects at different positions, "render excepted" sound that goes to specific speakers, etc.). This takes a fair amount of bandwidth (though nothing compared to video).
Layouts for movie sound mixes, or mixes for music or other video projects, can get very big in terms of file size.

Some of that gets folded down a little for an Atmos mix. A bunch of the objects get flattened down into the stage channels or in the surround channel beds. Of the individual objects that are maintained, each lossless compressed 24-bit 48kHz object will consume about 500kb/s of bandwidth. Atmos can support as many as 128 of them at the same time, which comes out to 73 million bits per second. Obviously Atmos isn't going to do that all the time.

The home version of Atmos is a little more basic at this point. The home version will eventually support up to 32 speaker channels. But the first receivers and initial series of Blu-ray discs max out at the 7.1.4 level. The Dolby True HD track will contain the foundation 7.1 track and embedded Atmos metadata defines the objects to play either in the base level 7.1 speakers and/or the additional 2 or 4 speakers installed overhead.

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