Dolby Digital has seen some enhancements over the years as it’s become the most common multichannel standard. But in the not-so-distant future it’s going to get a huge overhaul. At CES, Dolby gave Dolby Digital Plus its major debut, showing how it takes advantage of advances in storage, recording, optical density, and bandwidth.
News source: GameSpot Previously announced and briefly demoed at AES late last year, the new format has had enough time behind the scenes to gather industry support. It’s been named as a standard for the upcoming HD DVD format, though the forces behind the competing Blu-ray disc format have yet to make a similar announcement.
Dolby Digital Plus builds on the original Dolby Digital specifications, allowing for higher bit rates and more channels. Dolby Digital Plus has a maximum bit rate of 6Mbps, and support for 13.1 channels. In comparison, Dolby Digital caps out at 640Kbps and 5.1 channels–Dolby Digital Plus essentially provides ten times the bandwidth of the original Dolby Digital. The new format also allows for extremely low bit rate multi-channel sound for streaming on the web or over the air. The benefits of the Dolby Digital Plus codec include transient pre-noise processing, enhanced channel coupling, adaptive hybrid transform processing, and channel and program extensions.
Whereas the original Dolby Digital signal was sent over either optical or coaxial cables, Dolby Digital Plus uses the new HDMI connector. Content encoded with Plus will be backwards compatible, but the resulting sound won’t be as detailed.
Dolby couldn’t explicitly say if Dolby Digital Plus will be used on upcoming game consoles, leaving those announcements for the first-parties. But that may be the next logical step–if the bit rates are practical for real-time applications–given that the current generation supports Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II.
On another front, Dolby is bringing Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding to the masses. With Dolby Digital 5.1 Creator, you can create your own 5.1 mixes for home movies. This new feature was demonstrated at CES with the Sony DVD Handycam DCR-DVD403. Using a multi-channel microphone, the Handycam allows you to capture sounds from all directions and produce home movies with 5.1 sound.