So What Exactly is Dolby Digital?
So you've got a nice home theater system with the little Dolby Digital logo but have no idea what it means? Well, Digital Home Canada has a nice little article that explains Dolby Digital:
One of the most exciting things about watching a movie in your home theatre is the tremendous impact of surround sound. A great sound system brings a movie to life and gives you the feeling of being right in the middle of the action.
The company synonymous with home theatre surround sound in North America is Dolby Laboratories. The proliferation of Dolby Digital surround sound formats, however, has led to considerable confusion amongst our readers therefore this article gives a brief overview of Dolby surround sound and various Dolby Digital (DD) technologies such as Dolby Digital EX, Plus, Live and Cinema.
The article gives definitions for several different types of Dolby:
A common question when discussing DD is the term AC-3. AC-3 is the technical name for the digital decoding technology upon which Dolby Digital is based and the terms are often used interchangeably. For trademark purposes, Dolby now refers to AC-3 by its trademarked name, Dolby Digital.
A common misperception about Dolby Digital is that it delivers six channels sound. DD is actually a flexible format that can deliver mono, stereo, or up to 5.1 discrete channels of surround sound: Left, Center, Right, Left Surround, Right Surround, and low-frequency effects (LFE).
Dolby Digital EX
Dolby Digital EX extends the DD 5.1-channel setup a step further with an additional center surround channel (reproduced through one or two speakers) which is usually place to the rear of listeners. You may also see this referred to as DD 6.1 or 7.1 when discussing home theatre. Films released in Dolby Digital Surround EX (the cinema version) carry the encoded extra surround channel in their subsequent DVD releases, as well as onto 5.1-channel digital satellite and TV broadcasts.
To playback Dolby Digital EX you will need a 6.1 or 7.1 receiver or preamp/processor and additional rear speakers. Current DD Surround EX soundtracks contain a digital flag that automatically activates the EX decoding however for titles released prior to late 2001 you will need to turn on the EX decoding manually.
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Posted by William Hungerford at August 4, 2006 7:32 AM