It’s no secret that today there are multiple immersive sound formats—audio technologies that add a height layer to a traditional surround sound environment—coexisting today. You have Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and our own format, Auro-3D.
Each take a different approach but the mainstay commonality between them is the addition of height—and Auro was the first to introduce this in October 2010, bringing an end-to-end solution to the table for immersive audio, which can be more simply defined as surround sound with height. The addition of height adds an extra dimension of sound to the entertainment experience—whether it’s a movie, music from your favorite artist or a new video game release—that makes the experience feel more immersive.
But, as we have seen in the past across other technologies, differing formats can be difficult for the industry, and its customers, to initially grapple with, creating confusion amongst consumers. Customers on the market have to choose a home cinema set up following requirements from Dolby Atmos, DTS:X or Auro-3D. They’re looking for the best format playback systems but truly only care about one thing—ensuring that their home entertainment setup is aptly equipped to playback content.
Immersive audio is exploding, and we need to ensure from a content creation standpoint that regardless of what format any given material is encoded with, the consumer can enjoy it on whatever system they have set up for immersive audio.
The onus is on Auro, Dolby and DTS to design a framework of backwards compatibility. If someone listens to material mixed in Dolby Atmos, it’s critical that that content still plays back on an Auro-3D setup and sounds satisfactorily—and the same goes for the vice versa. We don’t want to pigeonhole consumers into investing in one setup that only supports one format—doing so will only cause further fragmentation in the industry. It’ll also create a roadblock for creators to make their work available across multiple immersive audio formats—because at that stage, what’s the point if only a certain sect of customers can fully enjoy it?
For instance, home entertainment enthusiasts with an Auro-3D layout can playback Dolby Atmos and DTS:X mixed content with little-to-no loss in quality. We don’t lock our customers into only being able to enjoy our setup with content mixed in Auro-3D—Dolby and DTS should take note.
If we want to make our customer base happy, we need to collectively ensure that they’re able to enjoy their content with no extra fiddling. They shouldn’t have to worry about one setup supporting one format but not another—we should.
Wilfried Van Baelen is CEO and founder of Auro Technologies.