Q&A: Auro CEO on Sony Partnership, Relationships with Dealers, Dolby and DTS

It seems Auro Technologies has its arms outstretched, not only to the CE industry but to its end users and other immersive sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X as well.

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“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.”

That's something that Auro Technologies founder and CEO Wilfried Van Baelen said in a recent CE Pro article on how Audio, Dolby and DTS should work together.

It's a great sentiment, and Van Baelen is working on making it happen as Auro continues to expand in the pro cinema and home technology markets. CE Pro spoke to Van Baelen in depth about working with other immersive sound formats, dealers, end users and the home.

Q: Will the object-based surround-sound formats ever work in agreement?

A: Within the pro cinema market, good progress has been made about an interoperable standard for immersive sound (“Sound in 3D,” which is as such not related to the specific use of channel- or object-based technology).

We expect that next year there will be defined a standard that allows for all the immersive sound formats to be used as delivery format. From that moment on, probably most movies will be mixed in immersive sound and distributed as such, and played back over the different immersive sound systems in the market.

Regarding the consumer markets, both the delivery formats and the speaker layouts are pretty different. But since most A/V receivers on the market will soon play back each format, the only issue left is the install of the speaker layout.

What can electronics dealers and consumers expect from the newly announced partnership between Auro-3D and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment?

Our partnership with Sony means that electronics dealers and consumers can expect more options on major blockbuster films, produced by Sony, to support the Auro-3D format.

Dealers will be able to offer more options that bring a high-end service to a consumer market, no longer limiting their customers to Atmos or DTS:X.

Does Auro Technologies have programs in place to educate dealers?

Our programs to work closely with our dealer network are progressing every day and we are making efforts into getting not only close to our dealers, but also our end users … so that everybody understands how the addition of the missing third dimension in sound (height) is much more than just installing more speakers.

“We are making efforts into getting not only close to our dealers, but also our end users … so that everybody understands how the addition of the missing third dimension in sound (height) is much more than just installing more speakers.”

The vertical axis for our brain requires a completely different approach to many things compared to existing surround-sound formats.

More than 10 universities worldwide already have integrated the Auro-3D system, with hands-on trainings for their students.

There are many that believe Auro, Dolby and DTS are caught in the middle between the public and Hollywood. Do you agree with that?

I wouldn’t consider our position as “caught in the middle” but rather we are an emerging format that offers the industry — and our customers — a unique listening experience that creates the truest reproduction of sound available today.

A big competitive advantage of our technology is that no extra space on the Blu-ray disc is required on top of the surround-sound format.

Similar is also true for downloads … we deliver both artistic masters (surround mix and immersive mix) in just one file with the same size as a surround master (5.1/7.1).

Where does Auro stand on the setup of object-based immersive sound in the home?

Auro-3D has the most advanced object-based technology (called AuroMax) out there, that at least 20 individual speakers are required, which is definitely not typical for the average home.

We don’t need the use of object-based technology to add height. This flexibility is a key differentiator of our concept which has many advantages, not only during the [mixing] workflow but also because it delivers a much higher preservation of artistic intent.

Auro has announced music titles mixed in Auro-3D. Is the mixing process any different for music than movies, and what are a few of your favorite Auro titles?

Auro-3D is the only immersive sound format that can deliver high-resolution audio, which has been the industry-standard for studios for years, but we now see it coming to the consumer markets.

The mastering process is key to certain music. We can focus on creating music in its purest form by creating the most natural life-like experience (like classical music) or decide to experiment and have music translate creatively within the Auro-3D environment.

Magnificat by the label 2L, for example, shows Auro-3D in its most natural form, and BT’s Electronic Opus combines classical music with artificial electronic sounds.


Next: Home Theater Demo Guide: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D