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Bringing the "Voice of God" to TV audio

Published: 21 Nov 2012

The addition of speaker channels above the familiar 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound array can recreate an exceptionally lifelike ambient soundfield, and enables much more accurate localization of aerial objects, such as helicopters. Although surround sound has taken an evolutionary step over the past decade by adding a “height” component to the traditional horizontal configuration of loudspeakers, more recent advances in 3D video have led to the emergence of a variety of 3D sound schemes. But for some, 3D sound is a misnomer: “I think ‘immersive’ is a good way of looking at it,” said Jeff Levison, vice president of cinema and entertainment systems with Iosono, a provider of 3D audio technology, at the recent AES Convention in San Francisco. As Wieslaw Woszczyk, James McGill professor, director, recording studios, at Montreal’s McGill University, noted during one session, height is not a new thing. “Probably the best surround sound with height experience was with the cavemen; imagine spaces that were naturally shaped that provided sound from above and below,” he said, also noting that the dome of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, completed in 537 CE, “has natural amplification of sound coming from above.”

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