Auro-3D® and home entertainment: the immersive sound revolution is already here!

By Wilfried Van Baelen

When we decided to bring Auro-3D® out of the cinema and into the home we were determined to get it right. We were determined to deliver true immersive 3D sound to the consumer. To be the first, but also to be the best. I’m incredibly proud that we at Auro Technologies have done exactly that, and I’d like to share with you a little of the magic that is behind Auro-3D®… as well as a few exciting plans for the future!

Immersive Sound can be described as “Surround Sound with Height”. It is adding the missing and final dimension in sound reproduction, something pioneered by our Auro-3D® format. We’ve used height layers in the cinema to create Auro 11.1 by Barco. And now we are bringing Auro-3D® to the home. In the same way.

We are the only company that has already launched immersive 3D sound products for the home cinema. The Auro-3D®Auriga™ is available right now, via our global network of distributors and resellers. I’m delighted to announce that another two receivers will soon be joining the range of top quality home cinema receivers. And we will also be licensing the Auro-3D® format for integration into the home cinema receivers made by many of your favorite manufacturers. Not to mention a few more surprises we have in store – like 3D immersive sound in your car, mobile, games console or even on headphones!

3D Immersive Sound is new, and it is exciting, but not everyone knows what it really means, or how to create it. So here are a few words of explanation.

Creating Auro-3D® Immersive sound

Producing 3D sound is the first challenge, and there are several options. You can record 3D sound natively by using Auro-3D rigs to capture 3D reflections, which gives the most natural results. Or you can use the 3-dimensional speaker layout to create a true 3D Sound in an artificial way. Both methods can sound very immersive. Auro-3D is also the only native recording format for true 3D Sound.

Then you need to deliver the 3D sound to the listener, and this is where the Auro-Codec® comes into play. The Auro-Codec® is the world’s first and only codec that achieves full quality and compatibility by embedding the data directly within the uncompressed audio domain. So that means that we can deliver immersive sound through a unique single file distribution. The beauty is that with this Codec you can have the 3D sound format and the regular 5.1 (2D) Surround format in a single file without compromising the quality, which is completely compatible with the existing Surround system. The distribution of the Auro-3D format is based on a groundbreaking new technology that allows the Auro-3D mix to be integrated in the standard delivery formats like the existing Blu-ray™ format, using your current Blu-ray™ player. No fuss, no new Blu-ray™ player needed, it’s all compatible.

The unique Auro-3D® Height Layer

Having delivered the 3D signal, you then need height to experience immersive 3D sound. This height layer of speakers is at the heart of the Auro-3D® format. It’s what delivers our 540° sound field – for true immersive sound.

Most real life sound sources and their 3D reflections originate between ear-level and about 45° height all around us. So adding additional channels as a second layer above a standard 5.1 or 7.1 speaker layout creates the most efficient way for a true 3D sound experience. This “vertical stereo field” in front and all around the listener is key for a true 3D immersive experience. Depending of the size and shape of the room, a third layer (Top Layer) can be added directly overhead – as we do in the cinema with Auro 11.1 by Barco.

So can you create 3D sound without a height layer of speakers? Currently available virtual surround systems try to fool our ears into thinking that sound is coming from beside or behind us. However, they are not comparable with a decent 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system, yet could the same principle create the illusion of height? The fact is that we have ears on the side of our head, and not one above the other! So it is really difficult to create this kind of acoustic localization in the vertical plane with similar techniques. For the best true 3D sound you need a layer of height speakers in front and around the listener. Trying to ‘bounce’ sound off walls or ceilings is a poor imitation, and won’t deliver the incredibly life-like and emotional impact of the Auro-3D® format.

Here comes the excitement – in film and music!

Of course, you need the content as well as the technology to experience 3D sound. We’ve already created Auro-3D® mixes of many blockbuster films, including this year’s hits like The Amazing Spiderman 2, and How to Train Your Dragon 2. They, and many others will be coming soon in 3D sound to Blu-ray™. And thanks to our Auro-Matic® upmixing technology, you can experience all of your existing film and music collection in rich, immersive 3D sound. Today. With no need to replace your collection with a new, incompatible format. Millions of music titles are available now in rich, immersive sound using our disruptive Auro-Matic™ technology which is a core part of the Auro-3D Engine in our AV Receivers.

Auro-3D® can reproduce immersive 3D audio for both films and music because Auro-3D is as well a native true 3D recording format. Auro Technologies is working closely with the industry to release music titles in Auro-3D®. For this purpose it has developed a range of professional audio tools which are made available for Auro-3D® production. Several labels will announce the release of Auro-3D® content very soon, including classical, jazz, pop rock, as well as popular music genres.

Auro-3D® is bringing the technology and the content – so that you can experience the most compelling, natural and enveloping sound experience.