MP3 developers promote new 3-D audio mixing/reproduction format

The Fraunhofer Institute for Media Technology, which co-developed the MP3 compressed music file format, showed a new 3-D audio system in Los Angeles this summer.

The IOSONO technology uses an array of up to 300 or 400 small speakers. Its complicated proprietary algorithm precisely places and moves sound elements across a 360-degree soundscape. Karlheinz Brandenburg, director of the Institute, along with a team of co-developers demonstrated the new technology at Todd-AO Studios. In attendance were representatives of Hollywood studios, including Disney.

During the demonstration, mixers used a light pen to specify exactly where sound sources came from, with the software making the calculations on the backend. A decoder in the theater would translate this into sounds that worked for the specific size and shape of the room.

Fraunhofer is providing licenses to the technology between $10,000 and $15,000. The technology will also require significant computing hardware, and a large array of speakers.

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