Since ‘surround sound’ was introduced to home cinema, its approach has in essence not changed, arranging speakers to create a linear field of sound which is then directed at the audience.
A company with a history in commercial theatre and more recently making the move to the home market, Auro Technologies, has introduced Auro 3D, billed as nothing less than an audio revolution.
The demonstration took place at Genesis Technologies’ HQ as part of a product launch for the new Datasat LS10 home cinema processor which at this point is the only UK domestic product to be carrying the technology (along with Datasat’s other home cinema products including the flagship RS20i).
The Auro Technology team was out in force to underline just how important the company’s feels this new approach could and should be.
So what is Auro 3D?
Well basically it adds channels which allow sound to be delivered from special ‘height’ speakers in addition to the normal speakers found in a surround set up.
The idea is to create a 3D sound field that behaves much more naturally and mimics how we hear sound in the natural world.
Within an Auro 3D set up, sounds can come from in front, the side, behind and above as well as moving seamlessly through the sound felid.
However, there are obstacles to overcome in order to implement Auro 3D.
Installers need to leave behind the speaker configurations of the past and embrace a new way of setting up. Extra speakers to take advantage of the extra channels are of course needed.
Surround speakers and sub-woofer/s are placed around the listening area in the normal way, then the same configuration of ‘height’ speakers are placed high up on the walls and lastly for the full effect or the ‘Voice of God’ as the developers call it, a speaker is placed on the celling directly above the listening area.
So, implementing the new technology into a new theatre is no real problem, however for established projects, the speaker layout would need to be re-designed.
Installers could either see this as a problem or an opportunity to offer a new experience to all their existing customers.
Configurations that can take advantage of the new technology can come in 9.1, 10.1, 11.1 and 13.1.
What about content?
Of course all of this would be pretty futile if there was no content available with the Auro 3D algorithm.
However, the developers are confident on this score citing the release of 23 high profile movies into theatres and onto Blu-ray this year with as many as 45 more in the process of signing up.
Auro Technologies also points out that its approach can take legacy discs and give them an audio makeover to deliver an enhanced experience.
Not Auro 3D proper, but the company argues, still an improvement of what would be experienced through a normal Blu-ray and surround set up.
Taking a seat in the impressive ICE Cinema demonstration suite, home cinema supremo for Genesis Neil Davidson, put the new technology through its paces.
Some specially created audio content was used including a countryside scene with singing birds and tractors and a sequence where a helicopter flew overhead.
The demo also used a scene from WWII actioner Redtails.
CEPro Eu has to say the demo was impressive, with the sound feeling a lot less ‘forced’ particularly in busier scenes, creating a genuinely natural feel and very immersive experience.
The conclusion would have to be that Auro 3D is a genuine and significant step forward in audio technology, however this does not guarantee its success.
As we know in the AV world, nothing is simple, particularly where movie studio politics are involved, so there is many a slip between a technology that should be given a chance and one that actually gains wide-acceptance.
Auro Technologies points out that it feels confident it can get the industry on-side pointing to its deal with Barco in the pro cinema world to deliver the technology into 80 cinemas world-wide already with a further 300 installations confirmed.
The system has also been adopted by several post-production facilities, like Skywalker Sound and The Dub Stage.
However, there are competing technologies. Dolby Atmos also has plenty of titles and theatres (330 approximately) signed to its immersive format.
Auro 3D however, has beaten Dolby to release home orientated versions of its technology, so might have a slight edge there.
The future is never certain in AV, particularly when it comes to formats, however one thing is for sure – audio will at some point make the leap to a more immersive and natural approach.
More information: Auro Technologies +32 (0) 14 31 43 43, www.auro-3d.com