Dolby Surround 7.1 outed with improved rear 3D sound placement

Dolby have announced Dolby Surround 7.1, an 8-channel surround sound audio system that's intended to better support both traditional 2D and newer 3D content.  Integral to the new system is the introduction of two new audio zones – Back Surround Left and Back Surround Right – which, in tandem with the existing front two zones, should make for more impressive 360-degree surround effects.

Unlike existing 7.1 systems, which use two rear speakers but each fed with the same channel, Dolby's new setup will have two different channels for each.  For movie makers like Disney and Pixar, who Dolby have partnered with to demonstrate Dolby Surround 7.1, it means an increased ability to position sound in theatres.  Of course, we'll have to wait for those theatres to actually roll it out first; no word on how expensive the upgrade might be, or what sort of timescale we're looking at.

Press Release:

Dolby Unveils Dolby Surround 7.1 at ShoWest 2010

Dolby Works with Disney and Pixar to Create a New Audio Experience for Digital Cinema Audiences and Exhibitors

LAS VEGAS, Mar 16, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — At ShoWest 2010, Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB), announced it is working with Walt Disney Pictures(R) and Pixar(R) Animation Studios to deliver a new audio format, Dolby(R) Surround 7.1. Disney(R) and Pixar have stated that Dolby Surround 7.1 will be launched in select theatres with the release of Toy Story(R) 3 in 3D this June.

"For 40 years Dolby has not only provided content creators with the tools to create a more realistic audio experience, but has also enabled the exhibitor to deliver audiences the ability to experience the content as the creator intended," said Page Haun, Senior Director, Marketing, Cinema Market Segment, Dolby Laboratories. "The release of Toy Story 3 in a discrete 7.1 mix will raise the bar for movie theatre owners and their patrons."

Dolby Surround 7.1 brings a more exciting sensory experience to audiences for 2D and gives content creators control over audio placement in a theatre when mixing 3D movies. The ability to compose audio with visual elements of 3D allows content creators to immerse the audience deeper into the movie with dramatic realism.

Dolby Surround 7.1 provides content creators four surround zones to better orchestrate audio channels in a movie theatre environment. The four surround zones incorporate the traditional Left Surround and Right Surround with new Back Surround Left and Back Surround Right zones. The addition of the two Back Surround zones enhances directionality in panning 360 degrees around the theatre.

Dolby Surround 7.1 format comprises 8 channels of audio and has the following channel layout: Left, Center, Right, Low-Frequency Effects (LFE), Left Surround, Right Surround, Back Surround Left (new), and Back Surround Right (new). In order for exhibitors to deliver the new format, Dolby will be providing Dolby Surround 7.1 playback capabilities in the Dolby CP650 and Dolby CP750 digital cinema audio processor lines.

At ShoWest, Dolby is demonstrating to exhibitors a discrete 7.1 mixed demo reel of past Pixar movies to showcase the advanced audio solution. After the show, exhibitors will be able to access the content to test and demonstrate in their theatres.

Exhibitors interested in learning more about Dolby Surround 7.1 should contact their nearest Dolby reseller or Dolby sales office.