Lenovo netbooks get Dolby Headphone virtual surround sound

Chris Davies - Aug 18, 2009
Lenovo netbooks get Dolby Headphone virtual surround sound

Dolby have officially announced the Dolby Headphone “personal surround sound” system which we saw demonstrated on a VIA netbook back in July, and confirmed that the technology will be included on Lenovo’s IdeaPad S12 and S10-2 netbooks.  The system creates the illusion of 5.1 surround sound through stereo headphones by modeling the effect audio reflections off the walls and furnishings of a typical room would have on the listener’s ears.

That sort of modeling requires either a separate DSP chip or software, and it’s not entirely clear which Lenovo have added to their netbooks.  Still, the net result is that you can listen to audio through the S12 and S10-2’s 3.5mm headphone jack with standard headphones and hear virtual 5.1 surround, even if the original source is only stereo encoded.

Best of all, despite the improved audio quality there’s apparently negligible impact on battery life or processing grunt.  As well as the Lenovo netbooks there are several headphones that include the modeling DSP; more on those here.

Press Release:

Dolby Brings Surround Sound Experience to Netbook PCs

New Lenovo Netbooks Feature Dolby Headphone

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 17, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:DLB), showcased today the first netbook computers incorporating Dolby(R) Headphone technology. The new Lenovo(R) IdeaPad S12 and S10-2 are lightweight, ultraportable PCs that offer an equally enthralling surround sound experience as desktop or laptop PCs.

Dolby Headphone creates a personal surround sound experience through any set of headphones, allowing listeners to feel immersed in the entertainment. It creates up to five virtual speakers in a virtual room. This results in a more natural listening sensation, which improves listening comfort and prevents the listener fatigue that often accompanies typical headphone use. Dolby Headphone works with any PC audio source.

“Dolby is synonymous with rich, multichannel audio, and with Dolby Headphone, we’re proving that small portable products like the IdeaPad S12 and S10-2 netbooks need not sacrifice the entertainment experience for size,” said Mary Anderson, Marketing Director, PC Segment, Dolby Laboratories.

“In designing our new IdeaPad S10-2, Lenovo’s main objective was to provide the perfect balance of size, performance, and cost, and with Dolby Headphone, we’re confident that we are also able to deliver a full entertainment experience,” said Wei Jun, VP, Notebook Business Unit of Lenovo Idea Product Group. “The processing efficiency of Dolby Headphone allows the new IdeaPad S10-2 to process a rich surround sound experience without overburdening the processor and battery life.”

Dolby Headphone technology can be included in almost any product that incorporates a headphone output and can process stereo or multichannel audio, including portable DVD players, PCs, digital TVs, and wireless devices.

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