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Dolby Shows Off Dolby Digital Plus for Online Content
The surround sound codec creates a home theater experience on mobile devices — and it's now on more devices than ever.
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[Note: This sponsored interview was recorded at Streaming Media West 2012.] 

Dolby is all about providing an excellent audio experience, and at the recent Streaming Media West show in Los Angeles, it demonstrated what the Dolby Digital Plus surround sound audio codec adds to online entertainment.

Dolby's senior director of online services, John Griffin, sat down for a red carpet interview to explain why Dolby Digital Plus will soon be on more mobile devices than ever.

"Recently we announced a deal with Microsoft for Windows 8 and that's now just been launched into the market so application developers from Windows 8 whether they're developing a desktop mode application or a Windows 8 app can leverage the Dolby Digital Plus technology with Microsoft Media Foundation," Griffin said. "We've also as well just announced that we're supported in the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and so that's a great device that's just now released into the marketplace getting great reviews on the audio."

What's surprising about Dolby Digital Plus is that Dolby is able to deliver a vivid surround sound experience through the tiny speakers of a mobile device or through a pair of headphones.

"The Kindle Fire HD for example includes Dolby Digital Plus technology that will take the multi-channel stream being provided by the service and actually render it back to be delivered in immersive surround headphone experience if the user has on headphones," Griffin explained. "It also provides an immersive experience over speakers and provides some loudness management to ensure that dialogue is really intelligible and all the subtleties in the mix really come through even from a device such as this Kindle Fire HD here that is very thin with very small speakers."

For more on Dolby Digital Plus - and to experience it firsthand - watch the video below. Griffin plays a Dolby Digital Plus surround sound clips at the end.

Troy: Hi this is Troy Dreier, Senior Associate Editor for streamingmedia.com coming to you from the red carpet. I'm joined here with John Griffin, Senior Director, Online Services with Dolby. So John, tell me, what is Dolby's role in this streaming online entertainment ecosystem.

John: Yeah so Dolby works very closely with the entire ecosystem to ensure content can make it across these distribution channels to a range of different connected devices and preserve the quality of the audio all the way through. So we work with a lot of streaming providers who are migrating, have already migrated or are migrating to HD video and as part of that they want to offer premium multichannel surround sound as well. So our partners currently include Netflix, HBO Go, Best Buy CinemaNow, Dixon's Knowhow Movies, and in the U.K. Acetrak which is also in Europe, Apple with its iTunes service, Amazon with its instant video service, and a range of others. So what these services have in common is they don't want to compromise on the experience for their consumers and so Dolby technology is enabling them to deliver a true HD experience with immersive audio all the way through.

Troy: Fantastic, well Dolby is certainly the name consumers know. What is Dolby showing here at Streaming Media West?

John: Yeah, here at Streaming Media West we're updating some of our partners on some new developments we've done to ensure Dolby Digital Plus the technology that's primarily being adopted for online content and to show that it can be used in new delivery standards such as MPEG DASH so we've participated in a DASH panel earlier. We highlighted some of the work we've done to prepare test factors for MPEG DASH and technical specifications and our role with the DASH industry forum and of course being part of the DASH 264 profile to let partners know that we're ready to go with the latest streaming formats and our technology works elegantly within that.

Troy: So what new devices support Dolby Digital Plus?

John: So Dolby Digital Plus today is supported on around one billion consumer devices so it's really grown over the years. It provides online service providers very wide reach with this experience. It's supported across the Play Station 3, the XBOX 360, all Blu-ray players, the vast majority of connected TVs. And so a lot of online services have been using the technology for distribution to the living room, you know, the TV screen for quite some time. We've done a lot of work to enable technology on mobile devices as well and we've reached a few critical milestones in that regard. Recently we announced a deal with Microsoft for Windows 8 and that's now just been launched into the market so application developers from Windows 8 whether they're developing a desktop mode application or a Windows 8 app can leverage the Dolby Digital Plus technology with Microsoft Media Foundation. We've also as well just announced that we're supported in the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and so that's a great device that's just now released into the marketplace getting great reviews on the audio. And the role of Dolby on these devices is pretty unique. Of course a consumer can connect a Windows 8 machine or a Kindle Fire HD to a home theater system and as Dolby Digital Plus content is distributed to these devices they can get a traditional home theater surround sound experience. What's really compelling however is what Dolby Digital Plus can do for headphone and speaker playback. The Kindle Fire HD for example includes Dolby Digital Plus technology that will take the multi-channel stream being provided by the service and actually render it back to be delivered in immersive surround headphone experience if the user has on headphones. It also provides an immersive experience over speakers and provides some loudness management to ensure that dialogue is really intelligible and all the subtleties in the mix really come through even from a device such as this Kindle Fire HD here that is very thin with very small speakers. So the technology has been optimized particularly for multiscreen distribution so that as you send out Dolby Digital Plus content to a range of playback devices for different consumer use cases the playback solution will intelligently adapt that content to deliver the quality and the intended experience all the way through. So obviously the best demo is if we can bring in the audience up close and personal with the device, but we'll go to a clip that's encoded in Dolby Digital Plus and we'll show what's possible with this technology on this device over headphones so if your users have headphones on while they're watching this video they'll get a great experience...

Troy: That looked fantastic and sounded fantastic.

John: Thanks.

Troy: Thank you for joining me here on the red carpet, John.

John: Thanks, Troy.

Troy: And this is Troy Dreier coming to you from the red carpet at Streaming Media West.

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