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A Guide to Multi-Channel Surround Sound

Dolby Sound Formats

Dolby Sound Systems are synonymous with surround. To many, Dolby is the king of surround sound, yet very few home users have a real understanding of the different Dolby audio formats available on most home theater receivers.

Help is on the way! We take a look at the different multi-channel audio formats available from the king of surround - from Dolby Surround to Dolby Virtual Speaker, and the latest HD audio formats designed to match the picture quality on HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc players.


Dolby Virtual Surround Sound Technology


Dolby Headphone
Dolby Headphone
allows the listener to enjoy  a realistic 5.1 surround soundstage from any pair of headphones when listening to music, watching movies, or playing games, without disturbing others. It processes 24-bit/96kHz audio form say DVD-Audio and can produce superb surround sound when combined with Dolby Pro Logic II for any stereo music and movies.

It also has the benefit of improving listening comfort by reducing what is referred to as 'listener fatigue' as a result of the rather unnatural in-the-head sound effect produced by standard stereo headphones.

Dolby Headphone technology makes use of powerful digital signal processing techniques to manipulate the audio signal from a multi-channel sound source - so that when it is reproduced by a pair of headphones, the resultant sound imaging appears as though one is listening to different virtual loudspeakers in a virtual room.

This leads to a more natural 'out-of-head' effect that allows the listener to fully enjoy a three-dimensional soundstage, leading to a more enjoyable headphone listening experience that is much easier on the mind.

More information is available in our Dolby Headphone Technology article appearing under the Headphones section of the site.

Dolby Virtual SpeakerDolby Virtual Speaker delivers a 5.1-channel surround sound listening experience from just two speakers, making it an ideal technology for digital TVs, stereo mini-systems, PCs, and a variety of consumer audio/visual products.

Dolby Virtual Speaker technology also creates a wider two-channel environment during playback of stereo CDs and MP3s, and when combined with Dolby Pro Logic® II processing, (for example, in an audio/video receiver or PC), delivers a virtual surround listening experience from any high-quality stereo source. More than a simple "expanded stereo" performance,

Dolby Virtual Speaker incorporates highly advanced algorithms and extensive room-modeling technologies to reproduce the sonic spectrum and dynamics of a properly placed 5.1-speaker system in a room environment.



More on Home Theater Speaker Placement
will follow soon.
Last updated on:

18th Nov. 2006

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Speaker Placement in Multi-Channel Audio Correct home theater speaker placement plays a critical role towards achieving that seamless ‘enveloping’ sound so important in the overall home theater experience.

Time Delay Settings in Surround Sound Systems
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TV Viewing Distance
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To access the full range of home theater design guides appearing on our site, click here.



Additional Guides:

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Books & Magazines

Home Theater
comes with loads of useful information from equipment centered reviews to buyer's guides and useful tips. Lots of useful content to help you get the most out of an existing system.


Note: A digital downloadable version of HOME Theater is also available from Zinio, Inc.
Click here for details.


Practical Home  Theater (2006 Ed.)
A well written reference guide to anyone interested in home theater - in particular, to those who did not keep up to date with the latest developments.


Great Escapes
A unique source of ideas, illustrated with over one hundred color photos. Its interesting designs are set to bring forth the same quality experience as visiting the movie theater.




Home Theater Design e-Book

A complete home theater design guide on how to research, design and build your own Home Theater.

Home Theater Design e-book

by Duncan McClelland

More information HERE.






Home Theater Speaker Systems











Single Speaker Surround sound system.