Dolby AC-4 and Dolby Atmos bring Next Generation Audio to 80% of UHD TVs in Europe

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Arkin Kol

TV manufacturers are looking at a very different landscape than they knew just a decade ago.

Dolby AC-4 is a feature-rich audio codec for this new landscape. It gives hardware manufacturers and content producers powerful new tools to deliver exceptional experiences to consumers, making the most of today’s hottest new content. One of the most exciting things these tools make possible is personalisation, allowing interactive and flexible services. Because Dolby AC-4 is part of Dolby’s complete end-to-end platform for creating content for every lifestyle and price point, it’s already part of a massive and growing ecosystem of sound and vision.

What is Dolby AC-4? At its heart Dolby AC-4 is a state-of-the-art codec built for efficiency and versatility. Dolby AC-4 is included in Dolby’s MS12 v2 platform, the audio system used by manufacturers that includes all the components needed to enable Dolby Audio in televisions and set-top boxes. MS12 comes in Dolby-approved system-on-a-chip (SoC) options, together with software, practical support and a full test kit. As part of the MS12 system you can be sure that your Dolby AC-4 delivered content can be played back optimally on your TV and also through any legacy or Dolby Atmos capable home theatre equipment.

As well as the exceptional low-bandwidth performance and flexibility provided by Dolby AC-4, adoption of the technology by content providers will be able to support Dolby’s immersive audio experience, Dolby Atmos, in the most efficient way possible. Dolby also provides information and guidance to help content providers get the best version of their content delivered to consumers whether that is over broadcast or streamed over the internet. Dolby continues to work with the industry and with standards bodies to make sure that Dolby AC-4 is supported and can unlock more premium audio experiences than ever before.

Dolby AC-4 is engineered to deliver major benefits to content providers. They can concentrate on producing the highest quality, most fully immersive version of audio content and ensure it can be delivered efficiently over broadcast and streaming. The low-bandwidth, high-efficiency data streams allow consumers to experience video or musical recordings encoded in Dolby Atmos over a huge range of consumer equipment, from high-end audio systems to flat-screen TVs and mobile phones.

A history of expansion

Five years ago, Dolby Atmos was introduced in high-end soundbars and AVRs, and three years ago in TVs. More recently, Dolby Atmos has moved into laptops, mobile phones and wireless speakers, as well as to streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV and Disney+. An explosion of new Dolby Atmos content has followed. Movies – of course – but also productions from Netflix and Sky. Live sporting events are broadcast in Dolby Atmos to provide a real ‘being-there’ experience. Today, some 30 percent of UK, French, and German households can enjoy Dolby Atmos content.

Why consumers love Dolby Atmos… and Dolby AC-4 brings more

Dolby AC-4 has great potential for the future too. It will allow multiple independent versions of audio – a Liverpool fan watching their team play Arsenal could choose a Liverpool commentary, while Arsenal fans could choose their own commentator. It also provides precision control over vocal clarity and by leveraging its object-based architecture there are new efficient ways to improve accessibility. Dolby AC-4’s low-bandwidth, high-quality options will let content providers deliver new services with multiple personalized and optimized experiences. Manufacturers that include Dolby AC-4 in their TVs (it’s already in 4 out of 5 UHD TVs shipped), phones, tablets, and other devices will be ready to capitalise on these developments as they happen.

Manufacturers make it – Dolby makes it sound better

Dolby has a long history of working with partners and licensees, and we still believe that a large part of Dolby’s value comes from our commitment to support our partners with their Dolby implementations. We ensure that SoC vendors produce fully compliant components and we have a comprehensive portfolio of SDKs available to manufacturers prepared specifically for each device type. There is a clearly defined pathway to integrating Dolby AC-4 into your system. Our field application engineers are always available, and our comprehensive testing and approval process means manufacturers can have high confidence in the performance of the end product.

Dolby Atmos is everywhere now, it has grown into a lively ecosystem across all genres of the digital audio experience. Dolby AC-4 allows producers to deliver incredible audio experiences to the installed base of devices. The technology’s flexibility and extensibility allow the format to evolve to meet future needs. At the same time, Dolby Atmos is included in a growing range of devices and services, resulting in increased customer awareness and demand. The future will see Dolby remain the guaranteed must-have for the best immersive experience possible.