Surround sound MP3s revealed | iLounge News

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Surround sound MP3s revealed

“Soon your MP3 files could be sounding even better. The Fraunhofer Institute has found a way to reproduce surround sound in a way that works with small MP3 files.

Using a small amount of additional information added to an MP3 encoding stream the technology catches information about where sounds are supposed to be coming from.

Fraunhofer said that the system it developed would work with existing MP3 software and music players.”

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Comments

1

I thought I was getting pretty decent sound on my existing MP3 files. This is cool!

Posted by Stylescraper on March 22, 2004 at 8:24 AM (PDT)

2

that won’t necessarily do any good since music these days are rarely in surround sound….most of music we hear are still only stereo.  Surround sound is only prevalent in movies but what good does that do with an audio only format?

Posted by xyz on March 22, 2004 at 8:35 AM (PDT)

3

Yeah, CD’s are only capable of producing Stereo Sound from the left and right speakers.  I think it’s those SACD’s that offer multiple channels of sound, but there aren’t many artists releasing them and they’re pretty expensive. 

Posted by Ryan on March 22, 2004 at 8:59 AM (PDT)

4

i’m positive there are bands that are mixing their records in dolby 5.1

Posted by bojangles on March 22, 2004 at 9:15 AM (PDT)

5

bout freakin’ time! WMA9 had it for a while now. I still prefer mp3s. Just how would I rip my DVD-As?

Posted by pbox on March 22, 2004 at 9:16 AM (PDT)

6

“CD’s are only capable of producing Stereo Sound from the left and right speakers.”

Actually, no. You can encode a surround bitstream within conventional PCM:

“What I wanted was a way to make my own one-off CD-R discs that would play back in a consumer DVD player and decode as 5.1 surround in a Dolby Digital receiver. All of the industry pundits told me it was impossible (sound familiar?), but while I was visiting Tim Carroll at Dolby Labs in New York I thought I hit on a way to do it, and he agreed that it should work.”

Of course, you *do* need an SPDIF output, which the iPod currently lacks, but it may get one eventually…

Posted by SurroundSound on March 22, 2004 at 9:54 AM (PDT)

7

My $.02: Only some, not most, SACD’s are multi-channel.  A lot of SACD’s are normally priced (Dylan, Stones, Bowie, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, etc.) and many are hybrids as they play on all CD/DVD players, SACD capable or not. Obviously, a SACD capable DVD player is required to tap into the strengths of SACD—which is not it’s ability to be multi-channel but it’s outstanding sound reproduction ala the Stones, Dylan re-issues. As far as being expensive, some of the older releases (CCR, etc.) are still priced over $20, but new releases seem to be priced in line with regular CD’s. 

DVD Audio discs are all multi-channel. Although I have read that they are superior to SACD’s, my experience has been different (Pet Sounds is a major botch!) The strength of DVD-Audion is. like SACD, not it’s ability to play multi-channel, but it’s advanced resolution stereo.

My own opinion is that multi-channel music will not catch on. I find it annoying and often poorly executed. I have heard this from others too though this is just small talk. Stereo is here to stay and will not be supplanted, in my opinion.

This makes the MP3 surround sound file useless as far as I’m concerned.

Posted by Margk on March 22, 2004 at 10:22 AM (PDT)

8

Hmmm…

The only immediate advantage that I can think of is being able to save a bit of (audio) space on 5.1 CH DivX releases.

Other than that….perhaps making rips of SACDs, but even this is kind of useless considering the superior source.

Posted by steve on March 22, 2004 at 10:27 AM (PDT)

9

Cool, now I only need 5.1 ears, and I’ll be all set!

—Brian

Posted by Brian on March 22, 2004 at 11:52 AM (PDT)

10

All your DVD Audio format questions answered here.

Posted by DVDAudio on March 22, 2004 at 12:07 PM (PDT)

11

steve:  That was what I was thinking too.  I encode DVDs to DivX and I’d sure like to have 5.1 surround sound mp3s for my DivX movies. smile

Posted by robotZER0 on March 22, 2004 at 12:11 PM (PDT)

12

“I’d sure like to have 5.1 surround sound mp3s for my DivX movies.”

Why not just use the original AC-3 files, interleaving with the converted DIVX data? You can do that today. And in the futurem you won’t have to transcode from AC-3 to this proposed new format.

Posted by AC3 on March 22, 2004 at 12:37 PM (PDT)

13

AAC also does multi-channel sound and has been chosen for use in DVD-Audio disks:  http://www.highfidelityreview.com/news/news.asp?newsnumber=13634395

Posted by jbcoop on March 22, 2004 at 1:27 PM (PDT)

14

1. Multichannel audio needs more than 2 channels to be a true arrangement. I can only imagine this “new” technology will be a gimmick like pro-logic that took off well but always sucked. At best, it can create a nice delayed digital effect.

2. Why research a dying compression anyway? They would do much better to go with MPEG as they advance mpeg-4, maybe 5.

3. We only have 2 ears.

4. Multichannel audio so far hasn’t been executed very well in most cases. But properly done can sound amazing on a 5.1 home theater system. (Check out Steeley Dan: Two Against Nature DVD) Inasmuch, home theaters are the only such listening environments.

5. When stereo was introduced, most mixes weren’t all that great, but it was a challenge for mixers and producers. Now it’s unheard of to do otherwise. The industry will overcome this new challenge and in turn produce some awesome tracks in a true multichannel format, with hybrid stereo options for headphone-based systems.

And so…
I wouldn’t mind a true multichannel portable music player, as a storage device to plug into my home theater system. I look forward to seeing how the industry uses this challenge to inspire new creativity. And if I don’t have to buy another CD again, that would be sweet.

Posted by Wolf on March 22, 2004 at 1:38 PM (PDT)

15

AC3: I encode my movies onto CD-Rs (two to three disks depending on how long the movie is).  I reserve the most of the bitrate data for the video since audio (mp3) at 128kbps is adequate to my the ears.  If they can do 5.1 surround sound with mp3, then I’m all up for that. I currently have over 150 DivX movies on nearly 300 CD-Rs, all encoded by myself. smile

I’m not ready to spend 0.75-1$ per DVD-R for movies.  I rather buy 100 pack of CD-Rs for 20$ (ie. Sony, TDK, Memorex, Imation, etc etc)  When the prices of DVD-Rs goes way down, then I’ll jump into that.  I already have a DVD burner. I just use that to back up my data (progs/music/files).

Posted by robotZER0 on March 22, 2004 at 2:17 PM (PDT)

16

robotZero, AC-3 is several MP2 streams overlaid, with some clever bitwise multiplexing to compress the streams. It’s unlikely that any MP3-based discrete channel scheme will save much space over AC-3’s rather efficient compression scheme. Basically, AC-3 uses wider bitstream for 2-3 channels over completely discrete audio, but then each extra channel uses very little extra bitstream.

DVD Video already has a spec to use multi-channel MPEG Audio encoding, but since this doesn’t gain much compression over AC-3 it is not very common.

Audio details of DVD-Video

I myself have over a thousand movies and shows encoded personally using DIVX. Maybe I settle for less video quality than you, but I find around 90 minutes of DIVX with 160 Kbps MP3, or 80 mins of video with AC-3 fits in 710MB and looks good to me.

So for me, most movies are 1 disk, some are 2, and only monsters like Godfather 2 or Ran take up >2.

Of cours,e I’d like to try the new double-density CD burners, but so far I haven’t found anyone who’s got one and can vouch for them. But fitting 1.3GB on each CD sounds like a winning proposition to me!

Posted by AC3 on March 22, 2004 at 2:41 PM (PDT)

17

My experience has been that some stereo CD’s are mixed in such a way that audio is decoded by surround sound amplifiers very well.  My old Pixies CD from 1989 (Doolittle) sounds perfect on a surround system.  Listen to the track “Dead” on a surround system, and the guitar kicks into the rear speakers like a banshee.  It’s brilliant.  Same goes for Radiohead’s OK Computer.  I’m sure it’s not surround sound, but it sounds great on a surround system.

Posted by Eddie on March 22, 2004 at 3:29 PM (PDT)

18

One of the best is Emerson, Lake and Palmer- Pictures at an exhibition from the box set. That is incredible. Another one that sounds good in surround (but not encoded that way as far as I know) is Pink Floyd-Division Bell.

Peace,
Iggy

Posted by iggy on March 22, 2004 at 5:27 PM (PDT)

19

I believe there’s an SACD of Norah Jone’s Come Away With Me

Posted by eatwasabi on March 22, 2004 at 10:47 PM (PDT)

20

Jones’*

Posted by eatwasabi on March 22, 2004 at 10:48 PM (PDT)

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