Dolby Tweaks Tablet Sound

Dolby Laboratories gave the press an advance “listen” this week to a new sound-enhancing solution it has devised to improve audio quality in tablet devices: Dolby Digital Plus.

The technology, the company’s first to be scalable, is expected to make its way into tablets just ahead of the holiday selling season, and then migrate into smartphones and PCs sometime within 2013, according to Dawn Leonetti, senior manager of partner marketing for Dolby’s PC segment.

While very little, to date, has held consumers back from buying tablets, most who have heard content through them think audio quality leaves a lot to be desired. Just one in 10 say sound quality is “excellent,” according to a Consumer Electronics Association survey.

Dolby’s solution is designed to circumvent problems common to all tablets. These include their slim-profile form factors and their tiny speakers – limitations which have caused manufacturers to set volume ceilings in the devices to prevent sound distortion.

Another issue relates to the quality of the content typically viewed on tablets. Very often, sources are compressed files, and their quality, as Leonetti pointed out, is “all over the board. The goal is to create a more consistent experience.” With Dolby Digital Plus, listeners can crank up the volume without producing speaker distortion, and can expect no great differences in volume levels when hopping from one file to the next.

The software makes provision for user-adjustable features that can enhance dialogue intelligibility, broaden the content’s spatial soundfield or level the volume, but some tablet makers may opt to set those parameters arbitrarily for their devices, said Leonetti.

Announcements from hardware partners are expected later this year, she said.

Editor in chief of Dealerscope
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