Audio at CES - Is Surround EX Too Much?
For the last few years, fans of multi-channel audio have been barraged with one new format after another. First, they were told to upgrade from Dolby Pro Logic to Dolby Digital. Then came along DTS, which sounded better but was limited to a handful of titles. Now, consumers and those who sell to them are confronted with Surround EX, yet another new format, created by Dolby Labs and Lucasfilm, which is licensing the technology through its THX subsidiary.
Surround EX adds a discrete rear-center audio channel, in effect bumping Dolby Digital from 5.1 channels to 6.1. Only two DVD titles, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Haunting, have been encoded with Surround EX audio as of press time, and early indications are that only about a dozen titles will come out this year.
Although a handful of audio makers have licensed Surround EX, as part of the revised THX Ultra standard, other manufacturers are scrambling to offer products that will support it, if not endorse it, many of which will make their debuts at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2000.