Datasat Digital Sound...and beyondDaniel Schulz, Product Manager at Datasat, says this is just the start of a sound revolution in the cinema and the home.
Like almost every major motion picture released from Hollywood and around the world over the last 20 years, Gravity was presented in Datasat Digital Sound, the sound format that we developed at the birth of digital surround sound. Our technology won an Academy Award® in its own right, so it’s rather exciting for Datasat to continue being a part of surround sound innovation with the introduction of new immersive sound formats.
During the long reign of digital sound for 35mm film, everyone in the movie audio industry used some form of data compression however, the development of standards for Digital Cinema has changed this, and moves are now released in high-resolution, uncompressed audio.
It's amazing. And, it opens a world of possibilities.
The future is immersive soundIn addition to allowing uncompressed digital sound, the Digital Cinema revolution has enabled the advent of exciting new sound formats. The first result is the emergence of immersive 3D sound. Over the last quarter century, the only step forward for movie soundtracks was to go from 5.1 to 7.1 – hardly a revolution! But now we are seeing the deployment of new, immersive formats such as Auro-3D® and Dolby® Atmos™, which enable whole new vistas for sound designers and mixers.
Technologies such as Auro-3D® from Auro Technologies and Dolby® Atmos™ are set to provide the move forward that sound has needed. The addition of height and top layers enables the reproduction of a much more natural listening experience. The listener can now discern a greater texture within the sound and also the location from which the sound is coming. We now can be placed in the heart of the action – both visually and sonically. That changes not just the movie-watching experience but it offers great benefits for gamers or simply listening to music at home.
Of course, these sound formats are at the beginning of their journey and success will be measured by how quickly and readily studios and theatres adopt them. However, early indications are extremely positive. There are now hundreds of Auro-3D® and Dolby® Atmos™ screens worldwide, and the list of movies being mixed in either or both of the formats is growing rapidly.
The focus is quality soundAll of this may sound like bad news for Datasat’s legacy sound format for 35mm film, but current developments in sound make the Datasat offering more relevant than ever. One problem has been overcome. We no longer have to worry about the quality of the soundtrack. But that raises an equally important issue: what about the quality of the playback?
An installation – whether in a movie theatre or at home – is only as good as its ability to reproduce the original sound in that space. The selection of audio processor is vital. It needs to be feature-rich, flexible and extendible. The Datasat AP20 is recognised as one of the most powerful cinema processors available. The Datasat Reference Series RS20i is widely seen as the reference standard for high-end home cinema. And, the Datasat Luxury Series LS10 is bringing this audio processing power to mid-range home cinema.
The fact that Datasat has worked closely with major studios is an advantage, as we have a clear view of what these people are trying to achieve. Equally important is our long history of processing technology development, which has seen us involved in the early development of immersive sound. It's a Datasat processor that drives the Auro-3D® system in professional cinemas, and we were selected for the quality of our playback.