Dolby Mobile: quality audio from portable sound

March 7, 2008 | 15:05

Tags: #cebit-2008 #events #expansion #headphone #ipod #mid #n95 #quality #sound

Companies: #dolby #nokia

As we keep our ear to the ground for new things, we dropped into the Dolby booth today to see what all the noise was about. While you may think portable audio as some tinny crap, Dolby Mobile is set to change that quite considerably.

The standard can be licensed by anyone to include in their mobile products, but it has to attain a certain quality in addition to features in order to brandish the Dolby Mobile logo.

Dolby showed off a couple of Nokia products, including the popular N95, with Dolby Mobile and explained to bit-tech that there were different levels of support: either one click on or off, or fully fledged EQ adjustment and tweaking as well as spatial surround options.

The company's representatives explained that it found that spatial expansion helps reduce listener fatigue because it stops them from forcing the stereo sound into a personal environment – instead it’s easier to feel more at home when it’s enveloping you as you travel.

This should allow the end user either a simpler, intuitive way to know it’s working, or at the other end of the scale it’ll enable someone to spend time fiddling with the settings until it’s exactly to their tastes. It does depend on the implementation by the component manufacturer though – how far the options are buried in submenus or what audio software is built to use it, and to some degree the sound chipset as well, we’d expect.

Dolby explained that it was trying to take on the iPod by attempting to leverage the Dolby brand into products of traditionally poor audio quality into something better – where image quality has improved with the cameras and screens, audio has barely kept up, which is strangely ironic for devices that are primarily focused around audio by design (mobile phones for example).

When we had a listen to a few examples the quality was certainly exceptional, even with a pair of small headphones, but like many of the Dolby features – Dolby Headphone and Virtual Surround for example, really aren’t that universal and some types of music and video work better than others. Obviously the tastes of audio change from person to person, but it’s certainly a worthwhile initiative for the raising the quality bar and offering more features.

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