Event - Dolby Labs Takes Its Show on the Road
Steve Ekblad
21 November 1999

Dolby Labs took the show on the road and to the sales staff at United Audio Centers in Chicago, IL. The purpose of their visit was to provide information on the current forms of Dolby Audio that are available as well as the future. Representing Dolby Labs was Mr. Richard Quattrone, the Manager of Multi-Channel Audio Marketing and Products from Dolby Labs, and Mr. Joseph Piccirilli, a renown industry consultant and trainer extraordinary. They brought in a special presentation that provided review of how we got to where we are today, a technical explanation of Digital Audio proposed for DVD, and a fantastic demonstration. Mr. Piccirilli explained the technologies in great detail and answered numerous questions.

Included in their presentation was a series of recorded works from various artists dubbed from 6 channel masters to two format outputs on a Tascam DA88 [8 channel ADAT]. The first six channels contained a clone of the digital studio master recording to be played through the 6-channel inputs of a Denon AVR5700 into a full Klipsch surround package consisting of center, left and right mains, diffuse surrounds [the diffuse surrounds were not used during the music portion of this demonstration], full range surrounds, and a subwoofer. The last two channels contained identical data, a 5.1 Dolby Digital version of the previous 6-tracks. The concept was to provide comparison between the studio master and the Dolby Digital 12 to 1 lossey compression system and allow our staff by direct comparison through listening to determine the transparent quality of the Dolby Digital bit stream.







As you might have guessed, the studio master sounded absolutely fantastic. The dynamic range was exhilarating and sounded so real that the CD's we had been playing earlier sounded weak by comparison. The cuts included "Lucky Man" by ELP which had been recently re-engineered and re-mixed by John Kellogg [Dolby Labs] and Paul Klingburg [the engineer for all of the Earth Wind & Fire sessions] from the original 8-track analogue studio master to 28 tracks of digital audio and then mixed down to a 5.1 6-channel mix intended for DVD and other purposes. Also included was a Bill Mize recording of the Beatles classic "Come Together". This recording was made using a four mike technique with Bill located in the middle. A full orchestral jazz selection entitled "Fare well my Lovely" from Jazz at the Movies [produced by Jac Holzman] and a Christopher Cross selection entitled "So Far Away" [from the "On Air" DVD] produced by Alan Parsons.

During each playback of a recording, Rich Quattrone allows us to compare the 6-channel digital studio master output with a 5.1 Dolby Digital decoded version. What amazed everyone was how wonderful and transparent the Dolby version sounded. It was even more amazing when you realized that through the 12 to 1 compression and bit reduction technique that 90% of the original bits were removed from the bit stream to afford the tight packing necessary to fit in places where no one else could place high quality audio. The sound of both digital master and the 5.1 Dolby Digital bit stream amazed the entire audience who listened transfixed to each demonstration.

Next time you listen to the complex soundtrack of a DVD movie or a DVD concert, or if you are fortunate enough to already have other sources of broadcast Dolby Digital such as HDTV [where multi channel Dolby Digital is the audio standard] , listen and enjoy the wonderful dynamics and bandwidth afforded by the technology licensed by Dolby Labs! Then think about what the world of high quality audio would be like without this wonderful technology. Wow, I am very happy to have Dolby Labs working for us making the recorded world a lot more enjoyable and more like the producers intended!

Note: Dolby & Dolby Digital are trademarks of Dolby Laboratories.

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