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DECIPHERING SURROUND SOUND FOR HOME THEATER In recent years there have been many advancements in the world of home entertainment arguably the most popular of these being the inset of theater quality Surround Sound at home The dramatic growth and popularity of surround sound has spawned more and more companies trying to get their piece of the action The obvious advantage of this competition is constantly advancing technologies and great variety in products that span every price point and budget The downside to all of this variety and cutting edge technology is the often confusing learning curve and deciding which system will best suite your home entertainment needs The following information should help dispel the mystery of surround sound and bring you up to date with the most recent developments Though there are other brands and formats out there to choose from we are going to focus on the three most popular and successful companies in the surround sound world today Dolby Labs Digital Theater Systems and LucasFilm Well start with Dolby Labs and their older but still in wide use formats Dolby Surround and Dolby Pro-Logic The Dolby Surround process involves encoding four channels of information--Front Left Center Front Right and Rear Surround into a two-channel signal A decoding chip then decodes the four channels and sends them to the appropriate destination the Left Right Rear and Phantom Center The center channel is derived from the LR front channels not a center speaker The result is a more balanced listening environment in which the main sounds derive from the left and right channels the vocal or dialog emanates from the center phantom channel and the ambience or effects information comes in from behind the listener The sensation of sounds moving from front to rear and left to right adds more realism to the viewinglistening experience by placing the viewer in the action Dolby Surround is easily useful in both musical and film sound recording
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