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Thursday 5 July 2012

Mobile devices are increasingly compact but the quality of their audio output is therefore affected. DTS, which is renowned for HD multi-channel audio technologies, now offers complete surround sound and decoding solutions to smart phones, tablets, ultrabook, and other ultra mobile devices based on their costs and market positioning, enabling mobile devices to produce superb audio quality.

Speaking at the recent DTF 2012 Ultra Mobile & Ecosystem Forum, Mary Crebassa, vice president, strategic partnerships, DTS, first played a film "Sound Changes The Way We See" to illustrate how important sound is in the overall entertainment experience while introducing DTS as an audio technology leader.

DTS' reputation: Rich details of HD audio

According to Crebassa, DTS was founded in 1993, when Steven Spielberg was directing his masterpiece Jurassic Park. Spielberg wanted to present the delicacy of rippling and resorted to DTS, which provided the rich details of sound to crystallize Spielberg's imagination.

Headquartered in Calabasas, California, DTS listed on NASDAQ in 2003. DTS is an industry standard format for digitized audio effects of DVD, DVB, DLNA, IPF (IP TV Forum), etc. and is indispensable for Blu-ray discs.

According to Nielsen's 2011 annual survey, the global market share of Hollywood films featuring DTS HD audio encoding technologies was as high as 86%.

High quality sound effect and feeling provided by DTS to ultra mobile devices

Given the convenience of the Internet and popularity of ultra mobile devices, Crebassa noted that increasingly compact mobile devices restrain the space for audio circuit and component design. In particular, because of cost considerations, audio quality of mobile devices can hardly satisfy consumers if such devices are not supported by high quality audio solutions.

According to the findings from a mobile media and access platform survey conducted by Parks & Associates in the third quarter of 2010, as high as 59% of mobile devise users hoped to have surround sound, 22% considered stereo quality an essential requirement, and only 18% did not consider sound effects relevant. Therefore, DTS tailors solutions to help smart phones, tablets, ultrabook, and other ultra mobile devices maximize their hardware effectiveness and improve their sound performance.

Crebassa further stressed that the value of DTS lies in the onset of development, i.e., a comprehensive service that includes not only design recommendations from the perspective of audio to provide implementation and fine-tuning but also marketing and sales support. The complete solutions provided by DTS not only resolve many complaints about the sound effect quality of mobile devices but also cope with the difficulties facing OEM partners in high quality digital audio circuit development. As a result, OEM partners can rapidly respond to various emerging digital video protocols and provide the best sound experience with Codec Decoder along with post processing technologies.

Crebassa also analyzed the behavior pattern of mobile device users, who listen with headsets, speakers, and docking stations; converse with microphones; receive the sound of music, movies, streamed multimedia contents, games, system sound effects, and ring tones; communicate on social media; and talk in real time on IM Chat and using pure voice software.

According to Crebassa, users tend to complain about sound quality, such as the lack of bass, insufficient loudness, spatial degradation, poor quality of sound, treble aliasing, unclear conversations, and sharply increasing or decreasing loudness from different sources of sound. These issues can all be resolved by DTS Mobile Solutions for Post Processing that utilizes natural sound technologies such as a personalized equalizer to enable bass, audio frequency, and sound wave movement recovery. Loudness will be maximized while spatial degradation, contents, and loudness will be made consistent.

Regarding the background echo and noise as well as inaccurate identification of voice commands associated with microphone input, DTS provides its Mobile Solutions for Pre Processing for noise suppression, echo elimination, improvement of the accuracy of voice command identification.

DTS solutions to entry- and medium-level as well as high-end mobile devices

Immediately after Crebassa, Vincent Ting, director, account management, DTS, elaborated on DTS solutions to ultra mobile devices. DTS is not only a standard setter and does not only enjoy a reputation of high quality guarantee but also guided by the principle of resurrecting the original sound of high quality. DTS Ultra Mobile and DTS Premium Audio are mobile solutions for post processing specially provided to OEM partners to enable intelligent, easy-to-tune sound output of high quality.

DTS Premium Audio, which will be launched in Fall 2012, targets high-end multimedia mobile devices, supporting multi-channel surround sound output, dynamic range recovery, augmentation and balance of loudness, and spectrum control. Moreover, DTS Premium Audio is capable of scenario optimization, loudness augmentation, surround sound simulation, as well as volume balance and bandwidth expansion. DTS Ultra Mobile, which is available in the market now, focuses on medium- and entry-level users who only use headsets and speakers, providing surround sound simulation to headsets as well as increased loudness to speakers.

DTS also provides its DTS HD solution factoring in HD audio and video decoding that mobile devices need. The solution includes Ultraviolet, a digital rights authentication system, to decode and play multi-channel audio sources of HD films with Android Ultraviolet Player on the Android platform. The solution provides extra support to digital media libraries such as Deluxe Digital Media Library, DivX Plus Streaming, and Adobe Creative Suite 6, too.

DTS HD is able to convert 5.1 channel or 7.1 channel to 2-channel stereo for output, and decode multi-channel film, music, or game content to provide genuine multi-channel surround sound that delivers a strong impact to mobile device users. DTS HD codecs implement coding and decoding at 1.5Mbps, and they are fully compatible with any TV and video recorder available in the market.

In terms of the division of audio source products for mobile devices, it is DTS' recommendation that the system design of tablets and high-end video phones should adopt the combination of DTS HD and DTS Premium Audio; multimedia phones should adopt DTS Premium Audio; and entry- and medium-level phones should adopt DTS Ultra Mobile.

Audio technologies that transform mobile devices into entertainment on the go

Ting further introduced the technologies as provided by DTS Premium Audio and DTS Ultra Mobile that enhance the quality of audio sources and reduce noise. DTS Ultra Mobile features the technologies of Envelo and Boost, while DTS Premium Audio has four technologies -- Enhance, Symmetry, Envelo, and Boost -- all in one.

DTS solutions target mobile devices with limited space, in particular, the background noise resulting from heat ventilation that inevitably incurs crosstalk interference with microphones, and high-pitched, unnatural signals. When these issues happen, DTS implements decoding at 1.5Mbps and provides analogue signals that meet the DTS 2.0 stereo specification along with digital 5.1 channel output. As a result, when stereo headsets and speakers are connected only, stereo can be used to simulate multi-channel output. When the 1.5Mbps digital signal output port is connected, the genuine 5.1 channel digital output will resume.

DTS Boost processes the sound signals that do not have a sufficient range of vibration, and the technology is able to increase loudness by at least 12 decibels. DTS Symmetry balances the volume of sound as defined by users, utilizing audio psychology to appropriately increase or decrease loudness to resolve the annoyance of sharply increasing or decreasing loudness resulting from different ranges of vibration associated with different sound sources.

DTS 3D is a real-time 3D recording tool for game and movie dubbing. DTS Clear Voice suppresses audio feedback from local loudspeakers and rejects contribution from undesired ambient noises, enabling dual-microphone speech dereverberation and spatial sensing. Targeting different platforms, DTS supports API function links such as OpenAL and OpenSL ES, and DTS also supports Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) development to provide different product design options to customers.

In sum, in terms of audio sources, the encoding structure of DTS is similar to concentric circles, in which 5.1 channel data compression is the core while 6.1 channel and 7.1 channel are outer circles. Therefore, all the DTS decoders available in the market completely support 5.1 channel output. Newer DTS decoders are capable of downward compatibility to decode any DTS sound source and deliver the best audio quality. For mobile devices, DTS enables surround sound simulation to provide a multi-channel effect of a spacious sound field. DTS post processing technologies improve audio playback when there are hardware restraints, resolving all the audio-related issues. DTS, which provides complete real-time local services, is a reliable audio technology partners to manufacturers for manufacturers to effectively enhance the added value of their products.

Mary Crebassa, vice president, strategic partnerships, DTS

Mary Crebassa, vice president, strategic partnerships, DTS

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