Surround sound tracks (or channels) were included in motion pictures, in the early 1950s, in order to provide a more realistic cinema experience. Later, the popularity of surround sound resulted in its migration from cinema halls to home theaters equipped with matrixed multichannel sound (e.g., Dolby ProLogic™). This can be attributed to the multichannel surround sound format [Bosi93] [Holm99] [DOLBY] and subsequent improvements in the audio compression technology.

Until the early 1990s, almost all surround sound formats were based on matrixing, i.e., the information from all the channels (front and surround) was encoded as a two-channel stereo as shown in Figure 10.3. In the mid-1990s, discrete encoding, i.e., 5.1 separate channels of audio, was introduced by Dolby Laboratories and Digital Theater Systems (DTS).

10.3.1 The Evolution of Surround Sound

Table 10.2 lists some of the milestones in the history of multichannel surround sound systems. In the early 1950s, the first commercial multichannel sound format was developed for cinema applications. “Quad” (Quadraphonic) was the first home-multichannel format, promoted in the early 1970s. But, due to some incompatibility issues in the encoding/decoding techniques, the Quad was not successful. In the mid-1970s, Dolby overcame the incompatibility issues associated with the optical sound tracks and introduced a new format, called the Dolby stereo, a special encoding technique that later became very ...

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