MP3 goes surround

— 4:33 PM on December 3, 2004

Ronald already covered this in the Shortbread, but it deserves a little extra attention. The beloved stereo MP3 format has finally expanded beyond two channels. Fraunhofer IIS, one of the founders of the original MP3 format, has announced the next step in audio compression: MP3 Surround. MP3 Surround enables multi-channel audio compression at bit-rates similar to current stereo MP3 encodings, although the evaluation encoder available on Fraunhofer IIS’s web site only allows encoding at a constant bit-rate of 192kbps and 16-bit resolution.

The evaluation encoder enables the creation of MP3 Surround material out of five or six channel “.wav“ files. The Fraunhofer IIS MP3 Surround player is capable of decoding and playing back the surround format’s files as well as stereo MP3 material. This software-only solution runs on any standard PC with multi-channel audio capabilities.
Most DVD-Audio discs come with an AC-3 encoded track for standard DVD players that can’t decode the high resolution MLP track. Since AC-3 tracks can be decoded into a multi-channel WAV files, MP3 Surround should allow users to recompress AC-3 tracks into smaller multi-channel files that are roughly the same size as stereo MP3 files.

Thanks to TR reader blitzy for the heads up.

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