Hands on: Dolby Volume

IFA 2008: Hands-on with Dolby Volume
IFA 2008: Hands-on with Dolby Volume

TechRadar has been scurrying around IFA 2008 like a mouse high on caffeine-flavoured cheese, and landed itself in the lovely Dolby room to check out the new technology on offer.

Dolby Volume (bear with us, it's more exciting than it sounds!) is the new technology from the home theatre folks, and it's something of a humdinger in audio terms.

Given it's only available in two high-end Harman Kardon AV receivers and a Toshiba TV in Japan, it's best not to speak too much of the price right now (we're talking over £2,000 at least).

But having chatted to the Dolby and Harman Kardon chaps it appears this could be appearing in the sub £800-zone soon, so it's well worth a look.

Adverts: too loud

Firstly, it controls the volume of your audio equipment to keep it all at the same level no matter what you throw at it. This, says Harman Hardon, is the reason they've taken it on board, because so many customers ask: "Can it stop adverts coming on so loud in between programmes?"

"But loads of companies offer that!" you might cry (though don't; you'll get strange looks). And true, they do.

But the difference is Dolby can work with surround sound channels too. Where a normal volume equaliser might just keep the whole sound at a normal level, Dolby Volume works with the each channel, lowering some (i.e. background sound) and raising others (speech and bass) to keep the surround effect even at low levels.

In action, it worked pretty well, and certainly kept the 'home cinema' feel no matter what volume was being used and whichever source was thrown at it (we saw a spurious Spanish gameshow for some reason).


And if you're forking out a fortune on a home theatre, then this is exactly the kind of thing you want to make it worthwhile; there's no point having a great system that you can't always hear properly.

But the price needs to drop for the average Joe to really feel the benefit of this tech; so fingers crossed the info we've been told about price drops in the next couple of years prove to be true.

Those of you that want to feel the quality for themselves can head on over to Dolby to check out the technology for themselves. That's how good we are to you.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.