Dolby talks up Volume

Dolby has been developing audio enhancement technology for the big and small screen for the last 40 years

Dolby has promised to solve the number one complaint by TV watchers today - that of excessive volume - by unleashing a new sound technology that will level sound differences between programmes, adverts and channels.

Speaking to, Dolby's consumer vice president Robin Dyer the technology, dubbed Volume, could appear in UK TV sets as early as next year - and it could become a big selling point for TV makers worldwide over the next 12 to 18 months.

The problem arises, Dyer said, because programmes, ads and even different channels each output sound at different volumes, sending viewers scrambling for the remote - either to turn the TV down or even off. Some programmes and ads also employ dynamic range compression techniques that make them sound relatively louder when compared to the TV content around them, again a turn off for viewers.

Dyer said Volume used psychoacoustic principles that mirrored human hearing, relatively adjusting the sound from TV broadcasts in real time so that they all had the same volume level by the time they came out of your speakers. Crucially the master volume level is set by the user - not the TV broadcaster.

The consumer VP also said that Dolby had taken an unprecedented step of announcing the technology early at the Consumer Electronics Show ( CES ), because it believed the technology was so important to viewers.

Dyer said that Dolby was actively working with semi-conductor manufacturers to install the technology in their chips, which in turn would find their way into consumer TVs. Dyer also insisted that Volume would carry a negligible additional cost, a cost that was likely to be lost in the aggressive price cutting among TV manufacturers who're keen to offer their TVs to consumers for the best possible price.

Volume and TrueHD coming to home cinema receivers

Volume is likely to join high definition surround sound format Dolby TrueHD in home cinema amps and receivers. Dyer said this was because Volume gives you a better surround sound performance at low volumes levels when compared to the 'night' modes used in many home cinema products.

Dyer said that he expects Dolby Digital Plus - an extension of Dolby Digital that delivers high quality audio for HD programmes - would also be adopted by broadcasters in the UK this year.

He rounded off by saying that Dolby was taking steps to improve the listening experience for owners of mobile devices - like personal MP3 players and mobile phones - by getting its Dolby Headphone and Audistry sound enhancement technologies included in new products.