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What is Auro-3D?


Auro-3D is the next generation three-dimensional audio standard. It provides a realistic sound experience unlike anything before. By fully immersing the listener in a cocoon of life-like sound, Auro-3D creates the sensation of actually ‘being there’. Thanks to a unique ‘Height’ channel configuration, acoustic reflections are generated and heard naturally due to the fact that sounds originate from around as well as above the listener.

To achieve ‘true sound in 3D’, Auro-3D adds the crucial third and final dimension in the evolution of sound reproduction. While 5.1/7.1 Surround configurations fail to include height channels (z- axis), Auro-3D’s creates its outstanding effect with a HEIGHT-based sound hemisphere capable of thoroughly immersing the listener. Depending on the size of the room, either 1 or 2 additional layers (HEIGHT and TOP) are mounted above the existing Surround layer at ear-level to produce Auro-3D’s defining ‘vertical stereo field’ (see image). This field is the key to creating the most natural and immersive sound experience possible. The optional (third) TOP Layer placed overhead is a supplementary effect channel that is not critical for natural audio reproduction. As people are less sensitive to sounds originating from above, the TOP Layer is primarily used for ‘fly-overs’ and other special effects – most sound sources and their chief initial reflections are located between the Surround Layer and Auro-3D’s unique Height Layer.

Auro-3D Speakers

Auro-3D is based on a groundbreaking new technology that delivers uncompressed audio quality with an unrivaled level of flexibility. The height information, captured in recording or created during the mixing process, is mixed into a standard 5.1 PCM stream. Any device that contains the Auro-Codec Decoder will be capable of decoding the original Auro-3D mix, which will conveniently playback on any Auro-3D compatible speaker system (Auro 9.1/Auro 10.1/Auro 11.1 etc.). Thanks to Auro-3D’s backward compatibility, devices without the Auro-Codec Decoder will produce the original 5.1 PCM mix without any loss in sound quality.

Auro 9.1 not only delivers an entirely new audio experience in 3D but also offers the most efficient 5.1 Surround format compatible speaker layout featuring the ‘Height’ dimension.

Immersive Sound can be described as “Surround Sound with Height”. It is adding the missing and final dimension in sound reproduction. Auro had used height layers in the cinema to create Auro 11.1 by Barco. Now they are bringing Auro-3D to the home in the same way. “The closer to real-life sound, the more immersive the effect”.

Auro 11.1

Creating Auro-3D Immersive sound
Producing 3D sound is the first challenge, and there are several options. You can record 3D sound natively by using Auro-3D rigs to capture 3D reflections, which gives the most natural results. Or you can use the 3-dimensional speaker layout to create a true 3D Sound in an artificial way. Both methods can sound very immersive. Auro-3D is also the only native recording format for true 3D Sound.

Then you need to deliver the 3D sound to the listener, and this is where the Auro-Codec comes into play. The Auro-Codec is the world’s first and only codec that achieves full quality and compatibility by embedding the data directly within the uncompressed audio domain. So that means that we can deliver immersive sound through a unique single file distribution. The beauty is that with this Codec you can have the 3D sound format and the regular 5.1 (2D) Surround format in a single file without compromising the quality, which is completely compatible with the existing Surround system. The distribution of the Auro-3D format is based on a groundbreaking new technology that allows the Auro-3D mix to be integrated in the standard delivery formats like the existing Blu-ray format, using your current Blu-ray player.

The unique Auro-3D Height Layer
Having delivered the 3D signal, you then need height to experience immersive 3D sound. This height layer of speakers is at the heart of the Auro-3D format. It’s what delivers 540° sound field – for true immersive sound.

Most real life sound sources and their 3D reflections originate between ear-level and about 45° height all around us. So adding additional channels as a second layer above a standard 5.1 or 7.1 speaker layout creates the most efficient way for a true 3D sound experience. This “vertical stereo field” in front and all around the listener is key for a true 3D immersive experience. Depending of the size and shape of the room, a third layer (Top Layer) can be added directly overhead – the same as in the cinema with Auro 11.1 by Barco.

Auro-3D Engine

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So can you create 3D sound without a height layer of speakers? Currently available virtual surround systems try to fool our ears into thinking that sound is coming from beside or behind us. However, they are not comparable with a decent 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system, yet could the same principle create the illusion of height? The fact is that we have ears on the side of our head, and not one above the other! So it is really difficult to create this kind of acoustic localization in the vertical plane with similar techniques. For the best true 3D sound you need a layer of height speakers in front and around the listener. Trying to ‘bounce’ sound off walls or ceilings is a poor imitation, and won’t deliver the incredibly life-like and emotional impact of the Auro-3D format.

Auro-3D can reproduce immersive 3D audio for both films and music because Auro-3D is as well a native true 3D recording format. Auro Technologies is working closely with the industry to release music titles in Auro-3D. For this purpose it has developed a range of professional audio tools which are made available for Auro-3D production. Several labels will announce the release of Auro-3D content very soon, including classical, jazz, pop rock, as well as popular music genres.

Auro-3D is bringing the technology and the content – so that you can experience the most compelling, natural and enveloping sound experience.

Auro Technologies ( is a spin-off of the Galaxy Studios Group and owner of the Auro-3D Technology Suite. The Auro-3D Concept and Listening Formats were launched in 2006 at AES Paris and San Francisco by its designer Wilfried Van Baelen, founder and CEO of Auro Technologies and Galaxy Studios, renowned worldwide for its state-of-the-art leadership in audio innovation for music and sound for film. The Auro-3D suite offers groundbreaking, easy-to-use and unprecedented levels of sound reproduction capabilities to the professional, automotive, broadcast and consumer electronics markets such as gaming, smartphones, multimedia PC, notebooks, tablets, audio players, digital TV, media libraries and packaged media.

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