Dolby Laboratories

Last updated

Dolby Laboratories, Inc.
Type Public
NYSE:  DLB (Class A)
Russell 1000 Component
Industry Audio encoding/compression
Audio noise reduction
FoundedMay 18, 1965;55 years ago (1965-05-18) in London, England, UK
Founder Ray Dolby
Number of locations
30+ (2014)
Area served
Key people
Peter Gotcher
(Executive chairman)
Kevin Yeaman
(President and CEO)
Productssee Technologies
Services Dolby Cinema
RevenueIncrease2.svg US$1.082 billion (2017) [1]
Increase2.svg US$248.64 million (2017) [1]
Increase2.svg US$201.80 million (2017) [1]
Total assets Increase2.svg US$2.534 billion (2017) [1]
Total equity Increase2.svg US$2.137 billion (2017) [1]
Number of employees
1,867 (2015) [2]
Subsidiaries Audistry [3]
Via Licensing [4]

Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (often shortened to Dolby Labs and known simply as Dolby) is an American company specializing in audio noise reduction and audio encoding/compression. Dolby licenses its technologies to consumer electronics manufacturers.



Dolby Labs was founded by Ray Dolby (1933–2013) in London, United Kingdom, in 1965. In the same year, he invented the Dolby Noise Reduction System, a form of audio signal processing for reducing the background hissing sound on audio tape recordings. His first U.S. patent on the technology was filed in 1969, four years later. The method was first used by Decca Records in the UK. [5]

He moved the company headquarters to the United States (San Francisco, California) in 1976. [6] The first product Dolby Labs produced was the Dolby 301 unit which incorporated Type A Dolby Noise Reduction, a compander-based noise reduction system. These units were intended for use in professional recording studios.

Dolby was persuaded by Henry Kloss of KLH to manufacture a consumer version of his noise reduction. Dolby worked more on companding systems and introduced Type B in 1968.

Dolby also sought to improve film sound. As the corporation's history explains:[ citation needed ]

Upon investigation, Dolby found that many of the limitations in optical sound stemmed directly from its significantly high background noise. To filter this noise, the high-frequency response of theatre playback systems was deliberately curtailed… To make matters worse, to increase dialogue intelligibility over such systems, sound mixers were recording soundtracks with so much high-frequency pre-emphasis that high distortion resulted.

The first film with Dolby sound was A Clockwork Orange (1971), which used Dolby noise reduction on all pre-mixes and masters, but a conventional optical sound track on release prints. Callan (1974) was the first film with a Dolby-encoded optical soundtrack. [7] In 1975, Dolby released Dolby Stereo, which included a noise reduction system in addition to more audio channels (Dolby Stereo could actually contain additional center and surround channels matrixed from the left and right). The first film with a Dolby-encoded stereo optical soundtrack was Lisztomania (1975), although this only used an LCR (Left-Center-Right) encoding technique. The first true LCRS (Left-Center-Right-Surround) soundtrack was encoded on the movie A Star Is Born in 1976. In less than ten years, 6,000 cinemas worldwide were equipped to use Dolby Stereo sound. Dolby reworked the system slightly for home use and introduced Dolby Surround, which only extracted a surround channel, and the more impressive Dolby Pro Logic, which was the domestic equivalent of the theatrical Dolby Stereo. [8]

Dolby developed a digital surround sound compression scheme for the cinema. Dolby Stereo Digital (now simply called Dolby Digital) was first featured on the 1992 film Batman Returns . Introduced to the home theater market as Dolby AC-3 with the 1995 laserdisc release of Clear and Present Danger , the format did not become widespread in the consumer market, partly because of extra hardware that was necessary to make use of it, until it was adopted as part of the DVD specification. Dolby Digital is now found in the HDTV (ATSC) standard of the United States, DVD players, and many satellite-TV and cable-TV receivers. Dolby developed a digital surround sound compression scheme for the TV series The Simpsons .[ citation needed ]

On February 17, 2005, the company became public, offering its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, under the symbol DLB. On March 15, 2005, Dolby celebrated its fortieth anniversary at the ShoWest 2005 Festival in San Francisco.[ citation needed ]

On January 8, 2007, Dolby announced the arrival of Dolby Volume at the International Consumer Electronics Show.[ citation needed ]

On June 18, 2010, Dolby introduced Dolby Surround 7.1, and set up theaters worldwide with 7.1 surround speaker setups to deliver theatrical 7.1 surround sound. The first film to be released with this format was Pixar's Toy Story 3 which was later followed by 50 releases using the format. About eighty percent of films released are mixed in Dolby Surround 7.1 by default.

In April 2012, Dolby introduced its Dolby Atmos, a new cinematic technology adding overhead sound, first applied in Pixar's motion picture Brave . [9] In July 2014, Dolby Laboratories announced plans to bring Atmos to home theater. The first television show to use the technology on disc was Game of Thrones .

On February 24, 2014, Dolby acquired Doremi Labs for $92.5 million in cash plus an additional $20 million in contingent consideration that may be earned over a four-year period. [10]

In May 2019, Dolby decided to add Dolby Atmos to hundreds of newer songs in the music industry.[ citation needed ]


Analog audio noise reduction

Audio encoding/compression

Audio processing

Dolby system A-type decoder Dolby system A-type decoder (6498622501).jpg
Dolby system A-type decoder

Video processing

Digital cinema

Live sound

Dolby Surround systems at a glance

Over the years Dolby has introduced several surround sound systems. Their differences are explained below.

Dolby Stereo Dolby MP Matrix1975Cinema use with optical technology. Uses Dolby A for noise reduction. 4:2 encoded for 35mm film and 2:4 decoded back to 4.0 by Dolby Stereo Processor. Discrete Magnetic 6-Track variant for 70mm.FL FR with C and MonoSurround matrixed
Dolby Surround "1982Consumer Variant of Dolby Stereo. Original Decoder utilized a simple passive L-R Circuit with Delay and Phantom Center for 3-Channel Decoding.FL FR and MonoSurround matrixed
Dolby Stereo SR Dolby MP Matrix1986Addition of Dolby SR Noise Reduction to Dolby Stereo for Enhanced Fidelity and Dynamic Range.FL FR with C and MonoSurround matrixed
Dolby Pro Logic "1986 Modern
Reference Active Matrix 2:4 Decoder (Cat No. 150) for Dolby Stereo and Dolby Surround. Accurately Decodes Lt/Rt to Recover the LCRS 4.0 Surround.FL FR with C and MonoSurround matrixed
Dolby Digital AC-31986 Modern
1992 Film
1995 Laser Disc
Discrete channel encoder/decoder. Pro Logic Decoder can be used for downmixed stereo inputs.FL FR C SL SR SUB
Dolby Digital Surround EX AC-319996.1 or 7.1 Surround via Matrix Encoding of Ls/Rs Channels in 5.1. Remains backwards compatible with standard 5.1 digital.FL FR C SL SR (with matrixed RearMono) SUB [non-discrete 7.1: BackLeft and BackRight]
Dolby Pro Logic II N/A2000Upmixes non-Encoded Stereo to Surround 5.1. Can also be used to decode Dolby Surround for 5.1 Playback. Consumer Decoders often include specific Movie, Music, or Game modes.FL FR C SL SR SUB
Dolby Pro Logic IIx N/A2002Extension to PLII. Enhancement of either Stereo, Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1 to 6.1 or 7.1. Decodes Dolby Digital EX to 6.1 or 7.1. Retains Movie, Music, or Game modes in Consumer Products.FL FR C SL SR SUB Left Back and Right Back
Dolby Digital Plus Enhanced AC-32005Lossy compression codec; 48 kHz sampling frequency, 20-bit word length; supports data rates of 32 kbit/s – 6 Mbit/s, scalable, including 768 kbit/s – 1.5 Mbit/s on high-definition optical discs, typically, and 256 kbit/s for broadcast and online. 1.0- to 7.1-channel support for current media applications; extensible to 16 channels; discrete. Backward compatible with Dolby Digital through S/PDIF connection up to 640 kbit/s. Supports Dolby Metadata.FL FR C SL SR SUB Left Back and Right Back
Dolby TrueHD MLP2005Lossless compression codec; supports 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz sampling frequency up to 24-bit word length; supports variable data rate up to 18 Mbit/s; maximum channel support is 16 channels as presently deployed. Higher bitrate than Dolby Digital Plus. Blu-ray Disc channel support up to eight channels of 96 kHz/24-bit audio; six channels (5.1) up to 192 kHz/24-bit; and two- to six-channel support up to 192 kHz/24-bit maximum bit rate up to the maximum of 18 Mbit/s.
Dolby Pro Logic IIz N/A2009Extension to PLIIx. Decodes Stereo, Dolby Surround or Discrete 5.1/6.1/7.1 to 7.1 Height or Full 9.1 with the addition of Front Height Channels. Last Pro Logic Branded Decoder from Dolby.L, C, R, Ls, Rs, Lrs (Left Back), Rrs (Right Back), LFE, Lvh and Rvh

See also

Related Research Articles

Dolby Digital, originally synonymous with Dolby AC-3, is the name for what has now become a family of audio compression technologies developed by Dolby Laboratories. Originally named Dolby Stereo Digital until 1995, except for Dolby TrueHD, the audio compression is lossy, based on the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT) algorithm. The first use of Dolby Digital was to provide digital sound in cinemas from 35 mm film prints; today, it is now also used for applications such as TV broadcast, radio broadcast via satellite, digital video streaming, DVDs, Blu-ray discs and game consoles.

Home cinema Home entertainment system that aims to replicate the experience of a movie theater

Home cinema, also called home theaters or theater rooms, are home entertainment audio-visual systems that seek to reproduce a movie theater experience and mood using consumer electronics-grade video and audio equipment that is set up in a room or backyard of a private home. In the 1980s, home cinemas typically consisted of a movie pre-recorded on a LaserDisc or VHS tape; a LaserDisc or VHS player; and a heavy, bulky large-screen cathode ray tube TV set, although sometimes CRT projectors were used instead. In the 2000s, technological innovations in sound systems, video player equipment and TV screens and video projectors have changed the equipment used in home cinema set-ups and enabled home users to experience a higher-resolution screen image, improved sound quality and components that offer users more options. The development of Internet-based subscription services means that 2016-era home theatre users do not have to commute to a video rental store as was common in the 1980s and 1990s

Surround sound

Surround sound is a technique for enriching the fidelity and depth of sound reproduction by using multiple audio channels from speakers that surround the listener. Its first application was in movie theaters. Prior to surround sound, theater sound systems commonly had three "screen channels" of sound that played from three loudspeakers located in front of the audience. Surround sound adds one or more channels from loudspeakers to the side or behind the listener that are able to create the sensation of sound coming from any horizontal direction around the listener.

Dolby Pro Logic is a surround sound processing technology developed by Dolby Laboratories, designed to decode soundtracks encoded with Dolby Surround. Dolby Stereo was developed by Dolby in 1976 for analog cinema sound systems. The format was adapted for home use in 1982 as Dolby Surround when HiFi capable consumer VCRs were introduced. It was further improved with the Pro Logic decoding system in 1987.

Ray Dolby

Ray Milton Dolby was an American engineer and inventor of the noise reduction system known as Dolby NR. He helped develop the video tape recorder while at Ampex and was the founder of Dolby Laboratories.

DTS (sound system) series of multichannel audio technologies

DTS, Inc. is an American company that makes multichannel audio technologies for film and video. Based in Calabasas, California, the company introduced its DTS technology in 1993 as a competitor to Dolby Laboratories, incorporating DTS in the film Jurassic Park (1993). The DTS product is used in surround sound formats for both commercial/theatrical and consumer-grade applications. It was known as The Digital Experience until 1995. DTS licenses its technologies to consumer electronics manufacturers.

Dolby Stereo is a sound format made by Dolby Laboratories. There are two basic Dolby Stereo systems: the Dolby SVA system used with optical sound tracks on 35mm film, and Dolby Stereo 70mm which refers to Dolby noise reduction on 6-channel magnetic soundtracks on 70mm prints. Dolby Pro Logic is the domestic equivalent of Dolby stereo and Dolby Surround is the name of the encoding technology used by playback software compatible with Dolby Pro Logic.

Dolby Digital Plus, also known as Enhanced AC-3 is a digital audio compression scheme developed by Dolby Labs for transport and storage of multi-channel digital audio. It is a successor to Dolby Digital (AC-3), also developed by Dolby, and has a number of improvements including support for a wider range of data rates, increased channel count and multi-program support, and additional tools (algorithms) for representing compressed data and counteracting artifacts. While Dolby Digital (AC-3) supports up to five full-bandwidth audio channels at a maximum bitrate of 640 kbit/s, E-AC-3 supports up to 15 full-bandwidth audio channels at a maximum bitrate of 6.144 Mbit/s.

Dolby TrueHD is a lossless, multi-channel audio codec developed by Dolby Laboratories for home video, used principally in Blu-ray Disc and compatible hardware. Dolby TrueHD, along with Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby AC-4, is one of the intended successors to the Dolby Digital (AC-3) lossy surround format. Dolby TrueHD competes with DTS's DTS-HD Master Audio, another lossless surround sound codec.

AV receiver

An audio/video receiver (AVR) is a consumer electronics component used in a home theater. Its purpose is to receive audio and video signals from a number of sources, and to process them and provide power amplifiers to drive loudspeakers and route the video to displays such as a television, monitor or video projector. Inputs may come from a satellite receiver, radio, DVD players, Blu-ray Disc players, VCRs or video game consoles, among others. The AVR source selection and settings such as volume, are typically set by a remote controller.

Cinema Digital Sound (CDS) was a multi-channel surround sound format used for theatrical films in the early 1990s. The system was developed by Eastman Kodak and Optical Radiation Corporation. CDS was quickly superseded by Digital Theatre Systems (DTS) and Dolby Digital formats.

DTS-HD Master Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio is a multi-channel, lossless audio codec developed by DTS as an extension of the lossy DTS Coherent Acoustics codec. Rather than being an entirely new coding mechanism, DTS-HD MA encodes an audio master in lossy DTS first, then stores a concurrent stream of supplementary data representing whatever the DTS encoder discarded. This gives DTS-HD MA a lossy "core" able to be played back by devices that cannot decode the more complex lossless audio. DTS-HD MA's primary application is audio storage and playback for Blu-ray Disc media; it competes in this respect with Dolby TrueHD, another lossless surround format. DTS-HD MA has enjoyed the greater share of this market since 2010, with the notable exception of the TrueHD-encoded Dolby Atmos spatial surround format, which is more popular than DTS's competing DTS:X.

Ultra Stereo is a cinema sound system that was developed in 1984 by chief engineer Jack Cashin.

Sony XEL-1

The XEL-1 is the world's first organic light-emitting diode (OLED) television, designed by Sony in 2007 and produced for sale the following year. It was also the world's thinnest television during its production, at 3 mm. It has a screen size of 11 inches with a native resolution 960×540. As the screen is too thin for I/O ports and buttons, Sony has connected the screen to a non-detachable base that contains it. The top of the base has 2 speakers and the power, volume, channel, input, and menu buttons, which are backlit, so the symbols and abbreviations change when the XMB interface is accessed. The back of the panel has a DMeX service input, a 16-volt DC input, a VHF/UHF/cable input, a Memory Stick slot, and two HDMI inputs. On the left side of the panel there is an analog/digital audio output. The XEL-1 has a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, high color saturation, large viewing angles, high screen uniformity, and low power consumption. On the other hand, it has poor primary color accuracy, a quarter of the full HD resolution (1920×1080), no anti-judder processing, a light-reflective screen, few inputs, a non-detachable panel, a small screen and a MSRP of US$2,499.99. It was sold in the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Europe and Australia. But in 2017, Sony officially sold their first OLED TV in market, BRAVIA OLED A1/A1E with 4K HDR.

Dolby Atmos Object-based surround sound technology

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology developed by dolby. It expands on existing surround sound systems by adding height channels, allowing sounds to be interpreted as three-dimensional objects. Following the release of Atmos for the cinema market, a variety of consumer technologies have been released under the Atmos brand, using in-ceiling and up-firing speakers.

Auro 11.1

Auro 11.1 is one of the cinematic speaker layouts of the Auro-3D format, invented in 2005 by Wilfried Van Baelen. The Auro 11.1 cinema audio format is supported by Barco, a global visualization technology and digital cinema projection company.

Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision is a set of technologies by Dolby for High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. It covers content creation, distribution and playback. Dolby Vision include dynamic metadata that are used to adjust the brightness, color and sharpness of each frame of the video to match the display color volume. It allows for the creative intents to be preserved on all Dolby Vision compatible displays. It was introduced in 2014, making it the first available HDR format.

Dolby Cinema

Dolby Cinema is a premium cinema created by Dolby Laboratories that combines Dolby proprietary technologies such as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, as well as other signature entrance and intrinsic design features. The technology competes with IMAX and other premium large formats such as Cinemark's XD and Regal's RPX.

Ultra HD Forum is an organization whose goal is to help solve the real world hurdles in deploying Ultra HD video and thus to help promote UHD deployment. The Ultra HD Forum will help navigate amongst the standards related to high dynamic range (HDR), high frame rate (HFR), next generation audio (NGA), and wide color gamut (WCG). The Ultra HD Forum is an industry organisation that is complementary to the UHD Alliance, covering different aspects of the UHD ecosystem.

High-dynamic-range video is video having a dynamic range greater than that of standard-dynamic-range video. HDR video involves capture, production, content/encoding, and display. HDR capture and displays are capable of brighter whites and deeper blacks. To accommodate this, HDR encoding standards allow for a higher maximum luminance and use at least a 10-bit color depth in order to maintain precision across this extended range.


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