3D Audio

The maturing of 3D movies has given the cinema industry a real boost. Now, audio is undergoing the 3D revolution to provide a true-to-life and highly immersive sound.


There is currently a great deal of interest around 3D audio. It’s widely expected to be the next real step forward in the cinema experience. A way of creating the most life-like and immersive listening experience. As dramatic a development as digital surround sound was 20 years ago.

The concept behind 3D audio is not particularly new. Surround sound focus on the horizontal plane. With 3D audio, we have added height into the system and the left and right channels are supplemented with a central channel. This makes a 9.1 configuration appropriate for home cinema but professional cinema configurations are more likely to take 11.1 or 13.1 formats.

Properly positioned speakers and a precisely tuned room allows for highly accurate localization of the sound event. The sound is natural to the listener, moving them to the center of the action.

The key to the success of 3D audio is the ability to deliver it cost-effectively to the cinema exhibitor. It must offer an easy upgrade path both in terms of theater design – adding height speakers rather than redesigning your entire speaker arrangement – and digital format so that the movie plays in 3D audio where available but folds down seamlessly to 5.1 and 7.1 where the cinema has yet to upgrade.

Datasat Digital Entertainment is committed to 3D audio. The Datasat AP20 is capable of delivering true 3D sound today and the Datasat AP243D is the audio processor at the heart of the commercially available 3D audio system, the Auro3D.


The standard speaker configuration for 3D sound at home is 9.1. This positions four speakers above the horizontal axis at each corner and places the sub woofer centrally:

For professional cinema implementations, this configurations is augmented with left and right speakers between the ‘corner’ speakers to provide an 11.1 set-up (see diagram below). It is likely that 13.1 will also become a common configuration for 3D sound in theaters.

Auro3D, the first commercially available 3D cinema sound system, follows the 11.1 configuration shown above