8 things you should know about Auro-3D®

Auro-3D® is one of the first immersive sound formats to make a serious impact in movie theatres worldwide. As Auro-3D® becomes available for higher end home cinemas, Datasat has created this handy guide to this new sound technology.


In the past decade, we’ve seen great advances in 3D visuals. Initially a hit-or-miss gimmick, 3D has become a natural part of the viewing experience, heightening the spectacle and enjoyment of highly acclaimed films such as Gravity. Over the same time period, though, audio has progressed more slowly, seeing only a move from 5.1 to 7.1 surround sound. This situation is now changing rapidly, as truly immersive sound in 3D begins to gain acceptability. Auro-3D® – invented by Wilfried Van Baelen, CEO of Auro Technologies – is one of the first truly immersive sound formats. So here’s few things you should know.

1) Immersive sound goes right over our head

Traditional surround sound places speakers around the listener in a single plane. Auro-3D® makes surround sound immersive by adding height and top layers to the sound field. In this way, sound effects, music cues and ambient noises can come from above around the listener. This is essential as it is the acoustic reflections that come from around us in real life that let us establish where a sound is actually coming from. The 2D nature of traditional surround sound doesn’t allow for this to happen. The height speakers in Auro-3D® when positioned in front, at the side and behind the listener enables us to experience a more naturalistic soundscape.

2) Auro-3D® is a very evolutionary revolution

Auro-3D® supports multiple speaker configurations, including 9.1, 11.1 and 13.1, but Auro Technologies was careful to build the new technology with complete backward compatibility to existing 5.1 and 7.1 standards. In this way, current content already in existence can be upmixed and played in Auro-3D®. Native Auro-3D® content can be easily played back in standard 5.1 and 7.1 systems utilising non-Auro equipment.

3) Auro-3D® shows what you can do with just a few bits

The secret to Auro-3D® lies in a very simple observation: most digital audio recording are mastered with 24 bits. Wilfred Van Baelen noticed that, in the vast majority of cases, at least four of these bits remained unused. Four bits doesn’t sound like much, but it gave him ample space to place the information required to introduce height and top layers into the sound recording. Simple. Well, there was a bit of clever mathematics involved as well.

4) Auro-3D® really took off with Red Tails

George Lucas has always been at the forefront of cinema technology. He was one of the driving forces for surround sound with the original Star Wars series, and famously claimed that sound is 50% of the movie experience. So, it’s not so surprising to find it was a title from LucasFilm that was the first film recorded and released in Auro-3D®. Red Tails told the story of one of the few all-black fighter squadrons in the US Air Force during World War II. The 3D sound gives real bite to the battle sequences. Since then, many major Hollywood releases have featured Auro-3D® with many more featured for release in the next twelve months including The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

5) More people experience Auro-3D® every day

There are now over 150 movie theatres worldwide that are equipped with Auro-3D®. The cinema supplier of Auro-3D® technology is Barco. The company reports that the number of cinemas capable of showing native Auro-3D® movies is growing steadily and an increasing number of audiences are being converted to the benefits of immersive 3D sound formats.

6) Datasat is at the heart of every Auro-3D® cinema system

When looking for an audio processor with the power to drive the Auro-3D® system, Barco and Auro Technologies turned to Datasat. The Datasat AP20 has a reputation as the most powerful, flexible and feature-rich audio processor available for professional cinema. Datasat worked closely with Barco and Auro to develop a new processor – the Datasat AP243D – that would allow movie theatres to fully experience the depth and richness of native Auro-3D® content, as well as to upmix alternative content into Auro-3D®.

7) Auro-3D® isn’t just great for movies

Although the first widespread implementation of Auro-3D® was within cinema, it is not meant to be solely a movie sound format. In fact, Auro Technologies positions the sound format firmly in the consumer electronics arena. It is being made available for in-car systems, mobile phones and tablets. Once you’ve experienced a game played through Auro-3D® it’s difficult to go back -you now know when people are coming from behind you. You really are immersed on the virtual world. Music is enhanced, as are live events. Allied to the latest 3D visual technology, it offers a completely new level of home entertainment.

8) Datasat processors are the first with fully integrated Auro-3D® for the home

The Datasat Reference Series RS20i, our flagship high-end audio processor, was the first to be engineered to integrate Auro-3D® technology for the home. Since then, we’ve also launched the Datasat Luxury Series LS10, an audio processor aimed at the mid-range home cinema market. The Datasat RS20i and LS10 will both be available with Auro-3D® built in; Auro-3D® will also be made available as an optional upgrade to existing installations of either processor.