Analog Devices 3D Sound Processor

As I was walking back from the Runco press conference, I passed a huge room occupied by chip maker Analog Devices, so I stopped in to see what it had cooking. I'm glad I did—among the demos was a new audio processor intended to give soundbars the ability to reproduce a true 3D soundfield, and it worked shockingly well.

Recordings of insects and cars were clearly placed outside the physical cabinet, even above and somewhat behind me, and 5.1 movie soundtracks from a DTS demo disc were rendered with an amazingly convincing surround soundfield. The effect diminishes as you move off center, but it doesn't get phasey or weird.

Interestingly, the system does not rely on reflections from walls or ceilings. Instead, it uses acoustic cancellation that occurs naturally when sound waves travel different distances to each ear. It's an ingenious system that I hope to hear in a commercial product.