XM Announces Surround Sound via Satellite

XM Satellite Radio tuner and 5.1-channel Neural Surround decoder

Stereo music has been compared to black-and-white TV, with surround sound akin to color. So you might say that XM Satellite Radio has announced it will be broadcasting in living color. Beginning in March, XM channels 76 (Fine Tuning) and 113 (XM Pops) will be full 5.1-channel surround 24 hours a day. The new format will be known as XM HD Surround, powered by technology from Neural Audio.

XM is demonstrating the format continuously at the show, and an Eagles track produced all the multichannel audio excitement I've come to love from their terrific Hell Freezes Over concert DVD. For XM subscribers, this could be another compelling reason (besides the new Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD surround formats developed for Blu-ray and HD DVD) to upgrade receivers and surround processors. Because to experience the 5.1 surround you'll need a Neural Surround decoder. Receivers satisfying that requirement are expected from Yamaha, Denon, Pioneer, and Onkyo by the second quarter of this year. XM subscribers without Neural Surround decoders will still be able to enjoy the programming on channels 76 and 113 in stereo, however.

XM president and CEO Hugh Panero noted that "XM is the first radio company - satellite or terrestrial - to broadcast 5.1 surround sound 24 hours a day." Although no announcement was made at the show, it would be safe to assume that Neural Surround-equipped car stereo head units will soon appear, taking this exciting development out on the road.

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