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What is Dolby Digital Surround EX?


Dolby Digital Surround EX adds a third surround channel to the Dolby Digital 5.1 format. The third channel is reproduced by rear speakers, while the left and right surround channels are reproduced by speakers to the sides. The third surround channel is matrixed encoded onto the left and right surround channels so that no surround information is lost when EX encoded soundtracks are played in conventional 5.1 without a Surround EX decoder.

Dolby Digital Surround EX was first introduced in cinemas with the release of Star Wars: Episode One—The Phantom Menace. The EX format features a third surround channel for playback at the cinema's option over surround speakers located behind the audience, while the left and right surround channels are reproduced by surround speakers to the sides. To maintain compatibility, the back surround channel is matrix-encoded onto the left and right surround channels of the 5.1 mix so that no information is lost when the film is played in conventional 5.1.

Surround EX soundtracks are now also found on the DVDs, and a/v receivers are available with either THX Surround EX or Dolby Digital EX decoding to derive the extra surround channel. As with EX films, DVDs with EX encoded soundtracks can be played in conventional 5.1.

The benefits of Surround EX include more realistic flyover and fly-around effects, a more stable image for atmospheres and music, and a more consistent surround effect throughout the auditorium or home viewing area. For more information on Dolby Digital EX in the home, click here.

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