The next battlefield for mobiles is high-definition audio, says DTS

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Imagine this: you are watching a film on your mobile phone, and as the plane flies overhead on the screen, it sounds like it flies over your head.

It sounds amazing, doesn’t it. We’re used to this sort of top-notch sound quality in the cinema, but on a mobile phone it’s not even something we have begun to imagine. While functionability has soared, and screens have become visually better and better, in the mobile space there’s still lots of work to be done on the sound side of things. This is soon set to change, according to DTS, a world-leader in high-definition (HD) audio technology.

‘We passionately believe that sound matters,’ DTS director of mobile and consumer business development, Darragh Ballesty, told TechDigest. ‘Sound is the next differentiator when it comes to experiencing content.’

Immersed in sound
DTS’s audio technology is thea standard in 80% of the US BlueRay market, according to Ballesty, meaning DTS’s expertise and presence in this area made the company ideal when gadget makers wanted to incorporate the same technology in mobiles.

Convergence is the key driver for bringing top audio to the mobile space; people increasingly want to be able to alternate between viewing content on their TV screens, computers, tablets or mobiles. This means there is a need for decent audio quality for all these devices.

‘Our technology can recreate an immersive audio environment even on a mobile phone,’ says Ballesty, explaining how this is possible even using moderately-priced headphones. ‘Interestingly, studies show that if you have better sound, people perceive the video as being better too. And that really matters with smaller screens.’

Better than stereo

So the sound will be better, but exactly how good a sound quality can we expect?

‘We are seeing the sound quality go from “good enough” to being a real alternative to watching content on a big screen,’ says Ballesty, explaining that this change is being driven mainly by customer demand: we are getting used to more and more new groundbreaking technologies, and we want decent sound to go with it.

Specifically, the DTS technology means mobile audio will be ‘better than stereo’, and the technology is ‘trending towards the same experience as in the cinema’, says Ballesty. While background noise will affect the quality of mobile surround sound, Ballesty says the experience will still be good enough for the user to feel immersed in the viewing experience.

The future starts now
These changes are taking place now, with traction set to increase over the next five years, says Ballesty: ‘We have several licencees that are rolling out services this year. … The decisions are happening now.’

T-Mobile and LG have already confirmed the launch of the G2x smartphone with DTS Ultra Mobile, scheduled for launch in the US this spring. In addition to surround sound, the device will come pre-loaded with Google, a 4-inch touch screen, a dual core processor and run on the 4G network.

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  • I think the answer is a definitive yes. Research from ComScore suggests that Music/Video capabilities are the 3rd most important consideration in purchasing a smartphone just behind OS and selection of Apps.

    According to Parks & Assoc 66% of teens are interested in Surround Sound on their next mobile phone.

    Given the trend for 3.5 – 4″ screens on most smartphones, the “HD Video” battle is now pretty much resolved, and the next way that phones can differentiate is by offering “better” audio. Better should mean a higher quality, more immersive experience, particularly as people are spending more and more time actively consuming media (Games, Video Music) on their phones.

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