'Taking surround sound to new heights' is Dolby's CES message, with the launch of Dolby ProLogic IIz processing, which enables the addition of two extra 'front height' speakers to your home cinema set-up.
The company explains: "Through the addition of a pair of speakers above the front left and right speakers, Dolby ProLogic IIz introduces a vertical component to the horizontal sound field of a conventional 5.1- or 7.1-channel surround sound system"
"The enhanced spatial effects bring an overall airiness to the listening experience, a new dimension of presence and depth," Dolby adds.
ProLogic IIz also offers all of ProLogic IIx's abilities to produce surround mixes of a range of stereo music, TV, gaming and movie content.
Making movies extra scaryDolby is demonstrating ProLogic IIx taking non-directional elements of a movie soundtrack - rain and wind, for example - and pumping them through those extra two front speakers to create extra ambience. It's highly effective in conveying the atmosphere of a movie - creepy horror-film moments particularly!
More after the break
Future applications are expected to include specifically mixed soundtracks for gaming.
It's not a new concept, of course - higher-end receivers have used their own processing modes to allow for front presence speakers for several years now (Yamaha's DSP-Z9 being a notable example).
Onkyo first with ProLogic IIz
However, Dolby ProLogic IIz makes the processing available to a wide range of receiver manufacturers, to add to products at a range of price-points.
Indeed, the first receiver to feature ProLogic IIz will be Onkyo's forthcoming TX-SR607 - the replacement for the hugely popular £400 Onkyo TX-SR606. Onkyo's new range is due in the summer (and we'll bring you video footage of the TX-SR607 in our CES report).