Dolby Headphone Surround Receivers

What is Dolby Headphone?


Binaural recordings have been around for quite some time, but Dolby Headphone is something entirely different. So what is Dolby Headphone exactly? The technology aims to take a standard 5.1-channel or even 7.1-channel surround-encoded mix and present it in real space using any pair of headphones or earphones. That means Dolby wants to provide you the opportunity to experience full and immersive surround sound. They ant this even when the source content wasn’t recorded using a binaural microphone (as virtually no surround mix is).

Using Dolby Headphone for Binaural-Like Effects

If you have a pair of headphones, you can experience a really cool binaural environment. Just queuing up the demo video below, sit back, and listen. This Dolby Headphone example utilizes a microphone that captures what your ears capture but subtracts itself from the recording space.

Now, with that in mind, note that Dolby Headphone is a type of DSP (digital signal processing) technology that takes a 5.1- or 7.1-channel surround sound mix and plays it back through any pair of headphones as if it were a binaural recording. It’s actually pretty cool. To experience it, check out this video:

Dolby Headphone Simulates Surround Sound

What Dolby Headphone is doing—and quite well in our opinion—is creating the sensation of being in a well-mixed room that has up to five discrete loudspeakers. If you think about the implications of this, you can begin to see how incredibly useful a feature like this is. From late-night viewing of movies to dorm-room applications and gaming, Dolby Headphone is something that revolutionizes the home theater when you simply can’t utilize full surround sound.

Of course, in addition to getting some pretty decent surround mixes off your headphones, you can also take and upconvert standard stereo tracks to surround as well. That means watching Hulu Plus’ lame stereo-encoded movies might actually be more engaging. And certainly, you can experiment with stereo music tracks to enjoy with a bit more depth and dimension.

What makes Dolby so compelling is that it can be found in any device with a headphone output. It doesn’t have a ton of overhead and the licensing cost seems to be the biggest hangup with respect to mass adoption. So far, the biggest adopters for Dolby Headphone have been Plantronics, Turtle Beach, and Tritton. Gaming applications seem to be the big deal, but we’d like to see more use in home theater applications in the future.

Features of Dolby Headphone

  • Monitors the content of discrete frequency bands
  • Perceived loudness can be adjusted for up to 40 frequency bands
  • Human hearing perception-based DSP
  • Low volume mix restoration and dynamic range compression
  • Works with mono, stereo or surround sound sources

Do you have any devices that feature Dolby Headphone? Are you more interested in this for gaming or home theater? Give us feedback on our Facebook page to let us know.


2 Comments on What is Dolby Headphone?

  1. Adam In Hilton Head

    Loved reading this. It is very difficult to find information about Dolby Licensed/Enabled Technology that has made it from concept to vendor to vendor to consumer headphones in this segment. I have been thrashing the Internet to find a premium Dolby Licensed/Enabled Audiophile Grade set of cans for home theatre. I don’t want to jimmy-rig a set of gaming headphones, I don’t want an external microphone with or without boom, nor an inline/invisible microphone, I can’t easily use a USB or USB Transmitter Interface. I prefer the following: Optical fed Base, premium cans with separate drivers – possibly planar magnetic (wishful thinking) I know! THD, dynamic range, etc. are important but i want the same category of spatial ness and throw that open-back vs. closed back users want. I want to hear footsteps behind me when I am private viewing or late night viewing. I have gone as far as I can go with available tech for my primary system/s. 7.2.4 and 5.2.4 on two of my systems with HDR/Atmos/DTS:X/UHD etc. Can you help me achieve that magic I get from my premium traditional headphones such as my Senn’s or Audezes with lossless content, premium DAC and dedicated Amp? Who has non-gamer- newest gen Atmos or even Standard Dolby Headphones? I don’t want to use premium cans and virtual via Pro or any other compromise! You may be the gent who can solve this riddle for me! Thank you!

    • Teemu Parkkunen

      Did you find? I’ve put Chromecast to video projector. Well, also Macbook Pro to projector.

      How to go about surround headphones? Please ideas everyone! 🙂

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