The file format that inspired millions of downloads hopes to inspire music fans to do something else: buy more speakers. Now officially released by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS and Thomson, coinventors of the MP3 format, the new MP3 Surround supports 5.1 multichannel sound.
“We asked ourselves, where can music go?” explains Henri Linde, Thomson’s vice president of new business, intellectual property, and licensing. “It seemed that surround sound was the logical evolution for us.” To encourage people to exploit the multichannel advantages of the new file format, free MP3 Surround encoders will be available until the end of 2005. After that, the encoders will be subject to typical licensing fees.
Software to play MP3 Surround tracks in all their multichannel glory will remain free of charge, and the files will be backward compatible with existing MP3 players. Older players, however, will play back the files as conventional stereo tracks. Consumers will have to purchase new MP3 players and CD players if they want to decode the full MP3 Surround experience. Thomson officials claim that the encoding technology, developed by Agere Systems, increases MP3 files sizes only “marginally.”
Source: PC Magazine