Developed by Fraunhofer IIS, Dolby Laboratories, LSI Corporation and Philips, MPEG Surround is a feature-rich open ISO standard compression technique for multichannel audio signals. It can operate on top of any core audio codec—for example, AAC, HE-AAC and MPEG-1 Layer II—and provides a comprehensive feature set, including: highest surround and stereo audio quality; bit-rates currently used for compression of stereo signals; full backward compatibility to legacy stereo equipment; wide scalability in terms of the bit-rate used to describe the surround image; optional compatibility with matrixed surround stereo signals; and virtualized binaural multi-channel sound reproduction capability for stereo headphones. Using transmitted side information in the receiver to produce a faithful reconstruction of the original surround source, MPEG Surround enables high-quality surround sound experiences at home, at work and on the move. It also has tremendous benefits for content producers and broadcasters, a number of whom have already adopted the technology. This article outlines the principal features, key benefits and possible applications of a technology that was approved as a part of the International MPEG-D Standard in early 2007.

Reprinted in its entirety from ARM IQ Vol. 7, No. 4, 2008