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Dolby dives into digital music waters

Advanced Audio Coding more efficient than MP3

HOLLYWOOD — The name is synonymous with quality in bigscreen audio and home entertainment, and now Dolby Laboratories is taking on Internet music delivery.

Its new Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) streaming technology is more efficient than MP3, requiring about 30% less bandwidth, and it delivers broadcast quality — meaning it’s virtually indistinguishable from the source signal. It delivers CD-quality sound at 128 kilobytes per second, compared with the half-as-fast 64 kbs standard of MP3.

“This allows users to store more music in a limited amount of memory, or allows higher-quality audio to stream over limited bandwidth connections,” says Andrew Fischer, Dolby’s business development manager for the new technology. “And because AAC is licensed in the context of secure distribution, artists and labels will be able to protect their copyrights and sell their content online.”

AAC already has been adopted overseas — the technology is being mandated for all of Japan’s digital broadcast infrastructure — and domestically, AAC has attracted the attention of online music distributors such as Liquid Audio, Universal Music Group and Bertelsmann’s BMG plus digital-device makers Toshiba and Panasonic.

AAC, however, has yet to be adopted by Internet streaming powerhouses Windows Media Player and RealNetworks’ RealJukebox and RealPlayer, key hurdles that the nascent technology will have to overcome before it can achieve industrywide acceptance.

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