CES 2009: Dolby Smooths the Volume

Don’t you just hate it? You’re watching a TV show and a commercial comes on with the sound track at twice the volume, blasting you out of your chair. Or in an action movie, the characters are whispering to each other inbetween massive explosions. And you’re sitting there, wearing out the volume buttons on your remote control. Some TV sets do have a noise limiting feature, but this simply clamps down on the loudest passages, without much regard to the sound fidelity.

Enter Dolby Volume, a new technology that solves the volume problem. Not only does it reduce the level of loud segments, it also raises the level of quiet ones. As you might expect from Dolby, however, it does more than just raise or lower the volume. It also adjusts the different levels — bass, midrange, and treble — so that you get an appropriate mix for the changed volume level. This is designed to help keep the sound clear and crisp whether the volume has been raised or lowered.

The Dolby Volume feature will appear on new Regza flat panel HDTVs from Toshiba, as well as an audio-video receiver from Harmon Kardon. And you’ll finally be able to watch television shows and movies without having to clutch the remote control the entire time.