Dolby Jacks up Gaming Audio

Enhanced surround sound options

GTAIV Dolby

Living in a New York apartment, I barely have room for two stereo speakers – let alone 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 surround-sound rigs. So I may not be the ideal person for Dolby's new Dolby Prologic IIz setup, which features up to 10 speakers, with two up in the air.

Prologic IIz gets its name from the Z-axis that designates depth. In Dolby's setup, it complements the speakers all around the game players with two over their heads—about three feet above the left and right surround-sound speakers. Dolby says this will heighten the realism of, for example, a helicopter flying overhead in a combat game. There aren't any titles that include this height information yet, but Dolby reps say they are "working with game developers."

A little more handy, perhaps, is another new Dolby tech called Axon, which lets you hear where your teammates are in multiplayer online games. Today, dialog all comes out the center channel, regardless of where players are in the virtual field. With Axon, their voices will be matched to their location. So if your buddy is covering your right flank in a combat game, for example, you'll hear him in the right-side surround speaker. As for games with the capability, once again, Dolby says it's still talking to developers.