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What Is Surround:AI™?

Artificial Intelligence takes home theater sound to the next level.

We’ve written before about how Surround:AI™, the breakthrough artificial intelligence technology in many Yamaha AV receivers, can enhance horror movies, but this time we’re going to dive a little deeper into the technology aspect for all you propellerheads out there.

In a nutshell, Surround:AI analyzes and optimizes the DSP parameters for each scene of a movie five times per second. That means instantaneously analyzing each scene in real time, focusing on distinct sound elements (such as dialogue, background music, ambient sounds and sound effects), and automatically optimizing the overall surround effect for your home theater.

Let’s take a look at how it works. The illustration below shows the audio for a scene in which there is dialogue only, with no background music or sound effects. DSP processing keeps the audio primarily in the center channel, so that the dialogue is clear and intelligible with no unnatural echo:

Screenshot of audio channel output with all waves along the center (dialogue) channel - one long row across bottom of frequency lines clustered along a line.
Dialogue on the center channel.

In your home theater, the sound field is confined to the center channel, as shown in the purple area in the illustration below. This keeps the focus on the actors’ on-screen performance.

Diagram of a living room setup for surround sound with couch facing screen, two speakers a couple of feet behind the couch on left and right plus one each to directly left and right of couch and two more to right of left of screen and a subwoofer on left. All elements face towards couch in a circle or oval.
Sound field is primarily dialogue coming from the center speaker.

In the next scene, background music is added to the left and right channels. Additional processing produces spacious front effects, while the dialogue remains focused in the center:

Screenshot of frequency waves along three continuums - the center, the left and right. Center is a full line with left and right being each 1/2 of a line.
Background music is added on the left and right channels.

As shown by the purple area in the illustration below, the sound field in your home theater now expands to include the left and right front speakers, allowing the background music to accentuate the emotion in the dialogue:

Diagram of living room setup for surround sound with drawing showing additional sound coming from the two speakers adjacent to the screen.
Background music comes from the left and right front speakers.

In the next scene, sound comes from behind you and requires additional rear processing on the left and right surround channels. Note that the dialogue remains prominent on the center channel:

Screenshot showing full lines of audio on center, left and right and half lines of signal on left surround and right surround (rear speakers).
Surround effects on left and right surround channels.

With full 360 degree surround, the sound field feels naturally larger and enveloping, as shown below:

Diagram of living room with surround sound set up showing that there is sound coming from all speakers and creating a consistent experience like the sound is creating a dome over the space.
The sound field fills the room.

In the final scene, all channels are involved, providing effects such as explosions, crashes and shouting. As shown in the illustration below, enveloping DSP processing is applied to all channels:

Screenshot showing all five frequency lines of equal intensity (full length).
All channels engaged.

As shown below, your home theater is cooking on all burners now, with the most immersive surround sound experience possible:

Diagram of living room with surround sound and the diagram shows the "dome" effect being equally distributed with as much sound being generated from rear speakers as front/side ones.
Fully enveloping sound.

Best of all, Surround:AI is easy to use. It doesn’t require changing multiple settings on multiple screens every time you sit down to watch TV. Just press the AI button on your AV receiver’s remote and enjoy your favorite TV shows, movies and sports events for a home theater experience that’s worth staying home for.

Click here for more information about Yamaha AV receivers.

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