An extension to the existing Dolby Digital (AC-3) multichannel audio coding standard is described and its new capabilities explored. This coding system is designed with extensive compatibility with the existing standard by retaining most of its metadata and data-framing structure to preserve and extend functionality in existing applications. New features include simultaneous support for multiple program streams, carriage of multichannel signals beyond 5.1 channels, and fine-grained control and support for data rates up to 6.144 Mbps. New coding "tools" including spectral extension, enhanced channel coupling, transient pre-noise processing, and improved filterbank/quantization enhance the performance of earlier AC-3 technology.
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