Dolby Laboratories' Playback Reference Suite is seen here at the recent CEDIA Expo 2008 in Denver, Colo.
Dolby Laboratories Inc. updated its Playback Reference Suite, which the company uses at international trade shows, by adding a pair of PMC MB2-XBD monitors for the left and right channels, plus an MB2 for the center channel; surrounds are covered by six PMC Wafer 2 flat-panel loudspeakers. A trio of Bryston 7BSST amplifiers powers the front cabinets, while a single Bryston Model 875 multizone amplifier powers the surrounds. Dolby's re-equipped Playback Reference Suite was first used at the recent CEDIA Expo 2008 in Denver, Colo.; it will also be seen at this month's CES 2009 in Las Vegas.
According to John Loose, Dolby's senior manager, A/V and Print Production, the 13x17-foot Playback Reference Suite comfortably seats a dozen participants who can enjoy a short program of surround-sound playback from a variety of sources. "For the recent upgrade, we were looking for loudspeakers that offer a combination of power and sonic beauty. At CEDIA 2008 we used a number of discrete 7.1-channel 24-bit/96kHz mixes from Blu-ray Disc, including a stunning performance by the San Francisco Symphony of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring. We also had a Dolby Volume demonstration that included a segment of the Pride & Prejudice soundtrack, which features a very wide dynamic range."
In addition to three loudspeakers up front, the 7.1-channel format involves both left-side and right-side playback channels, plus conventional left-rear and right-rear channels. A pair of Wafer 2 loudspeakers handle playback for each of the side channels, while single Wafer 2s cover the left and right rears. The entire playback system was calibrated by renowned acoustician Bob Hodas of Bob Hodas Acoustic Analysis.
The Wafer 2 systems were selected for their ease of mounting onto the side and rear walls of the Playback Reference Suite, as well as an acoustic match to the MB Series used for the front channels. In addition, Wafer 2 features switchable HF response, which means that the side panels can be mounted horizontally, one above the other, while the rear panels are configured vertically.
"The L/C/R playback offers plenty of low-frequency response," Loose adds. "And the flat-panel speakers provide a very smooth transition from the front to the rear. All in all, the system produces a very powerful sound, which is critical for demonstrating the 7.1-channel experience."