Bob Katz (pictured), mastering engineer and president of Digital Domain, has been awarded a patent by the United States Patent Office for his circuit design, "Process for Enhancing the Existing Ambience, Imaging, Depth, Clarity and Spaciousness of Sound Recordings." Better known as K-Stereo and K-Surround, these processes recover lost or amplify hidden ambience, space and imaging, and generate stereo from mono signals without adding artificial reverberation. The patented K-Surround has been used to process re-mastered 5.1 mixes of old films for DVD release.
Digital Domain manufactures the rack-mountable DD-2 K-Stereo Processor unit with its K-Stereo process, plus a 2-band EQ and POW-R Dithering. The K-Stereo and K-Surround circuits have been licensed by Digital Domain to Weiss Engineering of Switzerland and Z Systems of Gainesville, Fla. Weiss incorporated the patented K-Stereo process in the Weiss DNA-1, a high-end, multifunctional digital mastering device. Katz uses the DNA-1's noise reduction and ambience recovery features in his Digital Domain mastering suite.
Z Systems features the K-Surround in its z-K6 stereo-to-surround processor. The K-Surround process takes the ambience in a stereo recording and spreads it across the surround channels. In this manner, the listener is completely enveloped in the recording's natural ambience.
Walt Disney Records recently released a limited edition boxed set of music, vocals, park rides and archived audio dating as far back as 50 years. "The K6 was a great help because it didn't squeeze the image, which would have been a problem as we went from track to track," says Jeff Sheridan, the re-mastering engineer for the project. "The other thing that was absolutely awesome about the K6 was the ability for the audio to remain mono-compatible. We were very, very happy with the results."