At CES 2017, Wilfried Van Bealen, the pioneering mind behind Auro-3D, treated me to a private demo that highlighted a great use for 3D immersive audio, which is upmixing music. While Dolby Atmos and DTS:X have their own upmixing algorithms, Auro-3D promises a better result because it allows users to tweak numerous parameters, resulting in a premium listening experience.

Prior to the music demo where I chose the tracks to play, I checked out some native Auro-3D demo clips I've heard before. These clips include a recording of a tractor driving by, organ music in a cathedral, and an airplane flyover. Additionally, there was a clip from Amazing Spider Man 2, mixed in Auro-3D. All the clips sounded great and were fully immersive as rendered by a StormAudio ISP 3D.16 Elite pre/pro.


This StormAudio processor fed the active PMC monitors in the Auro-3D system. Resting above it is a Trinnov that was not used in the demo.
Listening to music I play at home and am familiar with upmixed in Auro 3D was the highlight of the demo. The ISP 3D.16 Elite fed immersive audio to a PMC twotwo.6 active speaker system that did an outstanding job of faithfully rendering the tracks without exaggeration or artifice. And yet, when called for, the system pulled off the hat trick and created a 3D ambience that appropriately flattered the music that was playing.

From Sly and Robbie's "Satan Fall" to Jon Kennedy's "Rock The Beat," big spacey sounds took on tangible ambience that was not confined to the bounds of a Las Vegas hotel room. The bass line in "Rock The Beat" sounded huge, as it's supposed to. Handling tight spaces and making walls (and ceilings) disappear is an Auro-3D specialty, which is why the format will make an appearance in the 2017 Porsche Panamera.

The only snag we ran into during the demo was when I requested ScHoolboy Q's "By Any Means." The system played the explicit lyrics version of this rap track, and it took less than two minutes for  an irritated looking gentleman to enter the room to request that the volume be turned down. Kudos for Wilfried and Auro-3D for entertaining the request though, I am sick and tired of the same old audio show demo music and want to hear some hip hop and specifically some rap music. 2017 is the year Tupac gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so I think it's about time the genre got its due.

"Espionage" by DJ Cam Quartet is also rap, but with jazz as the backdrop. Apparently this was a lot more palatable than ScHoolboy Q and demonstrated how the system can keep the focus on a properly proportioned soundstage. "Be the Revolution" by Love and Rockets was big fun to hear upmixed by Auro, the wailing guitar sounds filled the room and seemed to float around in a psychedelic haze of noise. As far as my chosen tracks go, the Auro-3D upmix aced 'em all. Fun times, and motivation enough to check out the Auro-3D upgrade on my Marantz SR-7010. It turns out I may have been missing out by not leveraging Auro-3Ds prowess at upmixing 2-channel (and even mono) music tracks.
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