Dolby and dbx

June 21, 2010
in Category: process, tapes
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Dolby and dbx noise reduction system

While there are dozens of different kinds of noise reduction, the first widely used audio noise reduction technique was developed by Ray Dolby in 1966. Intended for professional use, Dolby Type A was an encode/decode system in which the amplitude of frequencies in four bands was increased during recording (encoding), then decreased proportionately during playback (decoding). The Dolby B system (developed in conjunction with Henry Kloss) was a single band system designed for consumer products. In particular, when recording quiet parts of an audio signal, the frequencies above 1 kHz would be boosted. This had the effect of increasing the signal to noise ratio on tape up to 10dB depending on the initial signal volume. When it was played back, the decoder reversed the process, in effect reducing the noise level by up to 10dB. The Dolby B system, while not as effective as Dolby A, had the advantage of remaining listenable on playback systems without a decoder.

Dbx was the competing analog noise reduction system developed by dbx laboratories. It used a root-mean-squared (RMS) encode/decode algorithm with the noise-prone high frequencies boosted, and the entire signal fed through a 2:1 compander. Dbx operated across the entire audible bandwidth and unlike Dolby B was unusable as an open ended system. However it could achieve up to 30 dB of noise reduction. Since Analog video recordings use frequency modulation for the luminance part (composite video signal in direct colour systems), which keeps the tape at saturation level, audio style noise reduction is unnecessary.

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