Soon your MP3 files could be sounding even better.
The Fraunhofer Institute has found a way to reproduce surround sound in a way that works with small MP3 files.
Using a small amount of additional information added to an MP3 encoding stream the technology catches information about where sounds are supposed to be coming from.
Fraunhofer said that the system it developed would work with existing MP3 software and music players.
Surround sound is usually produced by recording audio on different channels so it appears to come from three or more directions.
But more channels means more data making it a poor candidate for converting into small files that can easily be swapped online or put on a portable player.
However, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have come up with a way to preserve this information without resorting to recording huge amounts of data.
Fraunhofer reproduces surround sound by adding to MP3 encoding extra information that describes the spatial characteristics of the main audio track.
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Original URL, circa 2004: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3550833.stm