If you’ve ever been in a movie theatre, the name Dolby Digital is no stranger to you. Ray Dolby, veteran of the audio industry and the genius who rid the world of the “hiss” passed away at the age of eighty on September 12, 2013. Dolby battled Alzheimer’s Disease for several years and only two months ago was diagnosed with acute Leukemia.

According to The Verge, Ray Dolby revolutionized surround sound, noise reduction, and the theatre experience.

Dolby Digital is the name given to audio compression technologies developed by Ray Dolby and his team at Dolby Laboratories. One of the standout moments where Dolby’s technology took center stage was in mixing sound for George Lucas’ Star Wars movies. Speaking to Variety, former colleague Michael Minkler said, “in 1977 when we mixed ‘Star Wars,’ there’s literally no way a movie of that magnitude was ever going to make it without Dolby Noise Reduction… If Ray Dolby’s inventions had never happened, (the mix for ‘Star Wars’) could not have happened.”

Ray Dolby was a man who knew what he wanted to do and wasn’t in the business of improving sound for the money. A real giver, many in the industry looked up to Dolby and have fond memories of his work as well as his talent.

Producer Bob Marini, an Audio Engineering graduate of the Eastman School of Music, shares, “Dolby’s invention of ‘noise reduction’ was unique in that engineers used it to suppress noise, but also to encode the audio so that when recording with Dolby on, and playing back audio with out decoding it, it created a desirable crispy treble effect. I did that all the time, especially on drums.”

Dolby’s products have been incorporated into 2 billion consumer products and thousands of movie theatres. Used in everything from film to video games, the Dolby name will live on for years to come.

Source: The Verge

Image: FlickrCC/Clyde Adams III


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