Dolby E

Dolby E and PCM Solutions for Broadcast

Dolby® E provides the ability to carry up to eight channels of audio with metadata over existing stereo infrastructures. For PCM-based workflows, Dolby offers solutions for metadata carriage outside of Dolby E.

Dolby E Benefits

The Dolby E encoding system benefits postproduction and broadcasting infrastructures that are constrained in the number of available audio channels.

Provides up to eight channels of audio: a single Dolby E stream can carry a 5.1 surround soundtrack and two additional tracks, which can be used for a stereo mix or a foreign language version, or as specialized tracks, such as those for the visually impaired.

Enables simple contribution of multichannel audio for live events.

Provides frame-accurate audio to ensure effortless switching, editing, encoding, and decoding.

Gives content providers unprecedented control of program reproduction by including both consumer and professional Dolby metadata.

Allows audio to be repeatedly encoded and decoded throughout the broadcast chain without any discernable loss of audio quality.

Enabling Multichannel Audio from Live Event Broadcasts

The Dolby E encoding system enables the production and broadcast of live events. It facilitates the contribution of multichannel audio from the outside broadcast location back to the broadcast center.

The system has been used in the broadcasting of professional sports games and tournaments, awards shows, and live music events.
The format has won multiple awards, including a technical Emmy®.

How It Works

Dolby E enables distribution of up to eight channels of audio, plus metadata and timecode, via the existing stereo channels (AES/EBU) available on conventional digital videotapes, video servers, communication links, switchers, and routers.

The metadata embedded within Dolby E is designed to interface directly with the Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby Digital format.

The Dolby E signal doesn’t reach viewers at home; it is decoded back to baseband audio just prior to the final DTV transmission, and then reencoded into the final audio format specified by the various DTV emission systems.

The system latency is fixed to one frame per encode or decode cycle.

PCM Solutions with Metadata

As the professional production environment has evolved, Dolby Laboratories has released the Dolby E metadata specification to the industry to allow the carriage of metadata outside of the Dolby E format. 

The carriage of Dolby E metadata is also supported alongside PCM in XML, DBMD, and the vertical ancillary (VANC) data space. This enables the file-based carriage of multichannel PCM audio with Dolby E metadata in WAV, XML, MXF, and MOV files.

Technical details can be found in the following specification documents, available through their respective organizations:

EBU Tech 3285, supplement 6

SMPTE 2020


Solutions for Professional Partners

Integrate Dolby technologies into your products. We offer comprehensive solutions for both hardware and software products.

Audio coding algorithm: Dolby E

Dolby E program configurations (user selectable): 5.1; 3×2; 5.1+1+1; 6×1; 5.1+2; 8×1; 4×2; Others selectable

Audio sampling rate: 48 kHz

Video frame rates: 29.97 fps (NTSC); 25 fps (PAL); 23.98, 24, 30 fps (requires DP579 Dolby E Tri-Level Sync Interface)

Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz, ±0.25 dB

Distortion: <0.01% at 1 kHz; <0.02% at 20 Hz to 20 kHz

Dynamic range: >110 dB

Delay: Encoding: fixed, one video frame; PCM delay channel: fixed, one video frame

Dolby E

Dolby E is a professional audio coding developed to assist the conversion of broadcast and other two-channel facilities to multichannel audio. It allows an AES/EBU audio pair, or a single pair of digital VTR audio tracks, to carry up to eight channels of broadcast-quality audio for postproduction and distribution. Among other benefits, Dolby E encoded audio can be edited, decoded, and re-encoded many times without audible degradation.

Choose from the drop-down menus below to get Dolby professional reference material.