May 26, 2015 9:30 am

Announcing Dolby Audio for high performance audio in Microsoft Edge

Web browser media experiences have advanced significantly in recent years, from the first releases of HTML5 media, through the subsequent additions of Media Source Extensions for adaptive streaming and Encrypted Media Extensions for content protection.  And formats have been similarly advanced by the development of MPEG DASH and Common Encryption (CENC).  These important specifications offered the potential for interoperable, plug-in free web video.  We referred to the resulting experience as Professional Quality Video when we first shipped support for these specs in Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 8.1.

Advancement in media experiences continues in Windows 10 and Microsoft Edge. Today, we are announcing that Microsoft Edge includes HTML5, MSE and EME support for a new audio format:  Dolby Audio™.  It allows websites to match the compelling visuals of H.264 video with equally compelling multi-channel audio.  It works well with AVC/H.264 video and also with our previously announced HLS and MPEG DASH Type 1 streaming features, which both support integrated playback of an HLS or DASH manifest.

Dolby Audio logo

High Performance Media Experiences

We added Dolby Audio to Microsoft Edge so that web apps and sites can deliver the richest and most compelling media experiences with Windows 10.  In particular, we wanted Microsoft Edge to support the most demanding requirements from media websites.  Supporting Dolby Audio fits with this goal.

Dolby Audio

Dolby Audio supports the multi-channel Dolby Digital Plus™ audio format that provides crisp, clear audio in a broad range of channel configurations.  Microsoft Edge is the first browser to include support for Dolby Digital Plus.  Websites will now be able to selectively support Dolby Audio as a premium sound experience, and use HTML5, MSE and EME capability checks to fall back to other supported formats on browsers other than Microsoft Edge.

Windows 10 includes support for the Dolby Digital Plus Portable Mode, which is a dynamic range control setting that is optimized for playback over built-in speakers and headphones. Dolby content will play back louder and clearer with a dynamic range more appropriate for portable devices. This improves the experience from Windows 8 where content could occasionally render softly over built-in speakers and headphones, and the advantages will apply equally to websites running in Microsoft Edge.

Dolby Audio is compatible with current DASH (MP4) and HLS (M2TS) file formats, and so can be included with progressive download HTML5 content, adaptive streaming HLS or MSE/EME MP4 content.

Usage Guidance

There are two adaptive streaming approaches for websites to take advantage of these new formats:

  1. Use either DASH Type 1 streaming (where the DASH manifest (.mpd) or HLS manifest (.m3u8) is set as the src for an HTML 5 media element). Using our DASH Type 1 implementation, it’s important to use the DASH live profile with MPD Type=”static”.
  2. Build a custom adaptive streaming solution using MSE APIs directly. This is more work, but provides the most control over streaming details.

Both the DASH Type 1 and full custom MSE approaches may be combined with Encrypted Media Extensions apply DRM protection.  In Microsoft Edge, this would require supporting PlayReady DRM.

Capabilities

Dolby Audio offers superior performance, but isn’t currently supported by other browsers.  Websites that use it should feature detect on the format and be prepared to stream alternative audio formats on systems that don’t support Dolby Audio.  Javascript examples to check for format support are listed below.

For HTML5:

  • Dolby EC-3: test = myvideo.canPlayType(‘audio/mp4; codecs=”ec-3″‘);
  • Dolby AC-3: test = myvideo.canPlayType(‘audio/mp4; codecs=”ac-3″‘);
  • 264(AVC1): test = myvideo.canPlayType(‘video/mp4; codecs=”avc1.42E01E”‘);
  • 264(AVC3): test = myvideo.canPlayType(‘video/mp4; codecs=”avc3”’);

For MSE:

  • Dolby EC-3: test = MediaSource.isTypeSupported (‘audio/mp4; codecs=”ec-3″‘);
  • Dolby AC-3: test = MediaSource.isTypeSupported (‘audio/mp4; codecs=”ac-3″‘);
  • 264(AVC1): test = MediaSource.isTypeSupported (‘video/mp4; codecs=”avc1.42E01E”‘);
  • 264(AVC3): test = MediaSource.isTypeSupported (‘video/mp4; codecs=”avc3″‘);

For EME:

  • Dolby EC-3: test = MSMediaKeys.isTypeSupported (‘com.microsoft.playready’, ‘audio/mp4; codecs=”ec-3″‘);
  • Dolby AC-3: test = MSMediaKeys.isTypeSupported (‘com.microsoft.playready’, ‘audio/mp4; codecs=”ac-3″‘);
  • 264(AVC1): test = MSMediaKeys.isTypeSupported (‘com.microsoft.playready’, ‘video/mp4; codecs=”avc1.42E01E”‘);
  • 264(AVC3): test = MSMediaKeys.isTypeSupported (‘com.microsoft.playready’, ‘video/mp4; codecs=”avc3″‘);

Dolby Audio Experience Demo

Dolby has created a Dolby Audio Experience demo using WebGL to provide an interactive environment where users can explore and play content on a variety of media devices (a media PC, desktop, laptop and tablet).   Each device demonstrates Dolby Audio with a different streaming video, either MPEG DASH H.264 or HLS.  The demo currently requires Microsoft Edge, since it is the first browser to include native support for Dolby Audio.

Conclusion

The addition of Dolby Audio to Microsoft Edge is intended to open new opportunities for website media experiences.  It is supported only in Microsoft Edge now, but fallback strategies are possible that allow sites to provide the highest quality media experience when supported.

We look forward to your feedback, and hope to see websites using Dolby Audio soon!

– Jerry Smith, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Edge

Updated July 1, 2015 12:09 pm

Join the conversation

  1. Seriously MS !? Have you learned nothing from IE. Stop pushing proprietary non-standard protocols!…..

    • Yeah, Google! Stop pushing VP8 and WebM!…wait…

      The entire idea behind encrypted extensions is that anything going on behind them will be pretty non-standard. Like H.264, this is also something kind of hard to match with any existing open-source solutions. Hopefully, enough patents are open that Firefox could have this implemented at some point; otherwise, yeah, then someone would need IE or another implementing browser to watch Netflix with surround sound.

    • Not sure what is wrong with adding better technologies? I am for all new technologies proprietary or not added to Edge, let the competition start, let the other provide something better!

      I am too sick from “do not add this, do not add that” I am for innovation, invent a new technology or API and add it to Edge and make it work the best, if the other vendors want to add the same thing, let them go ahead, if not, let them propose their technology, wait for 2 years until they implement it and then standardize

      We should never wait years until everyone agrees on something, I am for someone implementing it, and the others scramble to provide something better.

      Some websites or web apps will work only on Edge, and some only in Chrome, I as a developer have the choose and will choose the one that did the best work

      I am very happy to see Microsoft inventing again! Chrome has been the same since the last 5 years, a bit faster, a few new CSS elements and the only remarkable thing is 3D, and the rest of the 5 years are just lost.

  2. That’s nice.

    But shouldn’t you focus first on implementing the codecs that sites are actually using today but don’t work on IE or Edge, like WebM ?

      • WebM isn’t irrelevant thanks to Youtube using WebM as a best experience. H.265 delivers equivalent bitrate reductions for streaming video, enabling either higher quality video, higher resolution video, or both. With mobile being almost high res by default, and right in your face where detail matters, supporting this in your mobile browser should be a no-brainer.

        Youtube has no plans to support H.265, which means a majority of the content produced by non-pro users, such as videos made for Grandma, are not going to use these formats.

        I am all for supporting better audio codecs, such as Opus and DTS-X, and even DDP. So keep up the good work here. Just keep adding more formats. A format war doesn’t help you when trying to gain adoption. When everything just works out of the box, and you become the default browser for new formats, that is how Google’s Chrome has gained marketshare.

    • I am for WebM and WebP, I loved the idea when it was announced 5 years ago, 5 years later and nothing much, the last time Google was trying to finish WebP and improve it was last year
      How many years should we wait until they got WebM and WebP better? You still don’t have the correct tools to process WebP photos, a few command line tools? This is not how you start a new technology.

      Give google the correct amount of time, and WebP will get perfect, but that will require them another 10 years at this speed.

  3. “High Performance Media Experiences

    We added Dolby Audio to Microsoft Edge so that web apps and sites can deliver the richest and most compelling media experiences with Windows 10. In particular, we wanted Microsoft Edge to support the most demanding requirements from media websites. Supporting Dolby Audio fits with this goal.”
    Seems like the only goal satisfied was multi-channel audio. What about supporting more efficient codecs?

    When will we see Opus support?

  4. Will this open door to later have some good support for 4K video and h.265 or HEVC codecs support? If you try to open your own Lumia 4K video on windows 8.1 you might find yourself into trouble.

    This could also enable UHD streaming in windows 10 PC.

  5. How can I access Dolby Digital Plus Portable Mode settings? We had the dynamic range control setting for Dolby audio in Windows 7 (in WMP’s Enhancements menu), but it’s no longer available in Windows 10 and now all Dolby content plays with compressed dynamic range. All I want is the ability to set it to full dynamic range. Please help me to find the setting, I’m using build 10.0.10130.

  6. Excellent! Sound is a big part of my listening experience. Personally, I don’t care at all that it is proprietary.

  7. Why have my Dolby Drivers stuffed up since “upgrading” to Windows 10? I can’t access the correct driver and it is incredibly inconvenient. Why does this bullshit even happen, I paid a premier price I expect a premier service, especially with my sound applications.