Dolby Pro Logic is a surround sound processing technology developed by Dolby Laboratories, designed to decode soundtracks encoded with Dolby Surround. Dolby Stereo was developed by Dolby in 1976 for analog cinema sound systems. The format was adapted for home use in 1982 as Dolby Surround when HiFi capable consumer VCRs were introduced. It was further improved with the Pro-Logic decoding system in 1987.
The Dolby MP Matrix was the professional system that encoded 4 channels of film sound into 2. This track used by the Dolby Stereo theater system on a 35mm optical stereo print and decoded back to the original 4.0 Surround. The same 4 channel encoded stereo track was largely left unchanged and made available to consumers as "Dolby Surround" on Home Video. However, the original Dolby Surround decoders in 1982 were a simple passive matrix 3 channel decoder : L/R and Mono Surround. The surround was limited to 7kHz. It also had Dolby Noise Reduction and an adjustable delay for improved channel separation and to prevent dialog leaking and arriving to listeners ears first. The front center channel was equally split between left and right channels for phantom center reproduction. This differed from the Cinema Dolby Stereo system which used active steering and other processing to decode a center channel for dialog and center focused on screen action. Later on in 1987, the Pro Logic decoding system was released to consumers. It featured virtually the same type of 4 channel decoding as the Dolby Stereo theater processor with active steering logic and much better channel separation (up to 30dB) as well as including a dedicated center channel output for the first time. Many standalone Pro Logic decoders also included a phantom center option for compatibility with earlier non-Pro Logic Dolby Surround equipped home theaters to split the center channel signal to the L/R speakers for legacy phantom center reproduction.
Dolby Surround Pro Logic is the full name which refers to the matrix surround format and decoding system in one. When a Dolby Surround soundtrack is created in post production [Dolby MP Matrix], four channels of sound are matrix-encoded into an ordinary stereo (two channel) sound track. The center channel is encoded by placing it equally in the left and right channels minus 3dB; and the surround channel is encoded using phase shift techniques for out of phase information (L-R). The surround channel was often used for ambient background sounds in the original recording, music scores and effects.
A Dolby Pro Logic decoder/processor "unfolds" the soundtrack back into its original 4.0 surround—left and right, center, and a single limited frequency-range (7 kHz low-pass filtered) mono rear channel—while systems lacking the decoder play back the audio as standard stereo.
Although Dolby Surround was introduced as an analog format, all Dolby Digital decoders incorporate a digitally implemented Dolby Surround Pro Logic decoder for digital stereo signals that carry matrix-encoded Dolby Surround. One of the first was the MSP400 surround sound receiver and amplifier by RCA for their high-end Dimensia brand. It was released in 1987 for the Digital Command Component System.
Dolby Surround is the earliest consumer version of Dolby's surround sound decoding technology. It was introduced to the public in 1974 during the time home video recording formats (such as Betamax and VHS) were introducing Stereo and HiFi capability. The name Dolby Surround described the consumer passive matrix decoding technology; the professional, active matrix cinema technology bore the name Dolby Stereo. It was capable of decoding Dolby Stereo 4-channel soundtracks to 3 output channels (Left, Right, Surround). The Center channel was fed equally to the Left and Right speakers. The Surround channel was limited to a 100 Hz to 7 kHz frequency bandwidth, as dialog from the center channel could leak into the surround channel - there was as little as 3 dB of separation between LCR and Surround channels.
Dolby Pro Logic
In 1987 the decoding technology was updated and renamed Dolby Pro Logic.
A Pro-Logic decoder also uses 'Steering Logic', which drives amplifiers, to raise or lower the output volume of each channel based on the current dominant sound direction. For example, while a mono signal is played, the strong correlation to the center channel triggers the output volume of the left, right and surround channels to be lowered. This increases the channel separation achievable, to around 30 decibels between channels. By careful tuning of the response of the amplifiers, the total amount of signal energy remains constant and is unaffected by the operation of the channel steering. Additionally the response time of the system to changes in sound direction is important as too fast a response results in a twitchy feel, while too slow a response leaves sounds coming from an inappropriate direction.
In addition to 5db of noise processing, the surround channel is slightly delayed, so that any front channel sounds that leak into the surround channel arrive at the listener after the front channels. This takes advantage of the Haas effect - audio that is present in the front speakers but delayed in the surround speakers will have the psychoacoustic effect of emanating from the front of the sound stage.
Dolby Surround and Dolby Pro Logic decoders are similar in principle, as both use matrix technology to extract extra channels from Dolby Stereo stereo-encoded audio. The terms Dolby Stereo, Dolby Surround and Lt/Rt are all used to describe soundtracks that are matrix-encoded using this technique. 
Dolby Pro Logic II
In 2000, Dolby introduced Dolby Pro Logic II (DPL II), an improved implementation of Dolby Pro Logic created by Jim Fosgate. DPL II processes any high quality stereo signal source into five separate full frequency channels (right front, center, left front, right rear and left rear). Dolby Pro Logic II also decodes 5 channels from stereo signals encoded in traditional four-channel Dolby Surround. DPL II implements greatly enhanced steering compared to DPL, and as a result, offers an exceptionally stable sound field that simulates 5 channel surround sound.
Because of the limited nature of the original DPL, many consumer electronics manufacturers introduced their own processing circuitry, such as the "Jazz", "Hall", and "Stadium" modes found on most common home audio receivers. DPL II forgoes this type of processing and replaces it with simple servo (negative feedback) circuits used to derive five channels. The extra channel content is extracted using the difference between the spatial audio content between two individual channels of stereo tracks or Dolby Digital encoded 5.1 channel tracks and outputs it appropriately. In addition to five full range playback channels, Pro Logic II introduced a Music mode which includes optimized channel delays, and adds user controls to—for example—adjust apparent front sound stage width.
Pro Logic II system also features a mode designed specifically for video gaming, and was frequently used in game titles for Sony's PlayStation 2, Nintendo's GameCube and Wii as an alternative to digital surround formats such as Dolby Digital, or DTS.
Dolby Pro Logic IIx
A newer Dolby Pro Logic IIx system is also now available, which can take two-channel stereo, Dolby Surround (sometimes called Dolby Stereo Surround) and Dolby Digital 5.1 source material and up-convert it to 6.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound.
Dolby Pro Logic IIz
Dolby Pro Logic IIz expands on Pro Logic IIx with the addition of a height component, creating front height channels above the front left and right speakers, expanding a 5.1 or 7.1 system to 7.1 Height or 9.1. It identifies spatial cues in low-level, uncorrelated information, such as ambience and effects like rain or wind in the side and rear surround channels, and directs it to the front height speakers. The channels it adds are matrixed, not discrete.
Dolby Surround (2014)
Dolby reintroduced the Dolby Surround terminology in 2014 to refer to something entirely new. The term now refers to a new upmixer whose "... purpose is to enable Atmos receivers and speaker configurations to serve non-Atmos signals." Dolby Surround is a complete replacement for Pro Logic that upmixes stereo and multi-channel inputs to play over Atmos configurations. It is:
"...part of the Dolby Atmos bundle of technologies. It is an upmixer designed to function with traditional channel-based layouts, as well as Atmos enabled layouts that include overhead or Atmos-enabled speakers. It processes native stereo, 5.1, and 7.1 content.
How does it work?
The Dolby Surround upmixer is based on phase and gain relationships of elements in the signal, but importantly employs wideband functionality that analyzes and processes multiple perceptually spaced frequency bands in the signal. The benefit is a finer-grained analysis of the source content prior to steering. The result, we believe, is a more accurate soundstage. When employed with overhead or Dolby-enabled speakers there is sense of additional spaciousness or what I call "air."
What's the best speaker configuration for Dolby Surround?
It is not limited to a specific speaker count. It can be employed in a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system, a 24.1.10 Dolby Atmos system, or any speaker configuration in between."
Software encoding and decoding
- The liba52 decoder library for AC3 and A52 digital sound optionally exports Lt/Rt stereo sound compatible with Pro Logic decoders.
- HandBrake and FFmpeg are capable of downmixing Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 to Lt/Rt stereo tracks compatible with Dolby Pro Logic I & II decoders.
- SurCode for Dolby Pro Logic II is a Dolby-certified software encoder and decoder available in plug-in formats for DAWs and as a standalone application.
- Dolby Digital (AC3) compatible hardware (DVDs, TVs, Blu-ray players) downmixes the 5.1 channel tracks into Lt/Rt stereo compatible with Pro Logic decoders
- Dolby encoding and decoding matrices
- Dolby Digital
- Dolby Atmos
- DTS Neo:6
- AV Receivers
- Surround sound
- "Dolby Surround Pro Logic Decoder Principles of Operation" (PDF). Dolby Laboratories. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2014. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
- "Ultimate surround sound guide: Different formats explained". January 2, 2017. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
- "History of Surround Sound Processing: The Battle for Dolby Pro Logic II". Audioholics. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
- "Dolby Pro Logic IIz". Dolby Laboratories. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2009.
- "Meet the New Dolby Surround". Sound & Vision. 2014-11-07. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- "Tech Blog - TV/DVD Surround Encoding Technologies - NEYRINCK". February 26, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2017.