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Apple's QuickTime 7.6 to improve 5.1 surround sound

With an influx of Dolby Digital enhanced HD content making its way to the iTunes store, and subsequently Apple TV, Apple is reportedly working on an update to QuickTime that will improve support for 5.1 channel audio.

People familiar with the matter say the Cupertino-based electronics maker tapped its vast developer community on Tuesday to begin testing versions of QuickTime 7.6 for Windows, as well as both Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.

The pre-releases, which reportedly carried build number A26, ranged in size from about 20MB to over 60MB, but were consistent in that they delivered the same series of enhancements requiring evaluation.

In particular, those familiar with the software say Apple has requested that developers test the release extensively with multi-channel encoded audio tracks that feed unique content to each surround sound channel.

Developers were also asked to put some weight on MPEG-1 playback and conversions, as well as encoding and playback of audio tracks in the AAC and Apple Lossless formats.

QuickTime 7.6 is one of only a handful of remaining updates planned for Apple's existing QuickTime architecture before the company turns the majority of its focus to QuickTime X — a complete overhaul to the media software with optimized support for modern audio and video formats that should result in extremely efficient playback.