There are a number of choices on the market for encoding and decoding multi-channel audio streams for surround sound applications. Some of those are carryovers from older technology while some are overly constrained due to specific hardware support for varying equipment. ASTi has worked diligently to come up with a system that provides a cutting-edge, immersive listener experience as well as supporting a wide array of hardware and speaker setups.
ASTi's Earshot vs. a traditional 5.1-channel surround system is quite different. 5.1-channel only supports a total of six speaker channels (left, center, right, left rear, right rear and a subwoofer). Earshot can support an almost unlimited number of channels to give a superior immersion factor. 5.1-channel systems have very specific and fixed speaker locations in order to perform well. Earshot is capable of any speaker arrangement and allows for user-definable speaker locations. It also supports audio in all three dimensions (left/right, front/rear and up/down).