US: Dolby has announced that it is to cease manufacturing the Dolby Lake Processor (DLP), writes David Davies. In a statement issued to PSNE, Dolby said that the move had been taken "in response to changing market conditions and to align with its strategic plans" - the latter generally interpreted as a departure from the live sound market. While new orders for the standalone speaker optimisation tool will no longer be accepted after September 30th, Dolby will carry on supporting its OEM licensing agreement with Lab.gruppen, which utilises DLP technology inside its PLM 10000Q Powered Loudspeaker Management system.
The Dolby statement concludes by affirming that the company will "continue to support its obligations for support and supply the promised warrantees on the products already sold".
Launched into the US market in February 2006 ahead of a PLASA showcase that autumn, the DLP - Dolby's first live sound product - facilitates time-saving sound management. The device has since found its way into the touring set-ups of acts as diverse as Slayer and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
However, the DLP technology's high-water mark was arguably reached with its incorporation into Lab.gruppen's PLM 10000Q, debuted at PLASA last year. In fact, Lab.gruppen's head of marketing, Tim Chapman, asserts that the subsequent success of the PLM Series - which brings together system processing, equalisation and digital audio networking - was actually a crucial factor in Dolby's decision to call a halt to DLP production. "This is flattering to Lab.gruppen and to our distributors," he says.
Highlighting user feedback that indicates "distinct performance and sonic quality advantages" for its PLM products over standalone DLP/power amp combinations, Chapman confirms that development of the PLM Series will continue apace, with full support from Dolby: "We see the DLP's discontinuation as a great opportunity to move the live and install markets even faster into integrated systems and, with PLM, we have a proven platform to lead this transition."
While Chapman emphasises the positive, David Haydon - director of long-term UK DLP supplier Out Board - expresses disappointment at the move, citing healthy demand from major name rental house customers such as Britannia Row, Wigwam Acoustics and SSE.
"We're quite frustrated because it was just taking off quite big," he admits, "but there's little you can do when a corporation concludes - probably quite logically in their terms - that an activity is non-core. However, the product is still great and [we] will positively support the purchases made by our customers."