Attendees at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, had the opportunity to experience what’s next with headphone audio on mobile devices, thanks to Qualcomm® technology and Dolby® Digital Plus™.

In the Qualcomm Snapdragon™ Theatre just outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center, visitors lounged in cushy seats in a room much like a home theater.

First, they got a sneak peek at the Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures movie Pacific Rim by Academy Award® nominated director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), followed by an ultra HD (4K) clip from digital cinema agency Brain Farm. A quick sound check let the audience identify audio from each loudspeaker around the room, one speaker at a time. This was the first time the general public could experience all of this running on a Snapdragon 800 Mobile Development Platform tablet, connected via HDMI to an ultra HD TV and 7.1-channel surround system.

Next came the magic.

Visitors donned headphones and listened to that same sound check—with none of the audio coming from the speakers.

Initially, most of the audience was puzzled. “When the test pattern demo started, I had to pull a headphone off to make sure the sound wasn’t coming from the physical surround speakers in the room,” remarked Timothy Seppala, who writes for Ars Technica, Gamasutra, and Sound and Vision Magazine. “The audio’s spatial and channel separation blew me away, especially coming from a relatively [inexpensive] set of headphones. I was blown away.”

David Hubler of Geek Magazine concurred. “To be completely honest, my mind is a little bit blown right now. They had us put on these… headphones, and it sounded like the audio was coming from the room. I thought they were lying to us, so they had us take the headphones off and they played the exact same track. It was pretty stinkin’ incredible. I’m really excited for what they’re doing and hope that it’ll be coming out soon.”

A clip from the wildly popular Electronic Arts third-person shooter game Dead Space 3 reinforced the effect, as layers of depth and clarity in the headphone experience drew visitors deep into the action.

The entire demo experience—both over home theater speakers and over headphones—originated from a mobile device powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, available today with Dolby Digital Plus technology, on phones and tablets from leading manufacturers.

Director del Toro, whose movie Pacific Rim will open in North American cinemas on July 12, said of the mobile demo with Dolby Digital Plus: “[It] was pretty outstanding. I think it creates amazing simulations that it is awesome to have in a portable way.”

To learn more about how Qualcomm and Dolby work together to innovate for mobile devices, read the interview featuring John Couling, Dolby’s Senior Vice President of E-Media, and Raj Talluri, Senior Vice President of Product Management for Qualcomm.

What is the most mind-blowing technology demo you’ve ever experienced?