In next-gen TV, the sound is the star

In next-gen TV, the sound is the star

By eeNews Europe

The MPEG-H 3D Audio system that will be associated to UHDTV, provides a range of additional options for television viewers. For instance, users can set sound characteristics and volume independently on different terminal devices and enjoy the sound in what Fraunhofer calls 3D quality. But wait: Isn’t stereo or 5-channel sound already 3D? The Fraunhofer researchers have a different vision in mind. Thanks to 3D sound, TV users get the feeling of being amidst the action – they do not only see a football game like they were themselves in the stadium but they also get the acoustic impression of being present in the arena, promises Fraunhofer. They can select between multiple audio elements – for instance, they can select the comment between home and guest team or original atmospheric stadium sound. MPEG-H 3D also enables each viewer to set its individual balance of stadium and voice. “the individual sound setting is done in the living room, by the user”, said Matthias Rose from Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (Fraunhofer IIS) in Erlangen, Germany. The institute is coordinating the development activities for the new sound technique. “Not exclusively at the broadcaster as was hitherto the case.”

In addition, object-based audio transmission which is part of the MPEG-H 3D standard, provides a three-dimensional sound experience in the living room, provided the respective consumer has an adequate loudspeaker setting. “Thus, the TV consumer is much more integrated into the visual context.” Rose says.

The MPEG-H 3D standard offers multiple options to transport the soundtrack: First, the audio channels can be broadcasted directly. This is the conventional approach we already have in use today. It also can be broadcasted as a scene-based representation of the audio signal (High Order Ambisonics). Plus it is possible to decompose the audio elements and broadcast them separately as “audio objects”.

“It can be expected that the audio signal in the future will consist of a channel- or scene-based description of the music and sound effects, the sound bed and several audio objects that will contain voice elements in the first place”, Rose explains.

The public availability of this technique however can be expected only in a couple of years. First the new technology has to be fully standardised for broadcast use before it can be rolled out to TV set manufacturers and the broad public.

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