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IBC 2014: Fraunhofer IIS Highlights Real-Time MPEG-H Audio Encoder System

At IBC 2014 Fraunhofer IIS is showcasing the next milestone in interactive 3D sound transmission for broadcasters. This new TV audio system is based on the MPEG-H Audio standard, and will allow TV broadcasters to offer live broadcasts with object-based 3D audio across all devices, providing viewers the ability to tailor the audio to suit their personal listening preferences.

With the MPEG-H standard now completed, Fraunhofer is taking industry-leading steps in preparing for field tests and eventual deployment of the technology. Based on the AAC codec family and new technologies, this system will enable broadcasters to upgrade their existing system when adopting MPEG-H without having to go through major equipment changes.

“Our work with the new MPEG-H TV audio system so far has been done by capturing audio from a live event, and then encoding it with software on a computer. At IBC we are showing the next step for live broadcast use - the world's first real-time encoder for interactive and immersive TV audio. With this prototype hardware, we will be able to demonstrate how we can integrate MPEG-H into a broadcaster’s plant for live trials and tests,” said Robert Bleidt, General Manager, Audio and Multimedia Division, Fraunhofer USA Digital Media Technologies. “The system will encode elements of the audio as interactive objects so viewers at home may adjust the sound to their preference. This new hardware will give broadcasters the ability to encode true 3D sound, enhancing today’s surround sound broadcasts to create a truly realistic audio experience,” he added.

At IBC (booth B80 in Hall 8), Fraunhofer IIS will feature a real-time hardware prototype with the ability to encode audio for live broadcasts from stereo up to 3D sound in 7.1+4 H format with additional tracks for interactive objects including commentary in several languages, ambient sound or sound effects.

Fraunhofer’s real-time system is comprised of:

  • real-time encoder for contribution from outside broadcasts to the studio, where a professional decoder recovers the uncompressed audio for further editing and mixing;
  • real-time encoder for emission to consumers - over the Internet for new media use or for trials of upcoming over-the-air broadcast systems such as ATSC 3.0;
  • professional decoder used to monitor the emission encoder's output.

At IBC Fraunhofer will be hosting a joint demo of MPEG-H for TV broadcasting in collaboration with Qualcomm, the primary supplier of mobile chipsets and software, and Technicolor, the leading provider of production services for content creators and distributors all over the world. Fraunhofer invites IBC attendees to visit Hall 8 and 8.B80 to hear the equipment on air. This demonstration builds upon Fraunhofer’s pioneering work with the BBC on Dialogue Enhancement and 2014 field tests with major US broadcasters.

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