Fraunhofer Aims To Improve Audio Systems for TV, Mobile, and More

The Sports Video Group is pleased to welcome Fraunhofer as a corporate sponsor. For more than 25 years, digital-audio technology has been the principal focus of the Audio and Multimedia division of Fraunhofer. From the creation of MP3 and the co-development of AAC to the future of audio entertainment for broadcast, Fraunhofer brings innovations in sound to reality.

Fraunhofer is currently developing a new TV audio system, which is being considered for upcoming television standards, such as ATSC 3.0. The system is based on MPEG-H Audio, the open ISO standard that includes object-based audio that allows viewers to adjust the sound mix to their preference, boosting hard-to-understand dialogue or creating a “home-team” mix of sports broadcasts.

“We’re excited about the potential improvements in future audio systems, including Fraunhofer’s, will bring to TV, and we want to explain to broadcasters and the creative community what our new system will be capable of [so that they] understand how they might use it,” says Robert Bleidt, division GM, Fraunhofer USA. “This is primarily viewer personalization of the audio mix, and immersive sound so viewers can close their eyes and really feel they are at the event.

“We also want to ensure it fits with the operational practices, plant, and equipment of broadcasters,” he continues, “so there is an easy transition to the future, and to discuss its capabilities with the creative community, so they can envision how to use [it] to make even better content, in the manner that makes sense for them.”

At NAB 2014, Fraunhofer presented content from field tests with broadcasters encoded in MPEG-H and allowed visitors to adjust the mix to their liking with the TV’s remote control, the world’s first object-based interactive real-time audio decoding for TV.

The system may transmit immersive sound with additional front- and rear-height speaker channels, improving today’s surround-sound broadcasts to provide a truly realistic and immersive audio experience on par with the latest cinema sound systems. It is based on a new, efficient audio codec that includes processing to offer an optimized experience with controlled loudness on every device over broadcast, cable, Internet, and mobile networks.

Fraunhofer began supplying surround sound for TV broadcasting in 1998, providing AAC-encoding hardware for Japanese HDTV. Today, the AAC codec family is used to provide half the world’s TV surround sound, including by major broadcasters BBC, NHK, and TV Globo.

In the new media world, HE-AAC Multichannel is the native surround codec of both iOS and Android operating systems, and HE-AAC is the mandatory codec of the DASH standard for Internet streaming. Fraunhofer’s virtual–surround-sound technology Cingo is Google’s choice for its Nexus tablets, and Symphoria will appear soon in cars to provide automotive 3D audio.

Fraunhofer’s latest development is a new interactive 3D audio system for TV.

The company’s IIS technologies enable more than 7 billion devices worldwide, and its audio-codec software is licensed to more than 1,000 companies.

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