Fraunhofer Audio Blog

MPEG-H now Included in DVB Specification

January 31, 2017 | Category: Audio, Broadcasting
© Fraunhofer IIS

The latest development in digital television is the leap from HD to Ultra High Definition (UHD). This brings with it with a revolution in TV sound: in the future, TV viewers will be able to not only experience 3D audio in the comfort of their own homes, it will also be possible for them to adjust the audio settings of single TV shows according to their specific preferences. To this end, the audio codec MPEG-H has been integrated into the DVB UHD standard.

The MPEG-H TV Audio System was substantially developed by Fraunhofer IIS. It enables the broadcast of immersive 3D sound in order to acoustically pull the viewer into the center of action. Furthermore, a personalization of TV sound by simply using a TV remote control is made possible: for instance, viewers will be able to choose between various commentators during the broadcast of a sports event, listen to the fans’ chanting and nothing else when watching a football match, or follow the team radio talk of their favorite racing car pilot during a race.

MPEG-H has been integrated into the DVB standard within the framework of UHD-1 Phase 2. In the preceding first phase of UHD standardization in DVB, which had started in 2014, a higher resolution was defined. This meant a doubling of rows of pixels from 1080 to 2160 and also of columns of pixels, from 1920 to 3840 (4K-resolution). The second phase comes with numerous enhancements which shall contribute to an improvement of audio and video quality in TV broadcasting: apart from MPEG-H, these include High Dynamic Range (HDR) for better contrast ratio as well as Higher Frame Rates (HFR) exceeding the so-far-usual 50 or 60 Hz, in order to enable clearer images of moving objects.

The UHD-1 Phase 2 specification for digital television DVB is an important milestone for the industry. Thanks to its inherent guarantee of interoperability, TV stations and manufacturers of consumer electronics will now be able to introduce new services and devices. As a result, many countries and regions in which DVB is used will be able to upgrade their digital TV systems to UHD quality in the near future.

The MPEG-H TV Audio System is already part of the North American ATSC 3.0 Candidate Standard. The specification for South Korea’s new terrestrial UHD TV system, to be launched in 2017 in the Seoul area, is based on this UHD TV standard as well. After the start in Seoul, the UHD broadcast will be extended to venue cities of the Olympic Games 2018 in Pyeongchang, eventually the service will be available all over the country in 2021. Professional broadcast devices which support the MPEG-H TV Audio System are already available and MPEG-H-enabled TV sets have for instance been announced by LG at CES 2017.


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