The development of standards for 4K UHD and 3D audio, as well as the integration of the corresponding technologies into the existing broadcast ecosystem, is moving fast in China. Fraunhofer IIS has been highly active in the process from the start and was confirmed as one of the contributors to the upcoming China 3D Audio (C3DA) technology in early 2017. Fraunhofer IIS’ MPEG-H Audio proposal was announced as the draft standard for transmission in March 2018, and by the end of the same year, the relevant C3DA standard document was successfully submitted to Chinese authorities.
In the meantime, the complete signal chain for C3DA production and broadcasting has become ready for commercialization. Fraunhofer IIS has signed cooperation agreements with domestic and international industry partners, and the first products will ship in the near future. The C3DA system has already been put to the test with a trial at CCTV during the 2018 soccer World Cup: Fraunhofer IIS and its partners Jetsen/Auro, Jünger, Kuvision, Hisilicon and Skyworth Digital set up a complete real-time chain and successfully proved the readiness of C3DA for use in broadcasting. The trial system included the master control room (MCR), a postproduction studio and C3DA-enabled consumer devices for playback.
“Together with our Chinese partners, we have managed to develop C3DA into a mature technology. We will continue to facilitate the implementation of the standard with broadcasters and equipment suppliers, as the key drivers for rapid adoption of next‑generation audio are content in the new format, as well as affordable consumer devices able to provide immersive and interactive sound. We will also support the development of set-top boxes for reception of both next-generation and legacy audio formats and support streaming service providers in making use of the advanced features of MPEG-H,” said Toni Fiedler, General Manager of Fraunhofer IIS in China.
In late March, Fraunhofer IIS showcased the end-to-end MPEG-H Audio system together with global partners at China Content Broadcasting Network 2019 (CCBN). The broadcast chain included MPEG-H-enabled 3D audio real-time authoring and monitoring tools for live production, as well as encoders, 3D audio postproduction tools (plugins for digital audio workstations), decoders and set-top boxes. Fraunhofer also demonstrated its 3D soundbar prototype with MPEG-H decoding capabilities and upHear Immersive Audio Virtualizer technology, creating an unrivaled immersive sound experience in consumers’ homes.
MPEG-H Audio can also be experienced at the 2019 NAB Show in Las Vegas, which is still running through April 11: there, Fraunhofer IIS is showcasing the most advanced features of this next-generation audio standard with an MPEG-H Audio end-to-end chain for broadcast and DASH streaming, as well as the latest production tools and authoring units for creating MPEG-H Audio content. Additionally, visitors to the Fraunhofer booth (SU4816) can experience MPEG-H Audio consumer demos, including an MPEG-H-enabled Sennheiser soundbar.