Fraunhofer IIS presented MPEG-H 3D Audio and upHear at NHK STRL Open House event

Under the motto “taking media beyond the box”, Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK recently held its annual STRL Open House event in Tokyo. Fraunhofer IIS presented TV audio developments established in collaboration with NHK.

Every year, the NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories (STRL) host their Open House event, this year for the 73rd time. Visitors had the opportunity to explore around 30 exhibits, each aiming to provide new viewing experiences that go beyond traditional television. Fraunhofer IIS contributed to two of the projects exhibited.

NHK’s Next Generation Audio services with object-based sound systems make use of an MPEG-H 3D Audio encoder/decoder created in cooperation with Fraunhofer IIS. The encoder can feed audio-related metadata that describe the characteristics of audio materials, such as their combination or their reproduced positions. To this end, NHK and Fraunhofer have developed a metadata interface for the MPEG-H 3D Audio real-time encoder, complying with audio-related metadata S-ADM (Serial Audio Definition Model),
specified in Recommendation ITU-R BS.2125 (https://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/bs/R-REC-BS.2125-0-201901-I!!PDF-E.pdf). Additionally, the interface can synchronize metadata streams with sound signals using existing digital audio interfaces.

The object-based system provides the sound signals and their metadata, with the TV receiver then converting these signals to sound best on the respective audio system in use. With MPEG-H 3D Audio, viewers can switch between audio objects provided such as languages, commentaries or audio description, and adjust their volume to suit their own preferences and listening environments.

Also in collaboration with Fraunhofer, a renderer was implemented in the MPEG-H Audio real-time decoder and presented in the form of a soundbar reference design that supports various loudspeaker configurations – starting from stereo, up to 22.2 multichannel sound. This device is the world’s first 22.2 soundbar based on Fraunhofer’s upHear Immersive Audio Virtualizer technology.

The MPEG-H 3D Audio real-time encoder/decoder is also used in large-scale field trials of an advanced digital terrestrial television broadcasting (DTTB) system for transmission of Super Hi-Vision. Using the advanced DTTB system, which is currently under development and being verified through the large-scale field trials, 22.2 channel audio and 8K video streams were transmitted from Tokyo tower to NHK STRL at the Open House event.

NHK’s Science and Technology Research Laboratories (STRL) were established in 1930 and have been contributing to and promoting research, development and implementation in the field of broadcasting technologies ever since. Their work has led to many milestones, the most recent one being that NHK became the world’s first broadcaster to transmit television programs in 8K.

Take a look at NHK’s recap of the event here: https://www.nhk.or.jp/strl/open2019/index_e.html

Header image: © NHK, https://www.nhk.or.jp/strl/open2019/tenji/15_e.html

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