ITU achieves major breakthrough in audio standards
‘Immersive’ sound will
transform future TV experience
Geneva, 02 December 2013 – ITU has announced a
draft Recommendation for next-generation ‘immersive’ and ‘personalized’
audio systems for television and radio.
Audio is an essential
part of the television experience, as the quality and ‘perception’ of
sound enhances the image on screen. A number of new techniques have been
developed that will heighten the experience and bring it to a new level,
while allowing the audience to personalize their experience.
Twenty years ago, the ITU
Radiocommunication Sector’s Study Group 6 approved Recommendation ITU-R
BS.775 which established 5.1 channels as the surround sound system for
broadcasting. This involved the optimum use of five loudspeakers set at
ear level surrounding the audience plus a low-frequency sub-woofer.
Now, Study Group 6 has
developed a system for the next-generation ‘immersive’ and
‘personalized’ audio system, which will allow TV audiences to be
‘‘enveloped’ in the sound as it traces the source of the audio track
both laterally and vertically across the screen
Deciding which technique
the ITU-R should specify has been one of the hottest subjects of the
audio world for many years. A single coherent approach was needed that
could provide sufficient flexibility to allow a variety of techniques to
co-exist. The newly agreed system has now achieved this.
In the new approach, the
audio landscape that surrounds the viewer is delivered either by
supplying more channels of audio that can be ‘rendered’ for use by any
additional loudspeakers that may be present, or by delivering audio
elements that are ‘dynamically rendered’ into the existing speakers.
The audience can make use
of the new sound system with existing stereo and 5.1 channel speakers
systems; or they can choose to enjoy
more ‘immersiveness’ by installing additional speakers around the room,
including elevated speakers. The key to the new system is that the
delivered channels and sound elements are fully described by metadata
labelling that drives the rendering as well as the reproduction.
The new system may be
used with forthcoming ultra-high definition or UHDTV systems, existing
HDTV or even older SDTV, as well as for immersive audio without images,
such as in radio and audio compact discs and packaged media. The system
enables an environment where the user can interact with the receiver to
create the audio landscape that he or she wishes.
This new draft
‘Advanced Sound System for Programme Production’ is being submitted
to ITU Member States and Sector Members for the combined adoption and
approval procedure. ITU-R Study Group 6 is undertaking further work to
precisely define the universal labelling (‘metadata’) system needed.
“Good quality sound is an
essential part of enjoying television programmes,” said ITU
Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “The new ITU-R Recommendation will
add tremendously to the overall experience of television viewing and
this agreement comes at a time when we are progressing rapidly towards
transitioning to digital broadcasting and adopting ever higher standards
for television, such as UHDTV.”
Mr François Rancy,
Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, commented: “This is a
really important achievement for the media world, and we are proud that
the ITU-R has been the means to achieve it.”
For more information, please see contact:
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information - ITU
Communication Officer, Radiocommunication Bureau