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ITU announces new open "immersive sound" standard

19 Oct 2015 | Rasmus Larsen |

ITU, which helped define the Ultra HD standard, has proposed a new open standard named "immersive sound" that will “transform the listening experience”. It will make use of object-based sound, which is also the foundation for Dolby Atmos.

Object-based sound

ITU is an agency who develops technical standards for global use and is one of the major forces behind the Ultra HD standard. ITU wants to do the same for audio with a new open standard referred to as “immersive sound”.

"ITU-R BS.2088-0" is a “recommendation” aimed at delivering much improved sound quality for broadcast TV. The goal is to create a single file that can contain metadata and any combination of "object, channel and scene-based audio". To realize that goal, ITU has developed a new file format called BW64.

- “The ITU global standard for immersive audio sets an important step for an exciting new age of ‘sound’ for broadcasting,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao; “The advanced audio systems will provide additional features and performance well beyond those available today.”

Dolby Atmos

ITU says that the new open standard will “create a listening experience that is closer to real life”. Dolby and DTS are also working on object-based sound formats with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, but these formats are not free to use. Dolby and DTS’s audio systems will typically be included on Blu-ray discs but ITU wants to create a sound standard for other distribution channels. With object-based audio technology it is possible to place “sound objects“ in the room by using several speakers and advanced algorithms.

- “The role that sound plays in the media is under-estimated,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau; “The work of ITU, along with other standards bodies, is creating a very exciting future for audio production, delivery and programming.”

Another capability of the format is that it will allow viewers to adjust the “level of immersive sound”, for example by adjusting dialogue audio level.

ITU believes that “Ultra HD” and "immersive sound" will “lift the television experience to an entirely new level”. More technical details on BS.2088-0 are available here. Hopefully partners will start to embrace ITU’s new format in the near future.

- Source: ITU

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