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ITU approves standards for UHD sound

The ITU has unanimously approved open standards, Recommendation ITU-R BS.2088-0, aimed at delivering advanced sound for broadcasting services that will create a listening experience that is closer to real life.

The new global standards will facilitate the production and exchange of advanced audio files by allowing a single file to carry a complete audio programme containing audio samples as well as metadata for any combination of object, channel and scene-based audio. The new file format was developed based on the existing and widely used RIFF/WAV file format in order to facilitate its application and implementation.

Sound is an indispensable part of television and radio. In real life, we hear sound from all around us – a bird above us, a car behind us, and a voice ahead of us. Emulating this same experience in the media will be ‘immersive audio’. Coupled with new high quality Ultra HD TV, which offers enhanced image rendition, immersive audio will lift the television experience to an entirely new level, further blurring the line between physical reality and virtual or digital simulation.

Future technical capabilities for audio will also allow viewers to select their own menu of services. They will be able to decide on and adjust the level of immersive sound in their living rooms, creating dynamic sound imaging.

These features become possible with ‘object based coding’, which will allow viewers to personalise their viewing and listening experience ‘at the point of consumption’. This could include setting language and dialogue levels and selecting different aspects or sections of programming, which could also bring added benefits for people with disabilities.

“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.”
“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.”

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