EBU tests next-gen audio at Eurovision Song Contest

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The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is providing a testing ground for new audio technology that is transforming the way content is produced and consumed.

The EBU and its technology partners are mounting a parallel production of the event, mixing and transmitting it live with Next Generation Audio in the MPEG-H Audio format. The content is being made available to broadcasters for testing purposes via the Eurovision FINE network. An on-site demonstration is available to journalists and EBU Members in Tel Aviv.

Next Generation Audio – NGA – enables the delivery of an immersive aural experience that can be fully personalised, to any device, whether in the home or on the go. For broadcasters, it’s a produce-once, deliver-anywhere scenario, avoiding the need to create dedicated mixes for all possible playback situations.

Those using NGA will be able to adjust the relative volumes of the performers, commentary and background ambience, or to switch between multiple different languages. Headphone users can be immersed in 3D binaural sound, while those with NGA-enabled soundbars or multi-speaker setups can experience audio that engulfs them on all sides.

Because all of the different audio elements are delivered individually, they can be controlled by the end user. This means that people who have hearing difficulties can boost the commentary while reducing the background ambience, for example, thus increasing the accessibility of media content.

The EBU is working to ensure that broadcasters can easily evolve their production and delivery workflows, in an open and codec-independent way, to serve the growing population of NGA-capable devices in the market. There are three standardised solutions for NGA: MPEG-H Audio, AC-4 and DTS-UHD.


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