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DAB 5.1 Surround Live Premiere at Medientage 2004


Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS introduces its novel Spatial Audio Coding technology, which enables 5.1 Surround Sound for Digital Audio Broadcasting DAB. The Bayerische Rundfunk (BR) and Bayern Digital Radio (BDR) broadcast the first 5.1 program over DAB live on "Bayern 4 Klassik" during the Medientage event in Munich. A DAB surround receiver prototype was developed and integrated in a passenger car by the Panasonic Automotive Systems Europe GmbH.

Spatial Audio Coding SAC is a new technology developed by Fraunhofer IIS in collaboration with Agere Systems. This generic surround extension can be associated with almost any perceptual audio codec while remaining fully backward compatible to stereo or even mono broadcasting. The achieved audio quality is very close to a fully discrete surround system despite the fact that the surround image is represented by only 16kbit/s of additional data. The DAB implementation is based on a combination of the MPEG Layer-2 codec with the surround information embedded as ancillary data into the bitstream. A conventional DAB receiver will simply ignore the surround information whereas DAB surround receivers reproduce the full multi-channel sound. On the part of the broadcasting station, the SAC based system only requires an SAC compatible audio encoder.

During the Medientage event in Munich, the first live broadcast of 5.1 surround sound over DAB is presented at the Bayern Digital Radio GmbH booth Y1 as well as the Panasonic Automotive Systems Europe booth Y2. The transmission of the Program Associated Data PAD is still possible while using Spatial Audio Coding technology.

During October 20 – 22, the Bayerische Rundfunk will broadcast 5.1-channel audio over DAB on "Bayern 4 Klassik" from 10.03 – 11.55 am ("Philharmonie") and 1.05 – 3.00 pm ("Cantabile"). The Bayerische Rundfunk will give editorial information about this project as part of its daily program.

Within 2005, Fraunhofer IIS plans to bring a real-time SAC encoder on the market. Presently, the SAC-technology is being standardized by the Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG), which will result in fair and reasonable licensing conditions for all manufacturers of broadcasting equipment. Panasonic Automotive Systems Europe has been a long-time supporter of the idea of multi-channel hi-fi in vehicles. The company considers the possibility of enhancing digital broadcasting systems to 5.1 by Spatial Audio Coding as an extremely promising new feature for DAB.

Visit us at Medientage October 20 - 22, 2004 in Munich, booth Y1 and Y2.

Dr. Bernhard Grill | alfa
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