ITU Approves Object-Audio Broadcast Standards

Open standards seek to provide immersive audio experience
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GENEVA—ITU has announced that its members have unanimously approved Recommendation ITU-R BS.2088-0, open standards aimed to deliver advanced sound for broadcasting services. Based on existing RIFF/WAV file formats, the new standards are said to facilitate the production and exchange of advanced audio files by allowing a single file to carry a complete audio program containing audio samples as well as metadata for any combination of object-, channel- and scene-based audio.

The “Recommendation contains the specification of the BW64—Broadcast Wave 64 Bit—audio file format, including the new chunks, and which enable the file to carry large multichannel files and metadata, including the Audio Definition Model specified in Recommendation ITU-R BS.2076,” the document, entitled, “Long-form file format for the international exchange of audio programme materials with metadata,” states.

It goes on to say that the BW64 format is based on the WAVE audio file format specified in the Resource Interchange File Format, or RIFF. These WAVE files contain audio data.

“The basic building block of the RIFF file format, called a ‘chunk,’ contains a group of tightly related pieces of information. It consists of a chunk identifier, an integer value representing the length in bytes and the information carried. A RIFF file is made up of a collection of chunks.”

This BW64 format is said to use the core elements of the format as described in EBU Tech 3306. The BWF file format described in an earlier recommendation, Rec. BS.1352, had a number of limitations, incuding a maximum file size of less than 4 Gb, no support for advanced multichannel audio and inadequate support for technical metadata. The BW64 format described in BS.2088-0 aims to overcome those limitations while preserving as much compatibility as possible with BS.1352.

The aim of all of this is immersive audio and being able to pair it with UHDTV for a more life-like television experience. With the technical capabilities of these standards, viewers will be able to adjust the level of immersive audio. This is made possible by object-based coding, which allows viewers to personalize the viewing and listening experience at the point of consumption, including setting language and dialogue levels and selecting different aspects or sections of programming.

ITU is the United Nations agency for information and communications technology.

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