A new dialogue enhancement technology that was the subject of a trial during the BBC’s recent coverage of the Wimbledon tennis championships will be previewed at IBC, writes David Davies.
The new innovation allows TV and radio audiences to individually adjust the volume of dialogue, music or sound effects within a single broadcast programme.
Fraunhofer’s new technology works by facilitating efficient transportation of individual audio objects, such as a commentator’s voice or stadium atmosphere, in a compatible mono or stereo downmix. The audio encoder receives these objects and produces a single mix, as well as a stream of parametric side information. The transmission of the mix, plus side information, is extremely bit-rate efficient, as each audio object only slightly increases the overall bit-rate. The mix can be produced automatically or by a sound engineer. On the receiving side, the user is then able to adjust the volume of each object individually, to improve the intelligibility of the sports commentator.
The technology offers complete compatibility with existing transmission and playback equipment. Devices that are not capable of decoding the parametric side information will play back the mixed audio signal.
During a recent BBC experiment during Wimbledon 2011, users of a specially-designed media player were able to listen to Radio 5 Live’s online stream and adjust the audio volume levels of the commentator or background ambience during live coverage of the match for a tailored audio experience. User reaction was said to be positive.