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Audio News for July 31, 2015

Dolby AC-4 for Broadcast and Streaming Services – With the evolution to new immersive object-based audio surround formats, there is a need to support distribution of mono, stereo, conventional multichannel surround, multiple codecs, and the new object-based audio formats (of which there are three leading contenders). Compatibility with legacy formats including Dolby E most also be maintained. The new Dolby AC-4 audio delivery system uses high-efficiency audio coding at low data rates and system-level advancements over existing solutions. The new AC-4 audio standard can carry channel-based audio, audio objects, or a combination of the two. The decoder combines elements to output the most appropriate signal for the consumer or any device. Whatever the type of source, the decoder renders and optimizes the soundtracks to suit the playback device. The computational and power requirements vs. separate, independent processing stages is reduced. The AC-4 decoder contains headphone virtualization without requiring a separate Dolby Audio headphone virtualization unit. The encoder allows both descriptive audio and immersive surround all the way to the playback device. Splicing between video frames no longer leads to audio errors when the frames are not aligned as it did before. Dolby AC-4 is already being implemented by a variety of system-on-a-chip designers, professional partners, and consumer electronics manufacturers. Support has been announced from Vizio and Sony.

Level Magic Selective Loudness Processing for MPEG-H TV Audio – Jünger Audio and Fraunhofer IIS have demonstrated a prototype multichanell monitoring, authoring, and loudness processor for the new MPEG-H TV audio system. It will enable broadcasters using the MPEG-H system to maintain compliance with loudness regulations while avoiding processing artifacts of traditional loudness control approaches. Many stations, networks and cable or satellite operators have adopted loudness processing as a precautionary measure due to sanctions against loud advertisements under the federal CALM Act. They often re-processed the signal at each point in the signal chain, leading to a loss of dynamic range not only in commercials but also in the programming. If the network signal is leveled prior to distribution, the unit will only process local ads and programming inserted by the affiliate, thereby preventing double compression of the audio. The processing also works with the new object-oriented surround, is audibly transparent, and is highly adaptive to the structure of the incoming audio.

Music Industry Grooving on Vinyl – The unexpected revival of vinyl record sales has had a residual effect on the healthiness of local independent record stores and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry trade group has organized “New Music Friday,” which means instead of staggered-by-country new music releases, they will all come out on Friday in all countries from now on (except Japan). It is hoped the global release day will also narrow the gap on piracy, and most of the workers of the world get paid on Friday. 2015 is the eighth consective year that has seen vinyl sales grow. Younger music fans are leading the charge.  A contributing factor is that most vinyl records sold today come with a free digital MP3 download for those whose mobile devices are still their primary audio sources. Taylor Swift’s 1989 album is the best-selling vinyl record so far this year.

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