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Fraunhofer Explores Dialogue Enhancement in Radio, TV

Says its technology lets users to adapt the volume of various audio elements within a program

A new “dialogue enhancement technology” has applications in radio as well as TV, according to its developer.

Fraunhofer IIS said the system allows TV and radio audiences to individually adjust the volume of dialogue, music or sound effects within a broadcast program. It calls it the first system of its kind to enable such audio control at low bit rates required for broadcasting.

“Mixing the sound for broadcasting of live events, such as football or tennis, is not always an easy task due to the varying listening preference of each end user,” it stated in the announcement this morning.

“Some sport fans would rather hear more stadium atmosphere to experience a better live feeling, while others prefer better intelligibility of the commentator’s voice.”

It said broadcasters can provide better speech intelligibility and enable radio or TV listeners to increase or decrease the volume of specific audio elements.

Fraunhofer said the system was tested by the BBC during Wimbledon coverage. “The technology enabled users of a specifically designed media player 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. The user reaction was positive, with users reporting the new feature as a useful extension for broadcasting.”

The German R&D organization stated that the technology “allows for highly 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 those 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 tech is compatible with existing transmission and playback equipment. “Devices that are not capable of decoding the parametric side information will play back the mixed audio signal.”

Fraunhofer will show the system at upcoming conventions in Berlin and Amsterdam.