MPEG Surround Becomes an International Standard

Proponents say MPEG Surround is now an international standard, ready for deployment.
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Proponents say MPEG Surround is now an international standard, ready for deployment.

Agere Systems, Coding Technologies, Fraunhofer and Philips said the Moving Pictures Expert Group has finalized the standardization process at the 79th MPEG meeting in Marrakech, Morocco. The document is MPEG-D standard document IS 23003-1.

One consequence of this, according to observers, is that MPEG Surround can now be tested and verified by Ibiquity as suitable for HD Radio use. It could also mean that products supporting the format may be on the market soon.

The companies say MPEG is an open standard compression technique for multi-channel audio signals. Operating on top of core audio codecs such as AAC, HE-AAC and MPEG-1 Layer II, the system provides backward compatibility to stereo and is scalable in terms of bit rate used for describing the surround sound image.

The parties claim that in combination with HE-AAC, MPEG Surround can carry a five- or seven-channel surround program at a total bit rate of 64 kbps or less. Specifically for portable applications, MPEG Surround offers a binaural mode, providing spatial rendering and reproduction of multichannel audio on stereo headphones.

MPEG Surround was demo’ed at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona this week.


WZLX Broadcasting MPEG Surround

CBS Radio classic rock station WZLX(FM) in Boston launched its new 5.1 surround sound service this week on the station's main HD channel. The service is based on MPEG surround technology provided by Fraunhofer-Institut für Integrierte Schaltungen IIS and Telos Systems.

Surround Sound Demystified

With consumers spending money on surround products, the first challenge facing surround sound for HD Radio will be deciding on a standard of encoding before HD Radio becomes known solely as an expensive form of traditional stereo radio.