Delivering Immersive 3D Audio with Ittiam’s Optimized MPEG-H Decoder
Reading time: 9 min
Imagine watching a scene from an action packed movie on your home theatre system wherein there are helicopters and planes flying overhead as scattered ammunition dumps on the ground explode. You hear and perceive the planes zoom past ‘from above’ as you also hear explosion of ammunition ‘all around you’. This would be a full in-scene immersive audio experience as close as possible to the actual scene and reality. Additionally, what if you could also immerse yourself into a similar aural experience on your other media consumption devices like smartphones, tablets, headphones and VR headsets – in other words, universal delivery? Yes, all this and much more is made possible with Immersive 3D Audio. Let us uncover it here.
Audio user experience has come a long way from the humble mono to classic stereo, followed by surround sound, and now the latest object based Immersive 3D Audio experience. All along this journey, respective audio formats have continuously pushed the technology envelope to its limits as users lapped up the new enticing audio experiences these formats offered. Besides the existence of dominant formats, MPEG-H 3D Audio as the newest entry is currently smallest by market share but holds a lot of promise!
In this article, we will take a closer look at the MPEG-H 3D Audio format – its key features, adoption in various broadcast / streaming standards and product deployments. Also this article will describe way in which Ittiam’s optimized MPEG-H 3D Audio decoder can help toward wider deployment of Immersive 3D Audio in diverse range of consumer devices.
MPEG-H 3D Audio (ISO/IEC 23008-3; MPEG-H Part 3) is an audio compression standard from Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) for delivering immersive 3D Audio. MPEG-H 3D Audio uses different audio elements to represent 3D audio space, namely
Encoding process: An MPEG-H 3D Audio encoded program may consist of flexible combination of audio elements such as audio channels, objects and HoA. A key departure of MPEG-H 3D Audio from earlier channel-based audio standards like MP3 and AAC is that the audio elements do not get mixed at encoding stage for a certain receiver configuration (E.g. stereo, 5.1 channel, etc). Instead, they are encoded separately and streamed to decoder along with metadata (position, gain information and more) related to audio elements. Importantly, this metadata can dynamically change over time.
Decoding process: MPEG-H 3D Audio decoder decodes audio channels, audio objects and HoA separately and mixes them together while applying the desired gain(s).
The MPEG-H decode process is illustrated in Figure 2.
MPEG-H has been adopted by Advanced Television Systems Committee in ATSC 3.0 standard as one of the next generation audio (NGA) systems to provide listeners with personalized and immersive audio experience.
From the above, MPEG-H 3D Audio, an open standard, is gradually and surely gaining momentum to be one of the leading audio format options for delivering next generation immersive audio.
Path forward and challenges: Immersive 3D Audio will soon be all pervasive with widespread adoptions across different applications segments (Figure 4). However, a critical hurdle to cross for immersive 3D audio formats to achieve wide deployment in consumer devices (including MPEG-H 3D Audio Low complexity profile) is the need to simultaneously decode multiple audio channels and mix them in real-time. Compared to non-3D Audio codecs, this needs significant processing horsepower (MCPS) from CPUs.
Therefore, there is a clear need for highly optimized MPEG-H 3D Audio decoder implementations to roll-out MPEG-H enabled products with rich audio performance while maintaining high power-efficiency and lower unit-cost.
Ittiam’s Audio codecs and Audio IPs are well recognized in the industry for delivering significantly better power performance (lower processor loading and memory footprint) with outstanding audio quality compared to alternatives
Ittiam MPEG-H 3D Audio decoder: Ittiam offers standard compliant, highly optimized MPEG-H 3D Audio software decoder which supports Low complexity profile up to L3. It is ideal for adoption in wide range of consumer devices and applications which are sensitive to processor utilization (MCPS), power consumption and battery drain.
Immersive 3D Audio will soon be all-pervasive and is expected to see widespread deployment in both broadcast and consumer audio applications. MPEG-H 3D Audio, which is a feature-packed open standard will grow to be a strong contender among the leading codec options for 3D Audio delivery. With the growing demand from end users for products with rich audio quality, high power efficiency, longer battery operation and lower unit price, incorporating highly optimized and proven MPEG-H 3D Audio codecs will be a key differentiator for new age Immersive 3D Audio enabled products and services. Ittiam’s proven, optimized MPEG-H Decoder can be a key enabler for the unfolding 3D Audio revolution.
Want to know more about Ittiam’s MPEG-H 3D Audio codec? Reach us at [email protected] and learn why many top brands are choosing Ittiam Audio codecs for their upcoming products. We will be glad to help with further details including product datasheets and evaluations.
Request MPEG-H 3D Audio decoder datasheet: MPEG-H Decoder datasheet (ARM® Cortex®-A)
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