The next generation of digital audio broadcasting (DAB) has arrived: at the Fraunhofer stand at IFA in Berlin, which opens today until 3 September, the German radiostation Rock Antenne will be the world’s first radio station to broadcast its programme in DAB Surround and MP3 Surround Internet radio.
DAB Surround will lend a whole new quality to digital radio thanks to developments by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen. Researchers there have devised the necessary techniques for processing and compressing the audio data.
The special feature of DAB Surround is that it doesn’t require a higher data rate than stereo DAB to achieve this noticeably better sound experience. This is because the new MPEG Surround standard, developed largely by Fraunhofer engineers, compresses the six channels of a surround music track to the extent that they require no more memory than a compressed stereo signal.
Another advantage is that radio broadcasters will be spared the expensive business of transmitting simultaneously in stereo and surround, as compression of the original 5.1 data automatically produces a stereo mix and sets parameters describing the surround sound. These parameters require only a few kilobits per second, and are aired by the broadcasters together with the stereo signal. While conventional receivers will ignore these extra data and play back the stereo signal as usual, future DAB Surround receivers will reproduce the original 5.1 sound – in perfect quality.
What is special about it is that the required bandwidth stays the same, thus avoiding higher broadcasting costs. Antenne Bayern and Rock Antenne are leading the way: Online, users can find links to the two broadcasters’ Surround Web radio stations, and can listen to them using the mp3 Surround Player freeware or the latest version of WinAmp.
(Source: UgensErhverv, Denmark)