NAB: Fraunhofer IIS Shows 3D Soundbar

As producers and broadcasters begin to explore new developments in audio technology, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits will be demonstrating some of its solutions for next generation audio systems during the NAB Show.

This includes Fraunhofer’s Interactive 3D Audio System for TV, which allows viewers to personalize sound broadcasts to suit their personal preference. This system would allow users much greater control over individual aspects of an audio mix, allowing them to increase the sound for hard-to-understand dialogue or change the language.

In addition, Fraunhofer will show a new 3D soundbar concept.

The prototype is designed to overcome a common problem with the new “object oriented” systems that would go beyond the 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems used.

These systems would provide viewers with immersive audio that would surround them on all sides in three dimensions. A number of standards organizations, including the ATSC, are considering them as part of an upgraded broadcast system to handle 4K or UltraHD broadcasters.

But sceptics have doubted whether consumers would be willing to add the ceiling level speakers needed to make these systems work.

The new 3D soundbar concept being shown by Fraunhofer during the show attempts to overcome that problem with a soundbar or speakers that could cover all sides of the TV.

“Future UHDTVs might build similar technology into the TV itself, offering consumers an ‘un-box, plug-in, enjoy’ experience with immersive sound,” said Robert Bleidt, general manager at the audio and multimedia division, Fraunhofer USA Digital Media Technologies. “That will be much better than the soundbars of today, with no wires or external components at all. While high-end home theater enthusiasts will likely still prefer nine or eleven separate speakers for the ultimate 3D sound quality, this new soundbar concept will greatly enhance the audio experience for a broad consumer base without complex installation and set-up.”