THX strikes back with next-gen MPEG-H Spatial Audio Platform for content creators and playback devices

posted on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 by Steve May

home cinema  Streaming  THX  Dolby Atmos  DTS:X 

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THX has announced an all-emcompasing standard for Next Gen Audio at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The THX Spatial Audio Platform, described as an end-to-end positional audio solution, has been developed in partnership with Qualcomm and is delivered through MPEG-H.

Intended for mobile, PC and consumer electronics products and applications, it can support immersive object based formats, legacy multichannel formats and ambisonics.

The THX Spatial Audio Platform comprises a cocktail of components  for both content creation and optimised audio playback, and “can be seamlessly integrated into existing content creation and distribution workflows.” THX says it will licence elements independently, or provide it en bloc as a complete solution.

THX post processing was a key element in the development of home theatre in the early days of surround sound, but has found its influence waning with the move to 3D audio solutions such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

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So what exactly constitutes the THX Spatial Audio Platform?

At its core is MPEG-H encoding and decoding. MPEG-H is being positioned as a standard for NGA broadcast audio, and is a rival to Dolby AC-4.

Content creation plugins can be used to create immersive audio experiences with ambisonics and object-based formats; these can be “seamlessly integrated” into industry standard audio design tools, effectively eliminating the need for audio professionals to learn new tools and proprietary audio formats.

A rendering engine works through both headphones and speakers, across consumer devices large and small.There’s also a tuning and device optimization component. This measures and calibrates audio playback, depending on the device and environment. A personalization element can be used to construct audio profiles using Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTF), optimised for individual listeners.

At MWC, THX and Qualcomm are jointly demonstrating the technology to show how content creators, broadcasters and streaming media companies can use the technology to deliver immersive audio experiences on mobile devices.

"THX has a rich history of ensuring high fidelity audio and visual experiences for consumers and as technology continues to evolve, so do we," says Ruben Mookerjee, Senior VP of Product for THX. "We look forward to working closely with Qualcomm to bring next generation entertainment experiences to life with THX Spatial Audio using MPEG-H."

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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