Object-based audio scores for BBC R&D

BBC R&D has published details of a test broadcast using object-based audio technology to control commentary and effects that show a generally positive response from listeners.
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BBC R&D has published details of a test broadcast using object-based audio technology to control commentary and effects that show a generally positive response from listeners. The Radio 5 Live football experiment took place at Wembley Stadium in May and was streamed live over the internet in addition to conventional medium wave, DAB and online transmissions. Since coverage of the Championship League play-off final between Crystal Palace and Watford, R&D staff has been examining responses from the 2800 people who were able to listen to the test broadcast. Their reactions and other data are included in White Paper 272, Object-based Audio Applied to Football Broadcasts, released this month. Three live IP streams were produced at Wembley, comprising feeds from two spaced pairs of Sennheiser 416 microphones at either end of the Stadium (distributed by RF, receivers pictured) and a mono signal of the commentary box output. These were fed through an A-D converter into a PC running multi-channel mapper software and three 128kbps AAC codecs. From there the streams went to BBC R&D for transcoding into MP3 and Ogg Vorgis formats to allow distribution to computers running leading operating systems. A user interface based on the HTML5 web audio Javascript API enabled listeners to not only chose how much commentary or crowd effects they heard but also which end of the Stadium - either the Crystal Palace or Watford fans - they listened to. The White Paper reports that many respondents appreciated the increase in audio quality and clarity as well as being able to set the balance between voice and background noise. 57 percent said having control over the commentary/effects mix created a "much better" listening experience, although only 19 percent thought the same of the end selection feature. The experiment was part of BBC R&D's research into future audio formats. Technologist Anthony Churnside said "some challenges" with the commentary/crowd/ends still had to be solved but that the work was continuing. www.bbc.co.uk/rd/blog/2013/11/the-5-live-football-experiment-what-we-learned

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