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Surround sound choices for Ultra HD

Satellite operator Eutelsat launched Europe's first Ultra High Definition (UHD) television channel on 8 January, broadcasting 4k, eight million pixel pictures. The company is considering 5.1, 10.2, 22.2 and object-based surround systems.

Satellite operator Eutelsat launched Europe’s first Ultra High Definition (UHD) television channel on 8 January, broadcasting 4k, eight million pixel pictures. No formal decision has been taken on audio formats but the company is considering 5.1, 10.2, 22.2 and object-based surround systems. The Eutelsat service is intended to help production companies, pay-TV channels, rights owners and set manufacturers get experience in the emerging 4k technology, which was a major feature of the recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. During the exhibition several manufacturers introduced 4k screens, while DTS announced a UHD audio system. Eutelsat is working with video compression specialist ATEME on the new channel, which runs at 50 frames a second in progressive mode, encoded in MPEG4 and transmitted at 40Mbit/s as four Quad HD streams. Services are being uplinked to the EUTELSAT 10A satellite from the operator’s Rambouillet teleport near Paris (pictured). As there is no ITU Recommendation for audio with UHD at the moment, Eutelsat is looking at a number of formats. These include 5.1, which is already used for both standard and high definition TV; 10.2, a proposal from Korea; 22.2, the system developed by NHK Labs for UHD; and SRS Labs’ object-based technology, now part of DTS’ offering. Like other companies entering the 4k and spatial sound arena, Eutelsat is weighing up a number of practical constraints, including operational consideration in production involving a greater number of channels, including different down mixes, and playback in the home. Commenting on the new channel Eutelsat’s commercial director, Jean-François Leprince-Ringuet, said, “This new step towards 4k continues Eutelsat’s longstanding commitment to achieving new broadcast milestones that over the last 20 years have included digital TV, HDTV and 3D. Early and close collaboration between all players in the broadcast chain will be a key success factor for this new revolution.” www.eutelsat.com

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