Immersive Audio: Ready for Prime Time

Thanks to the media and entertainment industry’s shift to IP, immersive audio is truly making the scene. Immersive audio formats have been employed successfully in the cinema, theater, and performing arts center, and now the time has come for immersive audio in live broadcasts.

Immersive audio is an obvious fit for a theater or studio because … well, who wouldn’t want to experience three-dimensional audio when watching a show? Working with immersive audio, which extends the sonic field up, over, and around the audience, creatives and engineers can build a soundscape of incredible depth.

Using ambisonic signals that describe the entire sound field from one or several points in space, immersive audio supports creation of “audio objects.” While the audio object is essentially a mono track, associated metadata dictates the exact “position” of the sound within the sound scene. (Imagine the sound of a helicopter flying over your head from the back to front and from left to right. It’s that! And much more.)

This scene-based model allows the audio mix to be adapted to suit various types of sound systems. And, adding new perspectives and dimensions to audio, the format allows for storytelling on a whole new level.

Of course, the addition of new audio flows — along with data describing how audio should be reproduced within the sound field — brings added complexity to production workflows. But the migration to IP and file-based operations makes it easier for broadcasters to embrace immersive audio. They have the flexibility and agility they need to handle many more streams and much more metadata.

With this flexibility and agility in managing audio and metadata, broadcasters can enhance the listening (and viewing!) experience for live sports and entertainment in so many ways.

Immersive audio isn’t just about situating the audience within the sound scene; it also can give viewer-listeners the ability to choose their own spatial position and perspective. They can inhabit the scene in the way the resonates most, puts them at the center of the action, or simply feels most real.

Alternatively, viewer-listeners can select specific sound feels to enhance on-screen action, be it a football game or a Formula 1 race. Imagine picking a player to shadow during a game or having the ability to listen in as driver and crew communicate. The possibilities for greater engagement are endless. These types of immersive audio experiences will redefine audience expectations of live broadcasting.

To find out how advanced IP switches simplify immersive audio workflows, check out

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