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DTV Audio Group Meet Underscores Challenges Old And New

April 12th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Dan Daley

The annual DTV Audio Group meeting that takes place the day before the NAB Show opens remains a weathervane for where broadcast audio is pointing towards. This year, past concerns about training and loudness management have given way to issues such as remote integration of production and object-based audio (OBA). It’s all part of what Roger Charlesworth, Executive Director of the DTV Audio Group, described as, “An unprecedented rate of change,” referring to the convergence of IT and broadcast AV, telecoms and personal mobile devices. Looking at the broadcast business’s $25 billion global value compared to the IT industry’s worldwide revenues of over $2 trillion, he added, “We were a technology that was off to the side and now we’re in the middle of it.”

Underscoring that is the shift to IP transport of audio (AoIP), and the growing importance of associated metadata, which will support both a revolution within the broadcast ecosystem, as AoIP blurs the lines between plant and outside broadcast, and externally with the increased personalization of the broadcast experience for viewers, who will have more control over how a show looks and sounds, thanks to object-based audio.

However, as Michael Nunan, Senior Manger, Broadcast Operations, audio for Bell Media, which just completed work on a new 13.1 mixing room at its Toronto studios, pointed out, broadcast is still ramping up its work processes for 5.1 sound. “Talking about the future comes with the not-so-subtle suggestion that we’ve mastered the ‘now,’” he said. “But we haven’t.” Nunan cited issues such as the cost of moving forward into new audio configurations and developing workflows for them even as 5.1 continues to evolve. As an example he noted how most broadcast cameras today still offer only stereo outputs for audio. “We’re doing 21st-century productions with 1980s audio technology,” he said.

We’ll look deeper into the AoIP workflow issues and other raised at the DTV Audio Group event in the second installment.